Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

More Toronto food gift cards on way

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THE Ontario government says it will resume distribution of food-gift cards across the GTA today after hundreds of residents were turned away from Ontario Works offices earlier this week due to short supplies.

The gift cards, intended for Toronto residents who lost food due to power outages caused by last week's ice storm, will be available on Thursday and Friday across 15 Ontario Works offices.

The province says supplies remain limited and are asking residents who are able to wait to pick up their gift cards on Friday when a larger supply is expected to be delivered.

Some residents walked away empty-handed due to high demand for grocery cards

Toronto Hydro says storm clean-up could cost up to $1 million a day.

On Tuesday, close to $160,000 worth of gift cards were distributed to residents and families across Toronto. While grocery giants such as Loblaw, Metro and Sobeys donated $25,000 to the food program, the demand for cards was much higher than anticipated and many residents were turned away.

The province says it hopes to expand the food program to communities outside of Toronto in the coming days and is asking for additional corporate donations.

The government has emphasized the gift cards are intended for people who have lost food due to the storm and are unable to replace it without financial assistance.

Families in need are eligible to receive a $100 gift card while individual residents are eligible for a $50 card. The government says corporate donations and provincial matching funds have raised more than $460,000 so far, with more expected in the coming days.

Meanwhile, eleven days after the ice storm hit, nearly 100 residents across the GTA rang in the new year still without heat or hot water.

Residents in the Midland and St. Lawrence area just got their power back Wednesday afternoon after spending a week and a half in the dark.

"It's freezing, too cold," resident Sadiq Sayed told CTV Toronto. "It's hard to sleep, especially with the small kids, babies," he added.

"It's been really cold, it's been really dark and most of our food was also spoiled, so it's sort of like torture here," said another resident.

Volunteers from the Red Cross have been going door-to-door, handing out blankets and offering hot tea and coffee to residents. A large generator has been brought in to keep residents warm until hydro crews can get the area back on the grid.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 2, 2014 A6

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