Heating oil help still two weeks away

Teresa Wright
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P.E.I.'s deficit is on the rise

Low-income Islanders who cannot afford to fill their oil tanks in the wake of frigid sub-zero temperatures will have to wait another two weeks for help from the Salvation Army.

The home heating assistance program, which offers a one-time furnace oil fillup for those in urgent need situations, will again be offered this year.

But despite the current freezing winter temperatures and a three-cent hike in oil prices on Jan. 1, the program will not begin until Jan. 14 or 15.

Capt. Jamie Locke of the Salvation Army in Charlottetown said Thursday a deal was only finalized between provincial officials and the Salvation Army to re-offer the program on Wednesday.

The province will be providing $121,200 for the program this year. That’s down close to $4,000 from last year’s provincial contribution of $125,000.

Locke says while the Salvation Army is pleased the program will continue this year, the dollar amount being offered will not last long.

“It doesn’t take long for that to go. A week or two and it’s gone,” Locke said.

The cold winter months are not the only time of year Islanders call the Sally Ann, hoping for emergency help with furnace oil. Locke said calls have been coming in for this program since October.

“It would be helpful to have more funding,” he said.

Opposition Leader Olive Crane says she believes the provincial government should look at a more long-term solution for the heating oil assistance program.

She praised the work of the Salvation Army in administering it over the last five years, but said she believes it should be run by a government agency that could provide greater resources.

“It’s really up to government to help people meet their basic needs, and heat is a basic need,” Crane said.

She acknowledged the program was set up as an emergency service to help people in urgent situations, but said many Islanders are finding themselves in longer-term states of need.

“Last year, the minister (Valerie Docherty) made the comment that she didn’t want people to become dependent on emergency oil, but this is a reality for people who can’t meet their basic needs any longer,” Crane said.

“A program from the Salvation Army that’s not going to be available for another two weeks? What about all these individual people who need help heating their homes? Yesterday was minus 21 degrees outside.”

No one was available for an interview from the Department of Community Services and Seniors, which administers the funds for the home heating assistance program.

In an emailed statement, Bob Creed, director of social programs for the department, said he hopes others in the community partners will come forward and contribute to this program. In past years, the P.E.I. Petroleum Marketers Association and several oil companies have doanted fuel to this program.

Since 2007, the province has donated more than $800,000 to this Salvation Army-administered program.

It is as an emergency resource designed to assist Islanders in a time of crisis who cannot afford home heating oil during the winter months.

Through the program, P.E.I. residents who show an urgent need may receive up to 400 litres of heating oil delivered to their home.

In 2010, more than 300 Island families received emergency heating assistance through this program.

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Organizations: Salvation Army, Islanders, Community Services

Geographic location: Charlottetown, P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • PH
    January 04, 2013 - 16:01

    DM ... I hope you realize that some unfortunate people are going to be as cold this winter as you seem to be inside. As for owning a home, I have a friend who owns her own home (such as it is), with an income less than 7K per year. Until recently, her husband had an income as well, but it passed away when he did. Now, I suppose, according to you, this is her fault?

  • PH
    January 04, 2013 - 15:54

    DM ... I hope you realize that some unfortunate people are going to be as cold this winter as you seem to be inside. As for owning a home, I have a friend who owns her own home (such as it is), with an income less than 7K per year. Until recently, her husband had an income as well, but it passed away when he did. Now, I suppose, according to you, this is her fault?

  • SG
    January 04, 2013 - 13:43

    PRIORITIES: I Agree.

  • lola
    January 04, 2013 - 11:33

    If my elected official calls me I am going to offer him my vehicle use for the next 3 months. We would be able to heat a few homes if he parked his Provincially bought gas guzzler and drove a civic. NO CHARGE except gas..but I watch the mileage k

    • dm
      January 04, 2013 - 12:42

      Now there is a good idea, i made a comment about my mla allan MacIsaac driving his big brand new gas chugging truck around and they deemed it inappropriate to post.

  • SG
    January 04, 2013 - 09:51

    (The province will be providing $121,200 for the program this year. That’s down close to $4,000 from last year’s provincial contribution of $125,000.) Unbelievable! Islanders' who are freezing in Sub Zero Temps in Winter will just have to Freeze and wait untill our Government deems it's time to provide them with Financial Assistance for Heat!!! Are we living in Canada? Our Government can't provide $121,000 which is a drop in the bucket to ensure Islanders aren't freezing to death! However yesterday Islanders read a Report stating that a Business is receiving close to $3 Million Dollars from our Government!! I thought Governments were Elected to SERVE THE PEOPLE not Business! I also wasn't aware that our Governent decided when the Season of WInter Begins! Islanders please Wake Up !

  • Jacksie
    January 04, 2013 - 09:44

    Low income Islanders feeling cold and hungry in their homes can be assured that government is helping build a stinkly brewery in Parkdale. And that Tim Banks just got another $800 k for no stated reason for whatever he is doing in Cornwall. And that new private residence downtown is looking great. Poor Islanders can be certain that they are playing out a drama of contrasts that most civilized and eductaed people turned against back in the days of Charles Dickens. Astonishing!!! But here on PEI it is very real. Wow.

