Heating oil assistance made a regular budget item

The P.E.I. government is offering more than $100,000 to help low-income Islanders to heat their homes, and promised that help will be there in years to come.

Province providing heating aid through Salvation Army last 6 years

The P.E.I. government is offering more than $100,000 to help low-income Islanders heat their homes, and promised that help will be there in years to come.

Community Services Minister Valerie Docherty recognizes the government's home heating oil assistance will not completely cover the need. (CBC)

The government has provided the assistance every winter since 2007-08, but it has been announced annually and sometimes quite late.  Last winter the funding was not announced until January.

The home heating assistance program is run by the Salvation Army. Karen Mallett, a community ministries worker with the Salvation Army in Summerside, said the early announcement is welcome.

"We … have clients coming in saying that they're already out of oil," said Mallett.

"If we know that the money's there, we can actually give our clients a time and date and say this is when you can come in and apply."

Community Services Valerie Docherty said the government is now committed to funding the program annually, and the Salvation Army can count on $121,000 every year.

"It's a figure that now is in our budget, as opposed to the Salvation Army wondering, or even Islanders wondering, will there be money available for this program," said Docherty.

Karen Mallet of the Salvation Army shop in Summerside gave away all the government's home heating oil assistance money in two days last year. (CBC)

The $121,000 is the same amount the province gave last year. While the program is welcome, Mallett said Summerside's share of it won't go far.

"Forty thousand dollars last year is what I had, and I gave that money away in two days," she said.

Docherty said the government is doing the best it can.

"Is there probably ever enough money, no," she said.

"But right now we're pleased that we were able to continue with the program."

The Salvation Army is considering providing less oil per family this year, cutting it to less than 400 litres, so that more Islanders can access the program.

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