Nova Scotia

Cape Breton charities open doors to struggling former ServiCom workers

Charities in Cape Breton are stepping up to meet an expected increase in demand after almost 600 people lost their jobs at a Sydney call centre.

Cape Breton charities and the government have programs that may be able to help the former workers

Cape Breton Regional Police were at the ServiCom offices in Sydney as the company announced it was shutting down on Thursday. (CBC)

Charities in Cape Breton are stepping up to meet an expected increase in demand after almost 600 people lost their jobs at a Sydney call centre.

On Thursday, ServiCom declared bankruptcy and closed. The company has operated in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality for the past 19 years, employing 700 people during peak periods.

"The news was devastating and I know the community will rally behind all of the employees and will rally behind the Salvation Army to make sure these people have a good Christmas," said Maj. Corvin Vincent of the Salvation Army.

What local charities are doing

Here are some of the things Cape Breton groups are doing to help the former ServiCom workers:

  • The Salvation Army, Sydney Community Church on 55 Inglis St. will be opening its food bank on Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. It will also be opening its doors on Monday, Dec. 10, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. for Christmas assistance registration.
  • Loaves and Fishes at 139 Charlotte St. in Sydney will be serving hot meals daily, on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • The Glace Bay Food Bank Society is also available to support families in need. They can be reached at 902-849-0750.
  • The Salvation Army, Glace Bay Community Church says anybody needing assistance should contact them by phone at 902-849-1041 or 902-849-1076. People can also contact them through Facebook.

Government support programs

  • Nova Scotia Works: These centres help people with things such as job searches, career counselling and writing resumés and cover letters. There are 12 centres located in Cape Breton.
  • Employment insurance applications must be filed online. "Always apply for EI benefits as soon as you stop working. You can apply for benefits even if you have not yet received your Record of Employment (ROE)," according to the website. Information about eligibility is posted here and covers details such as the minimum number of hours worked that are needed to qualify for EI.
  • Income assistance is available for those who are eligible by calling 1-877-424-1177.
  • Low-income Nova Scotians can get help paying for home heating through a rebate program offered by the province.
  • Low-income homeowners who need help funding emergency repairs to their homes can apply for financial assistance from Housing Nova Scotia.

How you can help

Vincent said the Salvation Army is setting up an online donation campaign to help the ServiCom workers. He said people can make donations in person at the organization's Christmas kettles in Cape Breton.

"There are people who are in desperate need and every cent that goes into that kettle will be directed towards giving the family a good Christmas," he said.

Do you know of other programs that can help those who are out of work? E-mail us