Energy

Good Neighbour Energy Fund expanded to include more Nova Scotians

Fund covers firewood, oil, propane or electricity to heat homes

Nova Scotia’s Good Neighbour Energy Fund is open from Jan. 15 to April 30 for assistance to help heat homes.   Silas Brown

The province says the Good Neighbour Energy Fund’s eligibility requirement has been raised to help more Nova Scotians heat their homes this winter.

The income threshold went from $16,000 in 2017 to $21,000 for single income and from $24,000 to $39,000 for a family of four. The Salvation Army, which runs the program, started to take applications on Monday.

“It takes a village, not only to raise a child, but to accomplish so many other things in community,” said Maj. Wade Budgell, divisional commander of the Salvation Army.

“What we are unable to accomplish as one agency often becomes not only possible, but very powerful when a collection of partners in the community come together in the spirit of unity and cooperation.”

The fund has been run through the Salvation Army since 1997. Applications are open from Jan. 15 until April 30. Applicants receive up to $400 worth of resources to heat their home, whether it’s wood, oil or electricity. Applicants can only reapply every two years because the fund is meant to act as emergency assistance.

“It can happen to anyone, like in situations as the storm earlier this month or the cold we have been facing this winter,” said Halifax Atlantic MLA Brendan Maguire, who announced the eligibility change Monday at the Salvation Army on Gottingen Street.

For James Woods, the program co-ordinator at the Salvation Army, the announcement was good news. Woods works directly with applicants who need firewood, coal, fuel oil, propane or electricity in winter. He often receives applications from people of all ages.

Last year the Energy Fund program helped 1,877 people, but Woods said more than 2,200 people applied. Most of the applications came from Cape Breton.

Woods said people are applying to the program as early as November, even though it does not open till January.

“It’s disheartening when you get phone calls saying, ‘we are out of oil; we are cold,'” said Woods. “And I try my best to get the applications processed quickly, so that we can help out as many as we can.”

The provincial government is providing up to $800,000 for the fund, while Nova Scotia Power is providing $150,000. Nova Scotia Power says the money comes from outside donations, employee payroll donations and the company’s commitment to match employee fundraising efforts.

Anna Weinstein, spokesperson for the Clean Foundation, also attended Monday’s announcement. She said she works directly with people in low-income situations to incorporate environmental efficiency to improve their financial situation.

“Emergency funds are for crisis situations,” she said after the news conference. “They are not for addressing systemic issues like socio-economic oppression, racial injustice and environmental racism that lead to people being in those situations. That requires a different approach. It the meantime, those things take time and it’s really important to have resources to help people on the spot.”

The Good Neighbour Energy Fund application forms are available on the Salvation Army’s website, at local Salvation Army churches, offices or Salvation Army Thrift Stores.