Salvation Army fuel program out of funds
The Salvation Army’s emergency heating assistance program is done for another year after it ran out of money last week, says a spokesman for the organization in Charlottetown.
Salvation Army Lt. Ian Scott said the program ran out of money Thursday, which was almost a month earlier than in 2010 because there was less money available this year.
“The amount of dollars per family is not much different than last year, but just less dollars to go around,” he said.
The Salvation Army Home Heating Assistance Program started in 2008 and is meant to provide emergency assistance to help low-income Islanders get through the cold winter months.
Last year the provincial government gave the program $108,000 through the Community Services, Seniors and Labour Department, but this year the contribution dropped to $78,000.
The P.E.I. Petroleum Marketers Association also chipped in with 6,800 litres of heating oil, which was 1,200 litres more than what its affiliate oil companies gave for 2010.
Anyone who showed an urgent need was able to get up to 300 litres of heating oil delivered to their home on an emergency basis.
Scott said that worked out to be more than 200 families this year over the two weeks the program was open, compared to four or five weeks last year.
“That was two weeks worth of work,” he said.
Although P.E.I. hasn’t seen extreme cold prior to this week, Scott said he thought a lot of families looked ahead to this time of year for using the oil program and even though it wasn’t bitterly cold, it was still cold enough for them to need help.
“Now that we’re getting the first blast of winter I’m sure it’s in the front of the mind of everyone,” he said.
Scott said it’s too early to say what will happen with the program because it was always renewed on a yearly basis and he doesn’t expect to have more information about funding until later in the year.
“I don’t really know about the future of it at this point,” he said.
The program works on a first-come-first-served basis for people who qualify so anyone who didn’t receive assistance already missed their chance, Scott said, but there is still demand.
“People phone in, call in and walk in every day,” he said.
Community Services, Seniors and Labour social programming director Bob Creed also said it’s too early to say if the province will provide any funding for the program next year.
“It’s difficult for me to predict what will be budgeted for the next fiscal year,” he said.
But while the government hasn’t made a decision on the program for 2012, Creed said the province recognizes that some people face challenges throughout the winter months.
“We are constantly reviewing our programs with the hope of doing our part.”