Federal Government Pledges $103.7 Million for Heat Pumps in BC

Federal Government Pledges $103.7 Million for Heat Pumps in BC
Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault lresponds to a question during a news conference in Ottawa on June 14, 2023. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Chris Tomlinson
Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault has announced $103.7 million in funding to help British Columbians switch to heat pumps from oil and other fossil fuel furnaces, saying it will bring down home energy costs.

The money will come from Canada’s Low Carbon Economy Fund (LCEF) and the Oil to Heat Pump Affordability (OHPA) program, while the B.C. government will partner by offering an additional $151 million.

Low- and middle-income households will qualify for a rebate of up to $16,000 to switch from oil to high-efficiency pumps as part of the OHPA program, while those with natural gas and propane heating will received rebates through LCEF.

The rebate is an increase from the previous $10,000 rebate and makes B.C. the first province outside of Atlantic Canada to take advantage of the increased grant announced in October 2023.

Eligible households in northern B.C. could also qualify for an extra $3,000 for the installation of new heat pumps, and homes that require an upgrade of an electrical heater could qualify for up to $5,000.

In total, those low- and middle-income households that qualify for the program could see rebates as high as $24,000 in total for the heat pumps and installation, while those who switch from oil heating to electric could also receive a one-time upfront payment of $250.

The Environment Department said those switching to electric heating could save as much as 80 percent compared to using fossil fuels.

Energy company Fortis, which operates in B.C., said heating oil can cost households in the northern interior of the province as much as $6,715 per year.
The OHPA grant was initially announced in 2022 and was given $250 million in federal funding, but as of November 2023 there had only been 43 new installations through the program.

Just a month earlier, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had announced he was pausing the carbon tax on heating oil for three years in the Atlantic provinces and increasing the subsidy from $10,000 to $15,000 for homeowners who switched from oil heating.

According to the federal government, around 1.1 million homes across the country use oil for heating during the colder seasons, particularly in Atlantic Canada.

While the government initially budgeted $750 million overall for the OHPA, the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) released estimates earlier this year that stated as many as 244,000 households could be eligible for the grant and the true costs could be far more.

“If all eligible households access the program, we estimate that the OHPA program could have a maximum potential cost of $2.7 billion,” the PBO said.

The new investment in B.C. comes after Premier David Eby called on the federal government to also grant B.C. relief from the carbon tax on home heating, claiming it was unfair that the Atlantic provinces were given a three-year pause. B.C. was excluded from the relief due to the province collecting its own fuel tax.
Mr. Eby and the NDP also face an election later this year in the province, where the provincial Conservatives have steadily risen in the polls, with some showing the Tories just 6 points away from the ruling NDP.
In their party platform, the B.C. Conservatives have vowed to scrap the provincial carbon tax, claiming “it is unfair to rural and northern communities and leads to the offshoring of jobs overseas.”
Another poll released earlier this year by Leger suggested that British Columbians have largely soured on the carbon tax, with 73 percent saying they wanted Mr. Eby to publicly ask Mr. Trudeau not to implement the April 1 carbon tax increase.
Chris Tomlinson is a freelance contributor to The Epoch Times.