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Feds launching home retrofit program in effort to reach net-zero emissions

Last Updated May 27, 2021 at 9:47 am PDT

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives at a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

People expected to get up to $5,000 for projects on their homes that make them more energy efficient

Climate advocate says similar program by previous government worked to increase home retrofits

Concerns remain over how program may leave out certain groups of people

OTTAWA – The Trudeau government has launched a new home retrofit program that could see people receive up to $5,000.

People would receive the money for projects on their homes that will help make the dwellings more energy efficient; things like installing solar panels or replacing windows and doors.

“In the coming years, the Greener Homes Grant is expected to create over 110,000 jobs. This program will mean new opportunities for people in communities of every size and every part of the country, whether with jobs in the construction, and heating, and cooling industries, or the energy efficiency sector,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Thursday.

About $2.6 billion has been set aside as part of the Canada Greener Homes Grant, with the federal government hoping to make up to 700,000 homes more energy efficient over the next seven years.

“It will enable significant upgrades to Canadian homes to help fight climate change,” said Brendan Haley, executive director of Efficiency Canada, adding a similar program introduced by the previous Harper government was successful at increasing home retrofits.

“The number of homes retrofitted shot up from less than one per cent a year to about 2.5 per cent per year. So we definitely know it drives participation,” he explained.

This is part of the federal plan to kick start the economy and meet the climate goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Energy inefficiency in buildings accounts for about 17 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Isabelle Turcotte, director of federal policy at the Pembina Institute, hopes people take advantage of this new program, saying we need to boost the number of homes getting these important retrofits.

“Right now we’re at about one per cent of the stock. The renovation wave that we need to see to meet our climate goals has to be quadruple that size,” she said.

However, there are still some concerns.

Haley says it’s still unclear how much this program will reduce emissions toward Canada’s climate goals. He adds if people have to front the cash for these projects, it won’t help everyone.

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“Who’s really left out in the whole policy mix is low-income Canadians,” he said.