Affordability and Pricing

With a legacy of providing compassionate care and choice in end-of-life planning to individuals and families across the GTA for close to 200 years, the Mount Pleasant Group (MPG) is committed to growing our affordable options in cremation, cemetery, and funeral services for our clients. Following our most recent price reductions in casket rentals and direct cremations, our team remains mindful of inflation, the rising costs of living in the GTA, and other economic pressures facing families in our city. We remain committed to delivering services at various price points, and with the most affordable options possible, while still maintaining the quality of care and service that people need and deserve at the most difficult time of their lives.

Question:  I have heard that the Mount Pleasant Cemetery is extremely expensive. How can ordinary people afford graves for casket burial these days?  

Answer:  MPG offers a range of price points to meet the financial resources, or limitations, of our diverse clientele across our ten (10) cemeteries in the GTA.

The prices for interment rights (i.e. the right to be buried in a particular location) are significantly lower at our newer cemeteries in the “905” region than at our older, more established properties in Toronto itself. Prices also range according to the size of the plot, the form of memorialization chosen, and the suite of services purchased. For instance, as of March 2024, the average price paid for an Adult Single Grave (ASG) – a grave configured to accommodate a flat marker – was around $1,700 at our Thornton Cemetery in Oshawa.  For the same type and dimension of grave at our Mount Pleasant Cemetery in midtown Toronto, clients paid around $31,000.  The average price paid across all our sites was around $2,800.

Question: How expensive are funerals these days?

Answer:  It all depends on the choices clients make.

The funeral professionals in our affiliated company, Canadian Memorial Services, work closely with families and friends of those who have died to customize funerals to their preferences and budgets. As of  March 2024, the average cost of a funeral arrangement was $7,000. Some cost significantly less than this amount, and some cost significantly more.

Question: What is the Mount Pleasant Group doing to make its services more affordable?

Answer:  We are reviewing our prices to make more services affordable to more people.

We recognize that the costs associated with cemetery interment, cremations and funeral services can be daunting for many people. We are committed to identifying death care-related options that are affordable for a broad range of individuals and families.

For example, in 2023, we reduced the price of our rental caskets by as much as 60%. These are high-quality wooden casket shells into which a simpler box containing the deceased is inserted for a visitation or funeral service and removed before cremation. We have seen demand for rental caskets increase by 124% over the past year. Similarly, in March 2024 we announced a 30% reduction in the price of “direct cremation.” That service involves the simple collection and cremation of a deceased individual and the return of their cremated remains to their next of kin.

Question: Where does all the money go that MPG makes from selling interment rights and other products and services? Are its shareholders getting rich?

Answer: No.

MPG is a category of a not-for-profit organization known as a non-share capital corporation. That means that we have no “owners,” per se, and no shareholders either. Rather, the corporation is legally required to invest any excess of revenue over expenses back into the company itself. Over and above the legislated amounts that it puts regularly into its long-term “Care & Maintenance Fund,” we set aside additional funds to be used to ensure that the company will never turn to government or the citizens in the communities where we operate to supplement our funds. We purchase new cemetery lands; build cemetery infrastructure; construct and upgrade our buildings and properties to make them more accessible and sustainable; purchase vehicles and equipment; maintain and beautify the lands on which we operate; ensure the safety and security of our premises; and hire and pay our staff, all without any taxpayer assistance.

Question: What about people who live in poverty and are unable to pay for even the lowest-priced options at MPG sites?

Answer: In Ontario, there is a system in place to support the families of the deceased in these situations.

Cemetery and funeral operators in Ontario are compensated by municipalities at below-market rates to provide cemetery and funeral services to recipients of social assistance programs such as Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). The families of the deceased are never billed. We are pleased to participate in this program. Over the last five years alone, on an annual basis, we have performed an average of 900 “assisted burials.” This number represents roughly 14% of our casket burials.

Question: What is the “Care & Maintenance” fund that I see listed on our price lists? Is that just a cash grab?

Answer: Absolutely not.

Under the laws of Ontario, all cemetery operators are required to carefully invest 40% of the price paid for a grave in a professionally managed, investment income-generating “Care & Maintenance Fund”; for crypts, the required amount is 20% of the price, and for a cremation niche, it is 15% of the price. Since there are no other obligatory fees charged to clients after an interment has taken place, this legal requirement helps to ensure that cemeteries are able to take proper care of graves, crypts, and niches “in perpetuity” – literally forever. Notably, we established our “Care & Maintenance Fund" several decades before it became the law in Ontario.

Question: Is MPG satisfied that it is doing everything it can to help make cemetery, cremation, and funeral services more affordable to a wider range of individuals and their families? Why or why not?

Answer: We know there is more work to be done.

We continue to review our prices as well as other aspects of our operations to identify additional ways of making our death care-related services and products affordable to a greater range of people. This is not to increase profits – as noted above, MPG is a not-for-profit corporation that puts any excess of revenue over expenses back into the company – but simply to serve more families and communities across the GTA. This mandate is no less relevant today than when the company was first established back in 1826.