Pincher Creek man fights for assistance after losing foot
A backlog of calls to a government assistance hotline may have led to a Pincher Creek, Alta., man not receiving any help for the holidays.
Dave Samford lost his foot in an accident in the oil patch a year ago and has been fighting with the Workers' Compensation Board and Alberta Human Services for financial help.
Human Services turned him away last week when he asked for help with food and basic needs over the holidays. He was directed to call an emergency hotline instead.
He says he tried the number multiple times without any success.
Samford enlisted the help of Liberal MLA David Swann, who held a news conference Monday.
"He asked for basic supports for food and a bit of income and they turned him down, brushed him off, and asked him to call a 1-800 emergency line over the weekend," Swann said. "Nothing available; food banks closed. So the very service we have in place failed him."
Samford spoke at the news conference as well.
"Been hell for months but then, you know, final straw was going for help through public works and basically getting swept out the door," he said. "It hurt to even go down there and for things to go the way they did."
"I can't even have my daughter because I have no food in my fridge or in my cupboards," he added.
Swann says the case is another example of how the government is failing to help Albertans.
The Human Services offices were closed over the holidays, so the emergency hotline was the only way for those in need to access government assistance.
The department has a number of programs to help unemployed or low-income individuals and families find employment or financial support.
A government official couldn't comment directly about the case but told CBC News that the average wait time on the hotline was around half an hour, which received more than 500 calls over the last six days.
"Certainly it would be nice to be able to respond immediately, but you never know what kind of traffic you will receive during a specific time frame," said spokesperson Tracey Kipta. "But what we do encourage individuals to do is to please wait on the line and someone will be happy to assist as soon as they can."
The province advises anyone who is having trouble accessing help while at one of the offices to speak to the manager about the problem.
There is also an independent appeal process for anyone who is denied assistance.