The Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa Challenges Private Enterprise to Bring Down the Cost of Funerals.

Submitted by Beverlee McIntosh  

Have you ever been in a position to plan a funeral for a loved one? When we are emotionally vulnerable, pressed for time and in unfamiliar territory, looking for services in the for-profit funeral industry is a recipe for client exploitation. Staff, paid on commission, are rewarded by up-selling and lack of transparency leads families to purchase services not required by law, or services which the family could have provided without cost. For 35 years our Gatineau neighbours have availed themselves of the ‘Co-operative Model’ to deliver funerals. Consequently, private enterprise has moved out of that region and funeral costs are less than 50%  the cost for the same services in Ottawa. Funeral co-operatives are born out of the desire of the community. They do not exist to make money, but to meet the needs of bereaved families, whatever their funeral budget may be.

Early Co-operatives started in farming communities in Saskatchewan and through the Antigonish Movement in Maritime villages.  The ‘Mouvement Desjardins’ in Eastern Ontario stopped the exploitative money-lending practices of banks which were crushing Farmers. In September the Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa opened its doors, with much community support and with financing through dynamic co-operatives across Canada. The model is based on not-for profit pricing and compassionate individualized service from staff who are not paid on commission, but who are transparent about costs and innovative in involving families in organizing the most appropriate memorial service for the deceased. The co-operative is community owned and administered by a volunteer board of directors.

The Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa hopes that Ottawa social workers will become members of this innovative co-operative and will encourage clients/families who are in the process of funeral planning to consider the FCO when they are contacting funeral service providers. All cultural communities are accommodated. Planning from  simple cremation to elaborate memorial services is based on compassion and not on commission.


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