Belliveau asking for all-party support to help vulnerable Nova Scotians cope with loss of food

July 10, 2014

(Liverpool, NS) NDP MLA Sterling Belliveau is asking all parties to work together to ensure families are protected against the loss of food in the event of an extended power outage.

Earlier today Belliveau sent a letter to Energy Minister Andrew Younger, Premier Stephen McNeil, Minister of Justice Lena Diab and opposition leader Jamie Baillie asking the government to assist vulnerable families in replacing food they lost in the days following post-tropical storm Arthur. Belliveau is also asking the government to develop a long-term plan that would encourage Nova Scotia Power to help families replace food lost due to power outages.  

Belliveau says while some have been calling for fines to be levied against Nova Scotia Power in the wake of Arthur, he suggests those fines could be used to set up an account to help families replace lost food. Belliveau made the comments after hearing Nova Scotia Power CEO Bob Hanf tell reporters that his company does not compensate for lost food and suggested customers contact their insurance companies. He says for many families that just isn’t possible.

 Jodi Bishop of Lakeville says her family lost close to $800 worth of food this week.

 “We’ve had to empty the freezer and it’s taken a toll on our household income,” said Bishop. “I’ve called the insurance company, they may be willing to drop my deductible but my premiums would likely go up. Right now I don’t know what to do. There is just no way we can replace what we lost following the storm. It doesn’t seem fair that my family is being hurt because Nova Scotia Power still hasn’t turned my power back on after 5 days. Really the power company has to take some responsibility here.”

Belliveau says Ms. Bishop is just one of many families he’s heard from this week who have lost a lot of food and expects MLAs of all stripes are getting similar calls for help.

“For many low income families going to an insurance company isn’t an option. If someone is struggling to pay for food, they aren’t going to be able to afford a $1000 deductible or to have their premiums go up,” said Belliveau. “In the last week I’ve seen large families lose freezers filled with food as a result of the extended power loss. I’m optimistic that by working together we can do something to help.”

Belliveau hopes in the coming weeks parties can work together to develop legislation for fall but in the meantime he would like to see a temporary program put in place as soon as possible.

“I don’t have all the answers but I do know creating a program to assist vulnerable families in the event of an extended power outage is the right thing to do,” added Belliveau.