Funeral homes in Ontario struggle with worker shortage and increased demand for services

Melwyn “Dharma” Stanislaus, community advisor and soon-to-be director of Ajax Crematorium and Visitation Centre. Photo credit: Renee Ellis

Funeral directors in Ontario are struggling to meet the increased demand for their services due to a shortage of workers entering the industry, causing many to delay their retirement.

According to Statista, there were more than 100,000 deaths in Ontario in 2022. With the aging population, this number is expected to rise in the coming years, putting additional pressure on the funeral industry.

Jazmyn Reid, the funeral director assistant at Ajax Crematorium and Visitation Centre (ACVC), says its business, like many others, struggles to find assistance to help aid directors.

“We have two locations, one in Ajax and one in Brampton,” Reid says. “And lots of the time, we have to call people from our other location last minute to help.”

ACVC is not the only funeral home facing this problem. There are many other funeral homes across Ontario dealing with this issue.

Melwyn “Dharma” Stanislaus, community advisor and soon-to-be director of the centre, says being a director is “far from an easy task”, and dealing with those experiencing loss and grief can be “very demanding, challenging, and difficult to work with.”

Stanislaus, who is currently working on going from an advisor to a director, says becoming a director can also be what causes people to stray away.

“The workload is very heavy and very challenging,” he says. “A lot of the time, I find myself staying up very late to stop myself from falling behind.”

Employees in Ontario’s bereavement sector — who work in funeral homes, cemeteries, and crematoriums and provide transfer services — are regulated by the Bereavement Authority of Ontario (BAO) under the Funeral Burial and Cremation Services Act 2002.

Two colleges in Ontario offer the one-year course required for someone to get their Class 1 funeral director license: Humber College in Toronto offers the course. At the same time, French students can attend College Boreal in Sudbury. A one-year internship then follows the course.

“The funeral industry is an industry that will always be in demand,” Dharma says. “If we can’t find a way to fix this issue now, I’m worried about what the future holds.”