Many Greater Toronto residents are clamouring to get their hands on gift cards aimed at compensating residents who lost food during the lengthy power outage — but the program got off to a bumpy start this morning.

Families in need are eligible for $100 gift cards available at Ontario Works offices throughout the city, while individuals in need are eligible for $50 gift cards.

But many offices ran out of the cards before noon today, leaving many people stuck in lineups for cards that were no longer available.

“Now I’m a senior, I came all the way here … it’s snowing outside and they're telling me that there’s no cards," said Carol Benuzzi. "Now this is ridiculous, for seniors to come all this way and there’s no cards.”

Adding insult to injury, some found a $250 parking fine waiting for them.

"I admit it's not right to park in a fire route but it's a time of crisis," Gary MacDonald told CBC News.

carol benuzzi gift card

Carol Benuzzi is frustrated she was unable to get her hands on a gift certificate on Tuesday. (CBC)

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly admits there were some glitches but says he won't second-guess a decision to hand the cards out on a first-come first-service basis.

Kelly says the program runs all week and gift cards are being replenished. He's asking people to be patient.

"The key to everything this past week has been speed," he said. "The first couple days is a learning experience and you get better as you go into the week."

Initially, 65,000 cards were available across the province for those who lost food during the ice storm.

Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Monday that the Ontario government will match corporate donations up to a maximum of $100,000.

Loblaw put forward a $25,000 donation for the program, which was matched by the provincial government.

The following retailers have also stepped forward with $25,000 donations of their own, each matched by the province including:

  • Shoppers Drug Mart.
  • Metro.
  • Sobeys.
  • Coppas Fresh Maket has also donated $5,000 in gift cards.

At the height of the outage, about 300,000 customers in the Greater Toronto area were without power. Some were in the dark for as long as nine days after an ice storm hit the region last weekend.