The province will distribute gift cards over the next three days in Hamilton to low-income families who lost food during the ice storm.

The city has received 450 gift cards for Hamilton residents on social assistance, or who fall below the low-income cut off, Mayor Bob Bratina said.

To be eligible, people must have been without power for at least 48 hours. People on Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program are eligible. People who fall under the low-income cut off line are also eligible.

The low-income line is as follows:

  • One person: $23,647 per year
  • Family of two: $29,440
  • Family of three: $36,193
  • Family of four: $43,942

Gift cards will be distributed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Ontario Works office, 2255 Barton St. E.
  • Ontario Works office, 1550 Upper James
  • Huntington Park Recreation Centre, 87 Brentwood Dr.
  • Flamborough Municipal Service Centre, 7 Innovation Dr., Waterdown

There were about 7,000 households who lost power for more than two days during the ice storm, which hit the weekend before Christmas. Of those, 450 households qualify as low income, Bratina said.

Thirty thousand homes lost power in total.

To get the gift card, residents must provide identification with their address, as well as proof of income. A family will receive a $100 gift card and a single person $50. Residents who can't physically make it to an office can call the city at 905-546-CITY to arrange for a gift card to be delivered.

The program will not impact the city tax levy, Bratina said. 

The province handed out more than $840,000 worth of cash cards in Toronto last week to replace food that spoiled when power went out to hundreds of thousands of homes across southern Ontario.

The government and corporate sponsors teamed up to offer the cards. Distribution in Toronto was chaotic, with long lines frustrating and angering many people.

The province seems to have a smoother system for its Hamilton distribution, Bratina said.

The cards were a hot political topic at Queen's Park this week. The Progressive Conservatives accused the Liberals of playing "postal-code politics" by focusing on Toronto.

PC critic Lisa MacLeod said Premier Kathleen Wynne abused taxpayers' money and the corporations that donated gift cards, all for the sake of a quick photo-op in Toronto.

Wellington and the regions of Durham, Halton, Peel, Waterloo and York, as well as Dufferin and Northumberland counties, will also participate in the program.

With files from Canadian Press