Many B.C. residents who receive monthly income assistance by mail may not get their cheques in time for Christmas.
The Abbotsford News has learned that residents at a local men’s treatment centre, which houses people working through their addictions, had not received their cheques by mail as of Thursday evening.
Typically they would be sent out by the second last Wednesday of the month. However, inclement weather suspended service by Canada Post in many regions, including the Fraser Valley.
The provincial government is urging most of the province to stay home on Friday, due to a particularly strong winter storm. That means those who haven’t received their cheques by Thursday could be out of luck on Friday as well.
A staff member at the centre said that the problem is affecting virtually all of their clients.
“A lot of people who are experiencing homelessness, and are addicted, don’t have bank accounts,” the worker said.
Their staff have been working with someone from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, but no clear answers have been given to them.
“I don’t know how far spread this will be,” the worker added.
The Abbotsford News has heard from a handful of local residents, and people in other weather-affected areas of the province, who have confirmed they have not received their January cheque yet, and have been told not to expect it until next week.
One woman said her disability cheque came as usual via her direct deposit, but a “mid-month cheque” she usually gets on the same day via the mail has not yet arrived.
“It usually gets delivered on disability day,” she told The News. ” I feel for everyone who hasn’t received theirs yet, it’s hard enough living on (income assistance) or disability, then throw in only getting paid once a month and delays on top of that. It’s heartbreaking.”
The Abbotsford News requested comment from the ministry and Canada Post and will update this story as new information is received.
UPDATE, 2:08 p.m. Friday:
Canada Post media relations replied to The News, saying “the storm has caused delays on multiple fronts and Canada Post has been affected as well.”
“On Tuesday, we issued a red delivery service alert for the Fraser Valley,” the media officer said. “That meant there was no mail delivery on Tuesday. The alert was upgraded to yellow on Wednesday, so that means we made every effort to deliver the mail but there would be delays and possibly no delivery.”
Canada Post issued a country-wide media advisory Friday, announcing they are currently in a red or yellow service alert in all regions, including the Fraser Valley.