Tag Archives: Bills

Only Child asks: Is $26,793 the new poverty line cut-off for singles?

Me in 1950 - up against the barbed wire fence, a good analogy for worrying

Me in 1950 – up against the barbed wire fence, a good analogy for all the consumer issues

The Ontario Energy Board may think so. Just read on.

I’m on another rampage about getting overcharged for services – this time it’s Toronto Hydro. Rates went up twice this year and although I know with another person in the house (the boarder), consumption goes up somewhat. But the amount seems a little high for just one more person, especially as both of us try to do energy-hogging jobs (like laundry and we wash with cold water and hang up a lot of our laundry) during the so-called cheapest off-peak time periods. And there are no new electrical appliances and the like in the house since February 2011. I don’t think a small dehumidifier counts as a big hydro user, especially as it hasn’t been used for a few months. And I also know I need some new energy-conservation windows but can’t afford them. But that’s been the situation since I moved here 15 years ago. Still the consumption has gone up – or so the latest bill says.

With the last bill two months ago (and it was up too) I tried to get Toronto Hydro – who is my municipal hydro utility – to send someone to come here and check my hydro electric meter to see if that was working okay. All I got from that was “it looks fine from here.” Excuse me, but when did call centre people become hydro tech experts?

I’m going after that end again –when I can find the time with all the other crap going on. In the meantime I’ve checked out other options online at Toronto Hydro – you can get your payments equalized to monthly coming out of your bank account. How that works for rate hikes and consumption which is never the same beats me. The other option is if you are low income (and depending on how many people in your household) you can get some financial assistance (this is Ontario Energy Board) – but it goes through a social service agency.

And that’s where that $26,793 comes in – according to Toronto Hydro, I suppose, as the information says “…in Toronto” a single person whose income is below $26,793 annually could qualify for this help. More specifics are at http://www.torontohydro.com/sites/electricsystem/corporateresponsibility/communityoutreach/pages/lowincome.aspx

So, my question is: Is the new poverty level for a single person living alone now $26,793? Last time I checked it was $19,000 (rounded off). And that’s before you pay taxes but after you take off deductions. With those criteria, I fall below the $19,000.

It’s a sad micro statement of the macro situation in the world today. The so-called middle class is fast disappearing – today you are either rich or poor. The Toronto Star is doing a series on Canadians Me, You, Us by Michael Valpy – and the current stories deal with just this.  Here’s a link to one such story http://www.thestar.com/news/atkinsonseries/2013/12/13/the_incredible_disappearing_middle_class.html

On a happier note – I got some justice from Rogers Cable TV – a voice-mail message from them notifying me the problem had been fixed and if there were any more problems to give them a call. Previously I had been informed that we customers aren’t told when a street problem is fixed and we just had to watch the TV to find out.

If you remember from my post last week I, a non-techie- had figured out what the cause was but it took a lot of shrieking phone calls to get someone to hear me.

Which makes me wonder what will happen with Toronto Hydro when I phone again (now a few months later) to get someone to check the hydro meter – in person, not remote.

And I’m still waiting for my Day-timers to arrive – 2015 perhaps for 2014 Day-timers?

No wonder I’m cranky 24/7. I’m choking on cherry pits.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Consumer action, finances, Life demands, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Uncategorized

Only Child robbed of time etc. by poverty

Only Child  contemplates some harsh financial realities - again

Only Child contemplates some harsh financial realities – again

Living around the poverty level has another bad effect on people. Not only does it kill you but before you die your cognitive functions will nose dive and your time management will fly out the window. I’m living (so far) proof as my poor (pun intended) brain is drowning in trying to get around living like this.

This year seems to be the worst as work has dried up since early July, although there are lots of promises of work to come from next week – writing and editing plus I’m teaching a memoir writing workshop Oct. 1. Hopefully all those readings with other writers (which I’ve been helping plan) will boost book sales or I will be going way Beyond the Tripping Point (the title of my mystery short story collection, Blue Denim Press, 2012). I even have a boarder, temporarily, a friend who needed a place to stay until she gets into public housing (long story and it’s her business). She is paying room and board and helping with buying groceries beyond that. For this I am grateful.

It’s the lacks that are eating away at my brain and my psyche. And I never had that as a child. I’ve blogged about that recently. This year I couldn’t even afford to go to the Canadian National Exhibition, which I usually attend annually. And it’s only $12 for seniors to get in.

A recent study published in the journal Science backs this up. Among other things the study says that poverty uses so much brain power that people living in poverty don’t have enough mind juice to deal with other areas of life, such as good steps to get out of poverty because they are too busy with poverty-induced issues such as finding ways to cut-costs, borrowing etc. to try to pay bills. All this steals from your time, time better spent trying to improve your situation – education, job training, or in my case, marketing my skills. As a result, they make bad decisions which can keep them living longer in poverty. The study was conducted by researchers at Harvard and Princeton Universities (USA) the University of Columbia (Canada) and the University of Warwick (UK).

You can read more about these studies at http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265501.php and http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/health/2013-08/30/c_132676023.htm

I have only two more points to add to this poverty situation – house repairs and continually spiralling utility bills. This month, for the first time I have all utility bills (and property taxes too) to pay and two have their rates gone up. To add insult to this injury, I’m paying the gas bill in two parts – the regular leftover year-end bill and the sort-of –last bill of the year – the one which bills for the difference in the monthly equal billing and the actual usage. Unfortunately, the winter was harsher and we had a long cold spring, so usage was higher. I phoned Enbridge Gas and complained. Apparently they were too stupid to gauge that winter just might be harsher than the one for 2012 and they no longer automatically adjust your equal billing to reflect higher amounts used. I pulled the senior’s card. That got me a division of payment – but I’m not sure it makes much difference if I had paid it all last month or part then and part now. I still have to steal from so-called senior savings (RRSPs and the like) to pay for basic food and some of the bills again this month. It would help if the promised work would come in.

Are you listening God, Universe? Sometimes I have to shout very loud to be heard. So do many others I’m finding out.

It would be interesting to discover if those not being heard are predominantly those living around the poverty level.

Next study on poverty please?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under finances, Life demands, Only child, Poverty, Seniors, Time management, Uncategorized