Ottawa, October 6, 2005

Archived - Government Announces Measures to Address Impact of Higher Energy Costs

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Minister of Finance Ralph Goodale, Acting Minister of Natural Resources John McCallum, Minister of Industry David L. Emerson, Minister of Labour and Housing Joe Fontana and Minister of the Environment Stéphane Dion today announced a package of short-term and longer-term measures to help Canadians deal with high energy costs.

The Ministers presented a plan to act on three fronts:

  • providing timely and direct financial assistance to low-income seniors and low-income families with children;
  • helping families lower their future household heating costs by making their homes more energy-efficient and fast-tracking money to municipalities for investments in public transit-moves that will bring lasting environmental benefits over the longer term; and
  • enhancing market transparency and accountability.

"This comprehensive approach provides timely, short-term relief to millions of low-income Canadians while also setting the stage for a more energy-efficient future" said Minister Goodale.

The Government introduced legislation in Parliament this morning to implement these measures.

Direct Payments to Low-Income Families and Low-Income Seniors

Payments under the proposed Energy Cost Benefit will be:

  • $250 to families entitled to receive the National Child Benefit (NCB) supplement in January 2006;
  • $250 to senior couples where both spouses are entitled to receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) in January 2006; and
  • $125 to single seniors entitled to receive the GIS in January 2006.

About 3.1 million payments totalling $565 million will be sent.

"Delivering payments to this many families and individuals poses a number of challenges, but we are taking steps to ensure that timely relief is delivered to Canadians in need" said Minister Goodale.

Promoting Energy Efficiency, Conservation and Innovation

Minister McCallum, Minister Fontana and Minister Dion announced a number of measures to provide greater protection against future price volatility and achieve lasting environmental benefits by making homes and other buildings more energy-efficient.

"Making our homes and buildings more energy-efficient is a key way for Canadians to offset higher energy prices. The incentives we are providing will help Canadians save energy and money, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change" said Minister McCallum.

"These measures also support Project Green-the Government of Canada's broad environmental vision that links our economic competitiveness and prosperity to a sustainable future. These new initiatives will enable consumers to make more energy-efficient choices to help reduce energy use and costs, while reducing greenhouse gases and helping our country honour our climate change commitments" said Minister Dion.

These measures include $500 million to provide direct financial assistance of between $3,500 and $5,000 to low-income households to defray the cost of items such as draft-proofing, heating system upgrades and window replacement under the new EnerGuide for Low-Income Households (EGLIH) program. For multiple-unit buildings and rooming houses, financial assistance will range between $1,000 and $1,500 per unit. Cost savings will average about 30 per cent per household.

"As a government, we understand that the cost of energy is a major factor in housing affordability" said Minister Fontana. "These measures, in addition to our current Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program, will help more Canadians significantly reduce their energy costs not only immediately, but for years to come."

Additional measures to promote energy efficiency include:

  • $170 million to enrich the EnerGuide for Houses Retrofit Incentive program, which is similar to the EGLIH program but not limited to low-income families. This measure will result in almost 750,000 homes being retrofitted by 2010 instead of the 500,000 projected in Budget 2005-the last time this program's funding was increased;
  • strengthening financial incentives for best-in-class energy-efficient oil and gas furnaces by an average of $150 per unit;
  • corresponding financial incentives, averaging $250 per household, for homes heated with electricity; and
  • increasing retrofit incentives for public sector institutions such as hospitals, schools, municipalities and provincial governments.

In recognition of the growing importance of public transit in the face of rising energy costs, and to give municipalities greater certainty for their own planning purposes, Minister Goodale confirmed that $400 million, previously provided for under Bill C-48, will be freed up in each of the next two fiscal years for municipalities to boost investments in urban transit infrastructure.

Enhancing Market Transparency and Accountability

Actions to improve energy market transparency and accountability include:

  • creating the Office of Petroleum Price Information to monitor energy price fluctuations and provide clear, current information to Canadians. The Minister of Natural Resources will be accountable to Parliament for the Office; and
  • giving Canada's Competition Bureau more powers and strengthening the Competition Act to deter anti-competitive practices. These changes will increase the fines for those convicted of price-fixing to $25 million from $10 million. They will also provide the Competition Bureau with the ability to assess the state of competition in particular sectors of the economy so the Bureau can act more quickly when it suspects anti-competitive behaviour.

"We are strengthening the Competition Act to deal with anti-competitive behaviour" said Minister Emerson. "These amendments will increase deterrence and improve compliance with the law."

Payments under the proposed Energy Cost Benefit and EGLIH program can be issued only after the legislation has received Royal Assent.

Backgrounders containing further information about this comprehensive package are attached.

For more information on these measures and related Government of Canada programs and services, call 1 800 O-Canada (1 800 622-6232), TTY: 1 800 926-9105.

For further information, media may contact:

Pat Breton
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Finance
(613) 996-7861
David Gamble
Public Affairs and Operations Division
Department of Finance Canada
(613) 996-8080
Tom Ormsby
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Natural Resources
(613) 996-2007
Ghyslain Charron
Media Relations
Natural Resources Canada
(613) 992-4447
Peter Graham
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Labour
and Housing
(613) 953-5646
Grace Thrasher
Canada Mortgage and Housing
(613) 748-2375
Christiane Fox
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Industry
(613) 995-9001
Media Relations
Industry Canada
(613) 943-2502
André Lamarre
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of the Environment
(613) 997-1441

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