Wilmot woman without heat, lights, food

Heather Killen
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Tammy Hazelton, a Wilmot resident, receives just $240 per month to pay the light bill and buy food. She fell behind on her payments to Nova Scotia Power and is now living without any heat or electricity. 

Tammy Hazelton has been burning the candles at both ends - and she’s just run out of wicks.

The Wilmot-area woman says Nova Scotia Power shut off her electricity last month after she couldn’t keep up with her payments. She was on a monthly payment plan, but some of her electric bills went over budget. 

“The bills were higher than expected and it went over my budget,” she said. “I fell behind.”

Some of her outstanding bills date back to last year, when she couldn’t afford to buy oil and was using electric heaters to stay warm. While this winter has been fairly mild so far, she now finds herself with outside temperatures dropping well below zero and is living in the dark, without a heat source and food.

She had been burning propane heaters and candles to stray warm, she says, but now she’s run out of money for propane and has no more candles to burn. She says she’s also afraid of eviction from the trailer she’s been living in for the past six years.  

She had been working seasonally at a local campground, but her hours were cut last season and she is now living on social assistance. While the assistance automatically pays the rent, afterwards she is left with about $240 each month to pay the light bill and buy food.

Her roommate helps cover some of the expenses, but Hazleton doesn’t have much money to put towards buying groceries or paying extra on her bills. Even her cellphone has run out of daytime minutes, so while she can accept incoming calls, she can’t make any calls before 7 p.m., making it difficult to access the help she needs from caseworkers or charities.

Making things even more complicated, she doesn’t have a vehicle and lives along a stretch of road that is not serviced by King Transit. In order to access the public transit system, she needs to catch the bus either at Frenchys or in Kingston. Either way, it means a long hike.

 “I won’t even get a Christmas box this year because I couldn’t get to Middleton and missed the deadline for applying,” she said.

The local Lion’s Club has offered to help her, she says, but she so far she hasn’t heard from anyone and is unable to call them.

Because she has no reliable transportation, she has trouble getting to the food bank and even down to Middleton, where she can access emergency help through the Salvation Army. She meant to go to Middleton last week, but her cheque was late being deposited in her account.

A 12-hour delay may not seem like long time to wait, but it can be catastrophic when you are depending on the money to be there. Hazleton says she has been trying to find someone to help her. She was waiting on Leo Glavine’s office, hoping that she could access public housing.

Glavine says his office has been working on Hazelton’s behalf for a while and has some options for her to consider. He added that if she’s willing to find a new place to live, the Department of Community of Services is willing to help pay for her move.

Brenda Thompson, community outreach co-ordinator for the Women’s Place Resource Center, says that Hazelton is not alone in her situation. Since November, she has been asked to help four other women in similar circumstances, and it’s getting harder to access resources to help.

“I have a woman now waiting outside my office needing help,” she said Dec. 10. “And I can’t get a hold of people. I’ve tried the Lions Club, the Salvation Army, it’s hard to get anyone on the phone.”

Thompson added that one of the challenges of living in a rural area is the lack of public transportation. In order to access emergency help from the Salvation Army, people need to apply in person; a real problem if they don’t have access to a vehicle and live off the bus route.

Researchers at Mount St. Vincent University maintain that income-related food insecurity is an ongoing issue for at least nine per cent of Nova Scotian households, higher than the national average of 7.7 per cent.

According to data complied by Annapolis Valley Health, about 47 per cent of the people in this area are earning less than $20,000 per year. Poverty, isolation and stress are key factors in developing chronic illness, having a devastating effect on our healthcare system.

Poverty is linked with higher rates of crime, increased health care needs, higher school drop-out rates, and lost productivity, according to researchers.

In 2011, Feed Nova Scotia reported that the number of people relying on food banks is increasing, with a 59 per cent increase in the number of families assisted in the Valley-Yarmouth region since 2008.



Organizations: Nova Scotia Power, Salvation Army, Department of Community Place Resource Center Lions Club Mount St. Vincent University

Geographic location: Wilmot, Middleton, Kingston Nova Scotian Yarmouth

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Recent comments

  • gina hewey
    December 12, 2013 - 20:13

    Please oh please make these donations forwarded to Kingston's Lions Club. I have know this woman for over 10 years and there is way more to this than being told!!!

  • Donna Charest
    December 11, 2013 - 11:31

    Oh dear... it makes me angry to hear this .. It shouldn't happen here in NS.. where is her parents, her neighbors , her friends, her co-workers .. She needs help people.. Drive her where she has to go for help. This story breaks my heart. and it should never happen... NS Power , you should be ashamed of yourself... I just don't know what else to say but...shame on you people.

  • unknown
    December 11, 2013 - 09:54

    and this ladies and gentlemen is what is wrong with Nova Scotia....a power company with a complete monopoly and a province full of too many people with way too much time on their hands that sit around and protest any development that this province t can have to create jobs and economy , We can have natural gas lines , or even start fracking ,use our resources , NFLD and NB have already started to see the light , but not us , this province if full of rich retired foreigners that don't need to work , but keep going NS , keep going ,everyone under the age of 40 will be out in Manitoba ,Alberta or BC and all you will have let here are retirees , and then what will you do ! , I used to love this province but all I do now is count the days until we move to Alberta ! This whole situation makes me sick to my stomach , and guess what the Government will DO NOTHING !

  • Joanne Muron
    December 11, 2013 - 06:10

    Is there a place to donate to her?

  • unknown
    December 11, 2013 - 03:30

    this is so sad, but something needs to be done about what social services does to people in need. I was one of those people and I know how it is. .

  • raymond keizer
    December 10, 2013 - 23:31

    what a freakin joke!!!! tammy lives in that trailer wit her bf and his cousin crystal.he has a works comp check as well as another government check every month.they have 3 incomes in that place...may be if they would get off the drugs they would have money to pay their bills instead of looking for a hand out....that's what is majourly wrong with our system we got people who have to take drug tests so we can earn our money ..and people that use the system don't have to for their money that way they can go spend it on booze and more drugs ...and then cry that system dosent give them enuff money..what a joke..may b they should pass a drug test for that money and then see how far their cash will go..

    • Puzzled
      December 13, 2013 - 00:41

      How do you know how she lives, and that she lives with her bf and cousin? Do you have proof of all you've said for all to see? If this is so, why haven't they been reported.?

    • Puzzled
      December 13, 2013 - 00:42

      How do you know how she lives, and that she lives with her bf and cousin? Do you have proof of all you've said for all to see? If this is so, why haven't they been reported.?

  • James
    December 10, 2013 - 23:05

    I think it's bad that our so called government can help all the useless people out there that take advantage of the system. our politicians help the lazy or stupid just like them selves while the real people that need help suffer. nova Scotia. what a joke. no wonder anything good for people here end up leaving. how could anyone be proud to live here when our government waste money on a useless cause or people that abuse the system the same way they make sure they themselves never go without.. get a clue nova Scotia. there is a lot of good people here. start helping them for once instead of yourselves and the lazy. oh that's right your one of the same.

  • tammy watkins
    December 10, 2013 - 19:10

    there are many of us even on disability who dont get enough to cover our expenses my husband and I are in a place really not to fit to live with our five year old grandson we now get child tax after four years of raising him,our home is but we cant afford to move rent is higher lights oil are higher not to mention food single people certainly dont get enough seems unfair to many.I tried to find another place to live but cant afford it social assistance only allows 620 to cover rent heat and lights and 240 each for personal such as food clothing and etc our grandson is not even on the check we depend on his child tax for that hard for alot of people andthe sad part is we are on this permently.