The United Way of Bruce Grey reports an increase in the number of households requesting financial support for non-electrical or non-natural gas heat sources.
Executive Director Francesca Dobbyn says there's been nearly 50% more households requiring assistance to pay for wood, oil or propane. The Ontario Energy Board recently moved to ban electricity distributors from cutting power to delinquent accounts during winter months, ensuring those who fall behind on payments still have heat.
"But those traditional rural types of heat, wood, oil and propane, there's no funding stream to assist low income people in purchasing," Dobbyn explains. "It becomes a problem because they're cash on delivery. You need $300-$500 all at once in order for a truck to even deliver, and that's a really challenge for low income households."
Dobbyn says United Way of Bruce Grey has doled out about $120,000 to date in 2017 to provide wood, oil and propane for struggling households. She says there's been 240 residences that have received support for those heating fuel sources -- with another 10-20 forecast for December.
The United Way draws from funding received through the Homelessness Prevention Strategy, but Dobbyn says that fund is low and won't be replenished until spring after recent changes to the national housing strategy.