The province is introducing a heating rebate for low-income Nova Scotians, but it won’t help Bonnie Heffler one bit.
Heffler, a single mom, lives in a heat-included Dartmouth townhouse. Of her $749 monthly social assistance, she spends $550 a month on housing — and her co-op is considering raising the rent to cope with rising oil costs.
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Since Heffler doesn’t pay for heat, she won’t qualify for the rebate.
“If they raise my rent, I’m in trouble,” Heffler said.
She will get a $4 monthly increase in her social assistance this year, but said that won’t help much.
The province announced in yesterday’s budget it’s cutting $28 million out of the rebate on everyone’s power bills to pay for the low-income heat rebate.
Starting May 15, it will eliminate the eight per cent tax rebate on electricity that isn’t used to heat your home. You’ll pay full HST on the $10.83 basic fee, and on power up to 27.4 kilowatt hours per day. The move means a family of three will pay $95 more a year.
And you won’t get a tax rebate on your power bill at all between May 15 and Aug. 31.
The province will use $10 million of the money it’s saving to create a $150 or $200 heating rebate for low-income Nova Scotians. But they’ll have to apply for it. In 2005, 9,000 people eligible for Keep the Heat, a similar rebate program, didn’t apply.
Finance Minister Michael Baker said staff will send filled-in forms to former Keep the Heat clients in hopes they will apply.
The province will put $400,000 into the Salvation Army’s Good Neighbour program, which helps those who can’t pay their heating bills.
It’s also spending $768,000 to increase income assistance rates by $4 a month, and spending another $18 million to create 300 affordable housing units.