Industry watchdog urges Benjamin’s funeral home ‘do the right thing for grieving families’—or risk losing their license

Jordan Solway, left, and Suzanne Heft are two of nearly a dozen former customers of Benjamin's funeral home who are now speaking out publicly over what they perceive as hidden fees and shady business practices. (Images courtesy of Ellin Bessner)

A few weeks ago, we brought you the story of Raziel and Jeanne Zisman, a Toronto family who lost their only child, Liam, in January. Before his funeral, the Zismans agreed to use the Benjamin Foundation, a charity arm of the Benjamin Group that collects memorial donations to later disperse among charities selected by the family. The Zismans discovered that the Foundation took 10 per cent of the donations for administrative fees. The family ended up taking the funeral home to provincial court, and they lodged a complaint with the Bereavement Authority of Ontario.

Since that episode aired, numerous other Benjamin’s clients have come forth with similar stories. The CJN Daily also learned of a months-old case, settled in April 2022, in which Benjamin’s was forced to repay 258 clients a total of more than $75,000 for “inappropriate” extra COVID fees and transfer costs during the pandemic.

Now, the BAO is giving Benjamin’s an ultimatum.

The provincial licensing body wants Benjamin’s to clean up its act, or risk sanctions—which could include suspension or even revoking the company’s license. David Brazeau, the BAO’s communications manager, joins to discuss several years’ worth of complaints lodged against Benjamin’s. Plus, you’ll hear from three Toronto families with their own stories—as well as what Michael Benjamin himself has to say.

What we talked about:

Credits

The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Production assistance by Gabrielle Nadler and YuZhu Mou. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.