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Food vouchers run out at Toronto distribution centres

Residents who were without power for days lined up for food vouchers for hours on Tuesday, only to be turned away.

Some were given a ticket to come back on Thursday, while others, who were already on Ontario Works or Ontario Disability, were advised to contact their case worker for a credit to their existing account.

“No one has mentioned the word senior,” one angry Toronto senior said at Golden Mile Employment & Social Services, on Eglinton Avenue East near Victoria Park Avenue.

“The [Ontario government] took all our money on the gas plant thing and now they offer us this tidbit. Give the doggie a bone,” she continued.

The vouchers were distributed by the province, who matched private donations up to $100,000. Loblaw, Sobeys, Metro and Shopper’s Drug Mart had each donated $25,000, which was matched, and Louie Coppa Family – A Coppa Family Tradition, donated another $5,000.

Deputy mayor Norm Kelly was also at the Golden Mile employment centre on Tuesday.

“I’m not pointing fingers but this is a provincial program,” he told reporters.

“There is such a disparity between the demand and the supply.”

Kelly said the city now has to get in touch with the province to ask if more funds could be provided, if they were matched by private donors.

Anyone who cannot access one of the 15 Ontario Works offices in Toronto can send someone else, like a relative, with a letter of proxy and valid identification. They will also need to bring proof of address and say how many people are in their family. Click here for more details.

The Daily Bread Food Bank is accepting both cash donations and grocery store gift cards.

Power outages

About 100 Toronto Hydro customers are still without power after an ice storm ravaged the city and much of southern Ontario on Dec. 21.

It will be several more days before power is fully restored.

Early Monday morning, Mayor Rob Ford said that all remaining customers would have power restored that day. By the evening Hydro said they had made significant progress but that it appeared that several dozen would remain without for several more days due to serious damage and external repairs that first need to be addressed by the homeowner.

At the peak of the outages, 300,000 people were without power in Toronto and another 300,000 homes and business in the province were in the dark. They were matched by 17,000 Hydro Quebec customers and roughly 50,000 in New Brunswick.

Tree removal

Tree debris removal will begin Friday and it will continue for approximately eight weeks, weather permitting. Debris must be on the curb or boulevard by Thursday. The city is asking homeowners to provide at least one metre of clearance to ensure those with mobility issues can pass safely.

However, wood from private trees that has fallen on private property should not be taken to the curb. Property owners should contact a private contractor to remove this material.

Homeowners do not need a permit to remove damaged or downed trees that are hazardous.

If you live in the part of Etobicoke that is affected by the Asian long-horned beetle quarantine, city crews and private contractors will clear the debris. Click here for more.

Cost of the cleanup

Ford said the cost to Toronto Hydro is approximately $1 million per day, with the final projected tally between $8-10 million.

Ford is calling for a special city council meeting on Jan. 10 to ask the province for financial compensation through the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program.

The city could get funds to cover damage to public infrastructure and buildings as well as extra city spending needed to deal with the storm. The program can also help private citizens pay for food, shelter, and essential clothing.

Minister’s Statement on Gift Card Distribution:

Today, Madeleine Meilleur, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, issued the following statement on support for residents who lost food because of last week’s ice storm:

“Through the action of generous corporate partners, more than $160,000 in gift cards has so-far been distributed in Toronto to those who lost food in the aftermath of the ice storm.

Demand for the cards has been high, and so more cards will be distributed at Toronto-area Ontario Works offices on Thursday, January 2 and Friday January 3, as available.

These offices are open from 8:30-6:30 on January 2 and 8:30-4:30 on January 3
I want to thank all the involved corporations for their generous donations, and encourage others to consider contributing to this worthwhile effort. To this point, approximately $460,000 has been pledged to the initiative, including provincial matching funds.

I would also like to remind everyone that these gift cards are intended to help those who have lost food and are unable to replace it without financial assistance. This initiative cannot provide gift cards to everyone who lost power, and should be reserved for those facing the most need.

Residents are reminded to first contact their insurance brokers about their coverage and lost food replacement.

Provincial officials have been working with municipalities outside of Toronto to determine the need for a similar initiative. So far interest has been expressed by Durham Region, as well as the cities of Brampton, Guelph and Hamilton, and we are working with them on the best way to begin distribution.

Updates on the initiative and where cards are available will be posted on Ontario.ca/warning.

I’d like to thank all our corporate donors, including: Loblaws, Shoppers Drug Mart, Metro, Sobeys, Bruce Power, Costco, Northland Power, Louie Coppa Family – A Coppa Family Tradition, CUPE Local 416 and the Insurance Bureau of Canada.”