On January 16, Mary Jane Patterson, executive director of Reep Green Solutions, made this presentation to Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa as part of his pre-budget consultations.
As an organization that works in energy efficiency and co-leads our community’s Climate Action Plan, we are pleased to give our recommendations for Ontario’s budget, with a particular focus on climate change, conservation and a low carbon economy. Our recommendations also benefit the economic development of Ontario, especially small businesses.
- To facilitate the movement away from fossil fuel heating, we strongly recommend that the current, temporary infusion of provincial funds to the natural gas utilities’ incentive programs become a long term, stable residential energy efficiency retrofit incentive program, verified by independent third party professional energy audits.
- We serve Waterloo Region, which includes Kitchener, one of the two cities in the province with a locally owned natural gas utility. These citizens will be left out when the province’s current contribution to Enbridge and Union Gas conservation programs ends. The utilities may provide incentives for their customers, but homes not served by them will not have access. Incentives should be easily accessible to all Ontarians–regardless of where they live or their choice of heating fuel.
- The incentive program should be stable and long term, to give time for people to learn about a program, and integrate it into their home renovation plans. These are big decisions for homeowners that take time to make and implement. As an organization on the front lines, we see how difficult it is to engage the public in something fleeting, with a limited commitment from the government.
- Small and medium-sized renovation, insulation, and heating and cooling businesses thrive when homes are upgraded to become more energy efficient. Our participants contribute an average of $9,000 per home to the local economy when they take part in the incentive program and make their homes more energy efficient. That is $1 million in the last two years from a little over 100 households in Waterloo Region. It is good for the economy when we reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
- We need to provide much more financial assistance for lower-income households to make the kinds of home energy efficiency upgrades that are provided through the incentive program. People who cannot afford to make changes to their home will otherwise be left out of the low carbon economy, and suffer the most under the carbon tax regime.
- In support of small businesses and of economic growth, energy literacy education should include and support the concept of local energy security, to encourage communities to work together to keep energy dollars local, through energy conservation and local generation.
We look forward to working with the province of Ontario in building together an economy and environment that are sustainable.