  • dont think its fair
    January 04, 2013 - 08:18

    Its nice to see that they offer this but really think It should be looked at in other ways its not fair how they pick and choose u gets it and who don't..they call it low income heating assitence then tell me why a low income family with three small children who pay the same price per litre for oil gets turned down I pay high rent as well

  • B rendal
    January 04, 2013 - 08:15

    Save people the embarrassment of begging for oil. The government sees your tax return and knows who needs help. Please Robert and Wes go this route and give according to earnings

    • nitpicker
      January 05, 2013 - 18:46

      Begging? Its not "begging", its applying. I see nothing wrong with being expected to justify why you need taxpayers to provide you with oil. A tax return only tells a part of the story.

  • Supplemental heat
    January 04, 2013 - 07:31

    Unless someone makes a lot of money, it's not possible to rely exclusively on oil as a primary source of heat. If you are low income, you need to pick up either infared heaters or oil filled space heaters as supplemental heat in the winter. Used ones can be picked up online for $30. I've had to do this for several winters as I have no way to afford heating the place exclusively with oil.... it's not ideal, but beats running out of oil mid february.

  • hmatt
    January 04, 2013 - 07:29

    Was it a surprise to the government and the Salvation Army that winter came in January ?? People are feezing in these homes, why wasn't this look after early last fall?

  • Sylvia
    January 04, 2013 - 07:09

    I'm not living in poverty now but at one time I did. It's a horrible way to have to live. We have a government in P.E.I. that really doesn't care about its' poorest citizens. You don't have to be poor to be able to feel the way this government is sucking the life out of Islanders, literally bleeding us dry. Mr. Ghiz was all smiles at the levee in the photo taken with his family and I can't understand why anyone would want to shake his hand. I'm sure he doesn't have to worry about how he's going to heat his home this winter.

  • fedup
    January 04, 2013 - 06:35

    Feasible Fuels thank you kindly for taking some of the burden off those unable to fork over 500 minimum. Easier to budget, simple and the best service.

  • johnny cash
    January 04, 2013 - 05:40

    Guess we need a beer company more then helping the underprivileged.

    • don
      January 04, 2013 - 11:20

      JOHNNY CASH. better PROFIT in booze then helping islanders. they have proved that so many times.

  • dm
    January 04, 2013 - 01:09

    Not this again, If you cant afford to heat your house sell it move into an apartment with heat included maybe take in a border in your house, that's the thing is most of this money goes to home owners not renters, none of this money should be giving to home owners they are obviously well enough off if they own a home, how about 125 000 for the homeLESS?

    • To DM
      January 04, 2013 - 10:50

      Oh to be in YOUR shoes! It must be wonderful to think like you do, but it is not reality. Many people rent unheated homes, or maybe are elderly people who have tiny homes and only an old age pension to buy medications, food, electricity, transportation, etc. And there you are suggesting they take in a border or sell the house and move into an apartment. You are way out of touch with reality. Rent is not cheap and rises when heating prices go up. A little old couple living in a side street in Charlottetown or out in the country on a side road just might not have that extra bedroom for a boarder, and certainly wouldn't be able to afford $900 a month for rent, which, in case you weren't aware, is common in Charlottetown. May you never be in a position those who have to rely on charity are. The Salvation Army takes nothing for itself, and helps those in the worst straits without looking for votes or thanks. It is an efficient way to help those most in need. The homeless? They have shelters and pay nothing. Just saying.

    • How is the weather up there?
      January 04, 2013 - 12:45

      DM....DM....DM....will you buy my house....I cant afford to heat it, and I want to move off the Island. You seem to have the answers...so I need a buyer. HELP

  • intobed
    January 04, 2013 - 00:36

    Well, people better get used to it. These people who can barely heat their homes are going to be hit hard financially when the HST is forced upon us this April. So many are on the edge that we will see a mass exodus of the working class to Alberta. Educate yourself. Look at who lobbied hard to impose the HST upon us, and who has more money in their pockets as a result. What kind of Island vision do they have?

  • ahem
    January 03, 2013 - 22:17

    PATHETIC,, really there are people who need it.. NOW!!!!! sometimes blankets can't help enough. Lord lifting we are better than this why can't one of the greatest countries in the world.. no THE greatest country in the world avoid our own people from freezing!!! My heat sucks but I still have some!!! And also .........(.............) ..........

    • COLD CHILDREN
      January 04, 2013 - 00:05

      Each December around Christmas time I cannot help feeling a keen pain that went through my heart --and stays there yet- at hearing a child, a little girl, telling "Santa" what she wanted for Christmas. "Ho, ho, ho! And what do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas"? Without a second of hesitation: "A blanket" was her reply. "Only a blanket, that's all? Don't you have a blanket?" The child sounded so pitiful when she explained: "We have one, but I sleep with my mother, and she hogs it all." Needless to say my heart broke and ever since that year this child is uppermost in my mind, and the nameless ones in the same situation, or worse. I hope this young lady now has her blankets! Heating is so important to young children especially. Some are only weeks or months old! I agree with the above comment, (all except the allusion to the story of Moses in the Bible.)

    • priorities
      January 04, 2013 - 06:53

      People can't afford oil for heat in one of the coldest climates on Earth. Yet, my government approves loans of millions of dollars to two of the wealthiest citizens of this province to make them even wealthier, and cannot keep a cop (at 30 k a year) in a high school to prevent drug trafficking and abuse.