"After another week of frustrated Islanders having to endure long line ups, inaccurate referrals and misinformation, something must change immediately. I am calling on the King government to instruct the Red Cross to stop the identity verification process for accessing the $250 Fiona disaster relief payment.
"I continue to receive massive amounts of calls from households in my riding who have made three, or more, trips to Summerside, Charlottetown - and in some cases Montague - from O’Leary and still not getting the process completed to receive these badly needed funds.
"Islanders with disabilities and families with young children are waiting in long line ups and spending more money on transportation than what they are going to receive in support, just to prove that they exist. It is unacceptable.
"When this program was first announced Residents of West Prince and all rural areas of the province were instantly at a disadvantage by not having a Red Cross location for the area. The satellite office that opened in Summerside does not appear to be alleviating the frustrations and inconvenience. Now I am hearing from residents that the process has been so difficult they are not going to bother applying at all. It is heartbreaking.
"There has to be a better way. Enough is enough. I understand the importance of being accountable for taxpayer funds, but we are now in a desperate situation. I do not believe for one second that government has absolutely no database or departmental
information that can be utilized to help Red Cross confirm identities. Using soft credit checks is discriminatory and disproportionately affects low-income households and seniors.
"I am calling on the King government to do away with the need for identity verification to access this support and provide the Red Cross with any and all information the province has to confirm residency. While it is not the ideal situation, the Red Cross and the King government have proven ill-equipped and unprepared to deliver this program as they had hoped, and people are suffering as a result."
Robert Henderson, MLA
O’Leary - Inverness