Feel­ing the pinch in Broad Cove

The Compass - - OPINION -

My name is Wanda White. I am 53 years old and dis­abled. So­ci­ety does not want to hear about sit­u­a­tions like mine, nor should they, in an ideal world. But this is not an ideal world, rather it is a world where peo­ple are only con­cerned if some­thing af­fects them di­rectly.

Things like Hiber­nia oil finds or Muskrat Falls and big stakes wheel­ing and deal­ing. The story I am about to re­late to you is all true and based on my cur­rent sit­u­a­tion. But it af­fects the peo­ple on in­come sup­port and se­niors. I am hop­ing some­one in a po­si­tion to af­fect change for all sees this.

I am so frus­trated and down right now. It all started in 2003-04 when we ap­plied for and re­ceived a grant to up­grade the wiring in our home. We were TOLD we had to in­stall elec­tric heat in or­der to bring our house up to code. Re­fusal meant no grant.

So un­der protest we had the house wiring up­graded. The rea­son for my protest was quite sim­ple: we could not af­ford to use it, at least un­til our old age, so I saw it as waste­ful. We al­ways had oil, right?

Then came 2007-08, and with it ex­tremely high oil prices. Well we man­aged to squeak by for two years but we no­ticed black specks both inside and out­side our house. A fine film of soot cov­ered us: our clothes, fur­ni­ture and even sid­ing and snow.

Upon closer in­spec­tion of our oil bill, we saw that what we were get­ting was FUR­NACE OIL and that it had been crossed off and marked in ink STOVE OIL. We called the com­pany who in­formed us that they did not sup­ply stove oil but rather “a syn­thetic blend” and they were not re­spon­si­ble for any dam­ages to us or our house con­tents, in­clud­ing the stove.

In De­cem­ber 2011 we re­luc­tantly turned on our elec­tric heat. Then came the phone call. It was 8:30 in the morn­ing when the phone rang. It was from New­found­land Power, de­mand­ing a fur­ther $100 per month in ad­di­tion to the amount we al­ready pay.

I must de­tour here to point out we in­tend to pay, but we want to draw your at­ten­tion to the fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties peo­ple like us en­counter daily.

Our cur­rent to­tal in­come per month is $660. Our house­hold ex­pen­di­tures monthly are: • phone —$60; • In­ter­net —$60; • trans­porta­tion — $40; • lights — $100; • clothes, etc — $20; • gro­ceries — $95/week for four weeks. This is a to­tal of $660 both in and out. It does not cover in­ci­den­tals like paint, or fix­ing any­thing that breaks down. What do we give up when we have so lit­tle?

Do we give up our life­line in an emer­gency, our phone? Our only en­ter­tain­ment and link to what’s hap­pen­ing in the world, now that we have no TV (since it went dig­i­tal), our In­ter­net?

Or do we give up eat­ing and die of mal­nu­tri­tion and star­va­tion? WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Too ghastly to print? It’s MY RE­AL­ITY and no doubt, that of count­less oth­ers in New­found­land. My ques­tion is when is so­ci­ety at large go­ing to in­sist that the down­trod­den and poverty-stricken be shown some re­spect and dig­nity in­stead of turn­ing a blind eye in ig­no­rance?

When is the gov­ern­ment of the day go­ing to re­al­ize that while Nal­cor and Muskrat Falls may be the or­der of the day, there are peo­ple be­ing con­demned to fur­ther hard­ship and mis­ery be­cause of the deals? Wanda White writes

from Broad Cove

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