Thursday, April 1, 2010

May the ecoEnergy Retrofit Program Rest in Peace

Last night at midnight, the Conservative Government suspended the ecoEnergy Retrofit Program which offered Canadians financial incentives to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Homeowners who have either had their initial energy efficiency consultation completed or who have booked an appointment are still eligible for financial assistance as long as they complete their retrofits by March 31, 2011.

The program was launched with much fanfare by the Conservatives in April 2007. By 2009, the program had been accessed by 85000 homeowners. Demand was far higher than projected, partially because some provinces matched Federal Government rebates making it a no-lose situation for some homeowners. In total, the Federal Government will have spent in excess of $170 million on the program.

I can understand that it is essential that governments spend within their means. However, to put this into perspective, this is the same Conservative government that had to be forced to cancel the $10 million annual expenditure on "10 percenters" and that spent $5 million on blatantly partisan Economic Action Plan advertising during the 2010 Olympics. At the maximum grant of $5000, an additional 3000 Canadian households could have benefited from this wasted $15 million which benefited only our politicians.

The ecoEnergy Retrofit Program was a program that benefitted both taxpayers and the environment. By making our homes more energy efficient, Canadians will save after-tax dollars for decades to come. This is extra money in our pockets that we can count on. We don't have to rely our politicians promising temporary tax cuts to put this money into our pockets.

For the past 18 months, home energy prices have been very low and conservation has taken a back seat to other economic issues. As oil prices head back over $100 a barrel (and I suspect well over $100 a barrel) and natural gas prices rise to $10 an Mcf, this program will be sorely missed by all Canadians. Residents of Ontario who are facing both a 7% increase as well as the addition of HST to their electricity rates will miss this program even sooner.

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