No reprieve for uninsured homeowners hit with storm damage from Fiona, says minister
The federal government won't be bending its rules to help uninsured homeowners in Nova Scotia who suffered damage from post-tropical storm Fiona, says Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair.
Speaking with Cape Breton's Information Morning program Wednesday, Blair said the eligibility requirements are crystal clear, and consistent across the country. And in the interest of fairness, he's not budging.
People who didn't buy insurance for wind and rain damage do not qualify for the national Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements program. The program is administered by the province, but funded by the federal government which also sets the criteria to qualify.
Earlier this year, the Nova Scotia asked Blair for an "updated interpretation" so that wind and rain damage could be considered under the program.
"For over 50 years ... this eligibility criteria has been in place," Blair said. "And it's been well articulated to every province and territory, exactly what expenses will be eligible for reimbursement to them, and through them, to the people that have been impacted."
The DFAA is designed for circumstances where insurance is not available, such overland flooding, which can't be insured in some parts of the country.
"Unfortunately, in Hurricane Fiona some of the damage was as a direct result of insurable charges," said Blair. "And so if people chose not to get insurance it doesn't make those expenses eligible."
Terra Babstock falls into that category. Fiona caused damage to her Glace Bay home that cost upwards of $60,000 to repair.
"I needed too many renovations done to my home to be able to get insurance," she said. "I had to get all new electrical work done. And I had to move my oil tank from one area of the house to another area of the house because it was unsafe where it was."
Babstock is in university, and her husband is on a pension.
"And I just didn't have the funds to do all that," she said.
Blair did say the province is free to set its own eligibility criteria, and to pay for any repairs not covered by the federal program at its own expense.
Premier Tim Houston would not say if his government will do that. Instead, he said he'll be looking for more clarity on the DFAA.
"We'll have those discussions with the federal government to make sure that we understand the rules around the program, and we can use those programs as effectively as we can to help Nova Scotians," said Houston.
Meanwhile, the water has been coming through Babstock's damaged roof.
"I don't think it's right. They should be able to help people that are in need of help," she said.
The Mennonite Disaster Service has stepped in, and is currently making the necessary repairs. Without that charity, Babstock and her husband would have to move out.
MORE TOP STORIES