June 20th, 2024

FSAC campaigns for restoration of CPP death benefit

By Dale Woodard - Lethbridge Herald on January 27, 2022.

The Funeral Service Association of Canada, with support from the Alberta Funeral Service Association and other provincial partners, is looking for an increase in the Canada Pension Plan Death Benefits after significant cuts were made over two decades ago.
In 1998, the maximum CPP death benefit was reduced from $3,580 to $2,500, where it has been fixed without any inflationary increase, a rate the FSAC said does not come close to meeting the basic needs for end-of-life arrangements, especially after being taxed.
For the past year, the FSAC has launched a three-pronged campaign to restore the 1997 CPP death benefit rate to $3,580, apply an annual index to the CPP death benefit to keep pace with inflation and provide a mechanism for Canadians to assign the CPP death benefit to licensed funeral service providers to offset funeral expenses and reduce unnecessary administration costs.
“The initiative is being led by the Funeral Service Association of Canada, our national body, and it is supported by our provincial bodies,” said Chris Martin-Jong, general manager of Martin Brothers Funeral Chapel and president of the Alberta Funeral Service Association. “It’s to bring awareness to the public that this did take place and it hasn’t been fixed in a very long time and that we are bringing it to the forefront on a national level.”
On its webpage, the FSAC said the reduced benefit predominately impacts low-income families and seniors.
“There are a lot of people who have passed away who this benefit is quite important to, people who fall between the cracks of full benefits at a provincial level, which is a socio-economical situation, and people who have money,” said Martin-Jong. “There is always that middle group who this really plays an important role. So having it back to what it was in 1998 would be a good step and then continuing to follow with inflation.”
Martin-Jong said most people are shocked and surprised the decrease took place two decades ago with no second look at it and no increase at all. 
“Especially now, where inflation is at an all-time high, it helps to really bring into focus what has been done with this, or not done.”
Martin-Jong said funeral services in Canada can range anywhere from $6,500 to $20,000. 
“It’s a significant amount and back when it was cut in 1998, a $5,000 funeral would take care of the most average funeral costs. It took care of over 50 per cent.”
The FSAC started their campaign in the past year to raise awareness.
“It’s something that has been talked about for a long time, but now action points are being put in place and people are mobilizing to have change made,” said Martin-Jong, adding he’s hopeful the campaign will bring change.
“‘I’m confident this story is getting out there now and that it’s shocking enough when people hear the amount of time that has lagged between when the cut was made and now that it still hasn’t been looked at as funeral costs have continued to rise like everything else we’re dealing with. I’m hopeful we’ll go forward and changes will be made in the upcoming year.”
For more information on the initiative, visit http://www.fsac.ca/cpp-death-benefit.

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