Nova Scotia

Salvation Army assists ServiCom workers with food and utilities

Money donated to the Salvation Army for ServiCom employees goes into a separate account and is distributed in the form of groceries and help with other needs.

The organization says it's contacting all 600 workers to determine individual needs

Former ServiCom workers fill out paperwork to receive aid from the Salvation Army. The Sydney, N.S., call centre declared bankruptcy last week, owing employees nearly four weeks in wages plus bonuses. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

It's been a week since more than 600 people lost their jobs when the ServiCom call centre closed in Sydney, N.S.

Thousands of dollars in donations have been flooding in from the community since the news broke, but the cash isn't being handed out directly to workers. 

Money donated to the Salvation Army for the employees goes into a separate account and is distributed in the form of groceries and payments for oil and power, said Maj. Corey Vincent.

He said the Salvation Army never hands out cash.

Former ServiCom worker Wesley Pye says he could use cash to pay bills. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

But some former workers  — already owed three weeks worth of pay and bonuses when ServiCom declared bankruptcy — say they could use that money.

"No one's actually given us any cash right now, nothing is helping now," said Wesley Pye.

"It's great to know the community is supporting us — there's no actual cash to help us through now."

Pye said although food from the Salvation Army is appreciated, cash in hand would be useful, too. 

"If somebody were to say, 'Listen, man, here's $50 or here's $100' — I know it ain't much, but at least we know we're going to eat this week and have money for things we need now," he said. 

More than 600 people worked at the ServiCom call centre in Sydney, N.S., when it shut its doors last week. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

Emma Laing, another former employee, said she's behind on her rent and her other bills, but is OK with donations being sourced through the Salvation Army.

"Everybody would like to see cash, but I think that the Salvation Army and groups like that, they can make $100 go further than I could because they can buy things in bulk and they can help out with heating rebates, things like that," she said.

Vincent said the Salvation Army has hired extra staff to contact all 600 former workers to offer help with expenses such as oil, electricity and rent. 

"We've been working closely with human resources from ServiCom, we have a list of all the employees," he said.

"Today actually, we're making phone calls and going down through the list and we will be assessing the needs of each individual person on an individual basis." 

'In it for the long haul'

Next week, the Salvation Army has blocked off two days, one for handing out the 600 turkey dinners donated by Sobeys and the next day for giving out toys. 

Vincent said the organization is also planning for beyond Christmas. 

"This is not a week-long thing, this is not a two-week thing — this is a process. And the Salvation Army, we're in it for the long haul," he said.

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story said the Salvation Army would assess needs such as heating, food and rent. However, the Salvation Army will not be using emergency funding for rent.
    Dec 14, 2018 2:17 PM AT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

From people around the corner to those around the world, Norma Jean MacPhee has more than a decade of experience telling their stories on the radio, TV and online. Reach Norma Jean at norma.jean.macphee@cbc.ca

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