First things first

Matters for immediate consideration

As this time of loss when you feel so disorganized and overwhelmed, you may be called upon to make sudden arrangements and decisions. Some are required by law, while other decisions depend on you and your personal circumstances.

Staff are available to assist you with any immediate calls you want to make to notify family, close friends, or neighbours. At your request, they can also notify your clergy, and assist you to call the funeral home.

Confirmation of death

A doctor will confirm that your loved one has died, and will complete a Medical Certificate of Death that states the patient's name, age, date of death, and cause of death. This form will be forwarded to the funeral home or transfer service, which will then issue a Proof of Death Certificate.

A Death Certificate may be needed as proof of death for some benefit claims.

You may request a copy of the Death Certificate from the Registrar General's Office, available about three months after the death. To obtain a copy of the Official Death Certificate, contact:

The Office of the Registrar General
189 Red River Road
P.O. Box 4600
Thunder Bay, ON P7B 6L8
416-325-8305 / Toll Free: 1-800-461-2156 Fax: 807-343-7459

If you require faster service than 6-8 weeks, please apply online at 


You may be asked to consent to an autopsy when the exact cause of death is not clear, or to further medical research. In these cases, it is voluntary. When an autopsy is required for legal purposes such as a sudden unexplained death, the Coroner has the legal authority to order one. An autopsy will not interfere with your plans for an open casket funeral.

The gift of organ and tissue donation

At the end of a loved one's life, you and your family face many decisions. One of these decisions may be the opportunity to help others through the gift of organ and tissue donation. Thousands of Ontarians require a transplant each year, and many may wait several years to receive their transplant.

Donation is a rare opportunity not available to everyone at end-of-life. In the case that organ and/or tissue donation is an available option, a member of the Sunnybrook health care team will have you speak with a specially trained coordinator from Trillium Gift of Life Network.

Through organ and tissue donation, you can honour your loved one's choice to donate or make the decision to help others on behalf of your loved one.

If you think this is something your loved one would want or you would like additional information, please speak with a member of the health care team. Your consent could help those who are currently waiting for lifesaving and life-transforming transplant. 

Notification: family, friends and others

You may want to notify members of the family, close friends or a neighbour before you leave the hospital. Staff involved in the care of your loved one may assist you with any immediate calls. If you wish, they will notify your clergy or call a chaplain/ spiritual care provider or social worker to assist you. We are available to offer support and comfort, and assist you with some of the difficult decisions you will have to make during the next few hours.

Funeral arrangements

Calling the funeral home should be one of the first things you do. You may ask a chaplain or social worker to assist you if you do not already have a funeral home in mind. You may want to choose a funeral home near your own home, or one which has been recommended by others. The funeral directors should be familiar with the rites and customs of all religions.

The following website may be helpful:
(To find contact information for funeral homes go to the Registrant Search and click on Business Directory) 

Families without any financial resources

Social service departments across Ontario provide assistance and payment for burial in cases where the family of the deceased lacks financial resources. The funeral services provided will be limited, yet dignified, with burial in common ground.

Arrangements for financial assistance should be made before contacting the funeral home. This type of funeral is provided below cost by Funeral Directors as a service to the community. In the event that the funeral home is contacted before applying for financial assistance, it is important that you do not sign a contract with the funeral home or exchange any money. Instead, let the Funeral Director know that you are planning to request financial assistance from Social Services. If money has been given to the Funeral Director, Social Assistance cannot become involved. To have eligibility assessed, refer to the office in your area:

Metropolitan Toronto Department of Social Services
Client Special Services Unit - Funeral Services: 416-392-1666
Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Have the following documents available:

  • Social Insurance Number
  • Updated bank books (even if account is empty), and/or proof of income such as cheque stubs
  • Ontario Health Insurance Number
  • Verification of date of birth - such as a Passport, Birth Certificate, Driver's Licence
  • Proof of citizenship - such as a Passport, Landed Immigrant Status papers (if appropriate)
  • Proof of Death Certificate- this can be obtained from the funeral home.
  • Name, address, and telephone number of chosen funeral home.

For spouse of the deceased

If you or your spouse were receiving Old Age Security, contact Service Canada, Income Security Program to discuss the possibility of new, increased benefits.

If you are between the ages of 60 and 65, and your spouse did not receive Old Age Security, in some cases you may be eligible for Old Age Security Benefits (specifically referred to as the "Allowance for the Survivor").

Service Canada: 1-800-277-9914

General Information Line in Toronto: 416-392-2956



Location and contact

Palliative care unit admissions (K1E/K1C)

For Palliative Care Unit Referrals.
Please refer to Making A Referral
Phone: 416-480-6182
Fax: 416-480-6118

Palliative care consult team

For inpatient consultations and ambulatory care clinic visits.
Please refer to Palliative Care Consult Team
Phone: 416-480-6100 ext. 67255
Fax: 416-480-5146
Monday - Friday: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

If you have any questions regarding palliative care referrals and resources, please do not hesitate to contact us.

For urgent matters outside of business hours, please call locating at 416-480-4244 and ask the operator to page the "on-call palliative care physician/consultant".

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