The cold waves that have been raging in recent weeks have caused a record of electricity consumption, according to Hydro-Québec. As a result, additional heating costs will be added to a pile of bills that are already too heavy for many Quebecers to pay. More than a third of them report an income of less than $25,000 per year.
Since the beginning of 2022, nearly 10,000 people have used Sun Youth’s help. One of them is a woman who suffers from a major anxiety disorder and lives in a very precarious situation. Her social worker, André Bergeron, called Sun Youth for help in obtaining heating oil. “Her tank was almost empty. Without Sun Youth’s help, she would have no oil today, so no more heating. It was our last resort,” explains Mr. Bergeron.”
Inflation and supply problems
Inflation and supply problems are adding up since the beginning of the year, to make life even more difficult than usual for people living in poverty. “In order to help this lady, it cost $250 more than around the same time last year”, according to Eric Kingsley, Director of Sun Youth’s Emergency Services.”The first heating oil distributor we called informed us that there would be several weeks of waiting before we could get supplies from them.”
The bills that accumulate are a source of distress for many people: “Beyond the cold, the fear of running out of heating can have a major impact on health, anxiety level of course, but also on sleep loss. This client kept the ambient temperature of her home at about ten degrees for the sake of economy, missed medical appointments for fear of leaving home and her water pipes freezing while away from home and also moved part of her budget for food to pay for heating. Everything unravels, adds Mr. Bergeron.”
Sun Youth programs have a proven track record of helping people make ends meet, especially during this time of year.
Through this initiative and thanks to various partnerships, Sun Youth is able to help people having difficulties because of the intense cold. This assistance can take the form of a delivery of heating oil for people whose tank is empty, a negotiation of a payment agreement with Hydro-Québec or access to services to improve the energy efficiency of a residence through the Éconologis program.
Assistance to disaster victims
Every winter, the intense cold can cause many fires and floods. For those who must face such a situation, a home fire is above all the loss of their roof, whether permanent or temporary. For people in a situation of financial insecurity, the fire can then represent a real disaster. Many Montrealers don’t have the means of getting insurance and can rapidly become homeless. In 2020-2021, the Sun Youth emergency teams helped on the scene of 120 interventions from the Montreal Fire Department (Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal) in collaboration with the Canadian Red Cross, Quebec division.
Designed to meet emergency needs, Sun Youth’s food bank allows families and single individuals to get free quality food. It gives access to a variety of basic fresh produce to low-income people, including dairy products, meat and fish. Baskets also contain hygiene products depending on availability. Approximately 35% of our food bank users are under 18 years old and 15% of them over the age of 60. The requests for emergency food assistance are made by appointment for the following day and we do not have a waiting list. The assessment is made on the basis of people’s income.
The medication program is aimed at low-income people covered by the Quebec Public insurance plan. It allows you to pay bills for prescription drugs and medical equipment not reimbursed by the public plan, up to the maximum of the required monthly contribution. In 2020-2021, 304 people benefited from this program for a total value of $23,000. This program is made possible thanks to the support of the Marcelle and Jean Coutu Foundation.
To receive assistance, call 514 842-6822 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Sun Youth (Jeunesse au Soleil)
Since 1954, we have been taking care of Montrealers by intervening with poor individuals and families. We provide a range of emergency services to ensure their basic needs and maintain their integrity. We actively contribute to crime prevention and promote the physical and intellectual development of young people through education, sport and recreation. Our fundamental objective is to alleviate poverty and prevent exclusion. WE HELP.