The NDP Opposition is calling on the Saskatchewan Party government to reverse a budget decision to stop covering funeral costs for families on social assistance.

Previously, the government paid up to $3,800 to cover the cost of a funeral for those who cannot afford it. That included a simple casket, a funeral service and burial.

However, the government believes it can save $1,700 by going straight from the funeral home to the graveyard.

“My priority in this budget is to make sure that we keep the lights on and food on the table and a roof over peoples’ heads” said Social Services Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor. “These are not easy decisions.”

But NDP social services critic Nicole Rancourt says the move to cut provincial coverage for funeral costs is “short-sighted and cold-hearted.”

Those who work with bereaved families are also struggling to understand the government's rationale. “It’s important, no matter who a person, is that people can gather and say ‘this life mattered,’” said Very Rev. Mike Sinclair of St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Regina.

“It’s important for people to be able to come together and to celebrate a life and to grieve a death and to find support and peace in each other.”