Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia providing $13M to help address rising fuel costs

The provincial government says it is providing $13.2M to help vulnerable Nova Scotians address the impact of rising fuel prices.

Payments to eligible recipients will be processed next week

The funding includes a one-time payment of $150 to all current income assistance recipients, including disability support program participants receiving income support. (Robert Short/CBC)

The provincial government says it is providing $13.2 million to help vulnerable Nova Scotians address the impact of rising fuel prices.

In a news release, the province said the support package includes the following:

  • A one-time payment of $150 to all current income assistance recipients, including disability support program participants receiving income support.

  • A one-time payment of $150 to all currently eligible recipients of the heating assistance rebate program. The payment is expected to be made by the end of April.

  • $1 million to Feed Nova Scotia to distribute among its 140 food banks provincewide.

  • $200,000 to local food banks across the province that are not part of the Feed Nova Scotia network.

Payments to eligible recipients of income assistance and the disability support program will be processed next week.

People who receive assistance through this year's heating assistance rebate program will automatically receive the extra $150 payment. People are still able to apply to that program until March 31.

The government said the funding will help 35,416 people who rely on income assistance and 2,794 disability support program clients.

The income threshold to qualify for the heating rebate program is $29,000 for single-income households and $44,000 for family-income households.

On average, the program provides more than 45,000 eligible Nova Scotians with a rebate of up to $200 to help with home heating costs.

More supports ahead

Minister of Community Services Karla MacFarlane said this is a challenging time for people living on lower incomes.

She hinted that more supports were imminent.

"This is something that we drafted very quickly and felt that we could get it out really quickly," MacFarlane said Thursday at Province House.

"There certainly will be more to witness when the budget comes out."

MacFarlane also clarified that $150 would be given to each individual in a low-income household, so a family of four would receive $600.

'What are we doing longer term?'

JoAnna LaTulippe-Rochon, executive director of the Cape Breton Family Place Resource Centre — a group that helps feed vulnerable people and find them shelter —  said the funding is "good news for lots of people."

"I like the framing of it as an immediate impact," LaTulippe-Rochon told CBC Nova Scotia News at 6 anchor Tom Murphy.

"It's going to help in the immediate moment, but what are we doing longer term?"

Anecdotally, LaTulippe-Rochon said she's seeing a lot of people who are seeking support for the first time.

"It's starting to creep into our families who are working who are not making enough money," she said.

LaTulippe-Rochon said she wants to see all political parties working together for a long-term strategy, which includes more affordable housing.

"What's happening is people are not able to find housing ... or find housing at affordable cost, and so what they're doing is taking money out of that discretionary food budget to go towards rent and to go towards those housing costs," she said. 

"And it is really leaving people short on food. And we aren't going to get anywhere in terms of a healthy and well community or province if people's basic needs of housing and food aren't accommodated."

With files from Tom Murphy and Michael Gorman

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