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Limited Uptake Hampers Federal Climate Initiative

A federal climate initiative aimed at encouraging homeowners to transition from oil furnaces to more environmentally friendly heating solutions has seen minimal participation.

The program, which offers a $15,000 grant to support the switch to electric cold climate heat pumps, was designed to offer financial relief on heating bills and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Despite these incentives, records reveal that nationwide adoption has been low, with only 80 homeowners completing the transition, as first covered by Blacklock’s Reporter.

The program was highlighted as justification for supporting a substantial carbon tax relief aimed at voters in the Atlantic region, where an estimated 286,000 households rely on home heating oil. Launched on Feb. 28, 2023, the initiative received 1,241 applications, out of which 361 were rejected, marking a 29 percent denial rate.

The lackluster uptake was disclosed in a response to an Inquiry of Ministry, prompted by questions from Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs.

“How many applications for funding through the Oil to Heat Pump Affordability Program have been received?” she asked.

The disclosure comes in the context of the government’s decision last November to suspend a 17¢ per litre carbon tax on home heating oil until after the forthcoming election, a move projected by the Budget Office to cost $1.08 billion.

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Defenders of the tax relief, including Atlantic Liberal MPs, argue that it is a critical measure to aid constituents in transitioning away from oil heating. MP Kody Blois, representing Kings-Hants, Nova Scotia, emphasized the program’s potential benefits for the environment and that it’s a solution rather than slogans.

Despite the recognition of the program’s value among some community members, particularly seniors, the overall national engagement remains low.

“When I went out in my riding this past summer I talked to seniors,” said Mr. Blois. “They would tell me this is a great program.”

The tax relief came after internal polling that identified significant opposition to the carbon tax in Atlantic Canada, a region where the Liberal Party holds a significant number of seats. The findings suggested skepticism among Canadians regarding the effectiveness of a carbon price in reducing emissions.

In a report titled “Continuous Qualitative Data Collection of Canadians’ Views,” researchers noted, “Asked whether they believed the implementation of a price on carbon would encourage Canadians to reduce their emissions, none expected it would.”

On Feb. 5, a proposal led by Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre sought to persuade the Liberal government to abandon its planned carbon tax hike set for April 1. The motion did not pass, ending in a 209 to 119 vote.

While Conservative members supported the motion, it was opposed by representatives from the Liberal, NDP, Bloc Québécois, and Green parties, with Liberal MP Ken McDonald being the sole exception.

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