It’s cold up here

Authority Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation

Jennifer called us on a Friday from a northern community. She explained she had no money and no food. The fuel company had cut off her heating fuel and the temperature was expected to dip below freezing.

She said that when she contacted the Ministry of Social Development to ask for help, the ministry said she could pick up a $20 cheque the following day. When Jennifer went to get the cheque she was told that the printer was broken and she would have to wait to receive the cheque in the mail once the printer was fixed. Jennifer said that the ministry did not offer her any alternative such as a food voucher. We contacted the ministry’s manager of community relations and service quality and explained that we were investigating whether the ministry had responded to Jennifer’s situation in a reasonable way. He reviewed Jennifer’s situation with local staff right away. He also agreed with us that in a situation where the printer was broken, the ministry should have explored other ways to assist Jennifer, such as issuing a food voucher.

The manager noted that Jennifer had a boarder who was receiving a cheque from the ministry that day and suggested that it might assist Jennifer to have room and board paid directly to her by the ministry. The manager called us back and confirmed that staff had contacted the fuel company to arrange for reconnection and that the ministry issued payment for reconnection. The manager also explained that the cheque for Jennifer’s boarder was issued directly to her. When we talked to Jennifer later, she told us that she had received her boarder’s room and board cheque on Friday and she was able to purchase food. She said that she understood that she would now receive the room and board cheque directly from the ministry. She also confirmed that her heat had been reconnected.

The steps taken by the ministry’s manager and local staff resulted in Jennifer having heat and food. We were pleased to have helped to ensure that Jennifer received the support she needed.

Category Income and Benefits
Type Case Summary
Fiscal Year 2012
Location The North