The government of Ontario released its Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) this week which outlines the province’s approach to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fighting climate change for the next four years. The Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) and the Canadian Environmental Association (CELA) are pleased that the CCAP includes actions that would support low-income households and vulnerable communities during Ontario’s transition to a low-carbon economy.
CELA and LIEN are looking forward to engaging with the province as the important work is undertaken to design and implement these programs. There are several areas of greatest interest to low-income and rural communities.
Actions to assist low-income households and vulnerable communities
The CCAP has placed significant weight on the interests of low-income households and vulnerable communities by addressing their interests at the forefront of the CCAP. The province will:
- Build on current initiatives like the Ontario Energy Support Program (OESP) and Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) and, Social housing retrofits.
- Offer rebates to low and moderate-income households to help replace their older cars with new or used electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles.
- Implement targeted programs for households in northern and rural communities that will be available to help reduce their home heating and cooling costs.
The province proposes to establish a green bank that will provide households with assistance to secure flexible low-interest financing to help pay for GHG-reducing energy improvements in their homes. This action will include special provisions to support low and modest-income households.
Increase the use of electric vehicles
Replace older vehicles
The province intends to offer a rebate to low and moderate-income households that will help remove older and less fuel-efficient vehicles from the road by replacing them with new or used electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles.
- $10,000,000 to $20,000,000 is allocated from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account (GGRA) for this action with implementation slated to commence in 2017/2018.
Support cycling and walking
Improve commuter cycling network
The province proposes to improve and implement the Ontario’s Cycling Strategy and Action Plan on an accelerated timeline. The government will promote cycling by:
- establishing commuter cycling networks across Ontario,
- increasing cycling facilities in urban areas,
- including grade-separated routes and cycling signals,
- increasing bike parking, and
- revising provincial standards to require consideration of commuter cycling infrastructure for all road and highway construction projects.
$150,000,000 to $225,000,000 is allocated from the GGRA for this action. Implementation will take place on an ongoing basis.
Buildings and Homes
Improve energy efficiency in residential buildings
Retrofit social housing apartments
The province intends to support the installation of energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies such as energy-efficient windows for social housing. In addition to reducing emissions, these retrofits will improve comfort for residents and save money for social housing providers to make other improvements. Social housing for First Nations and Métis will also be eligible for retrofits under this program.
- $380,000,000 to $500,000,000 has been allocated from the GGRA to implement the social housing retrofits commencing in 2017/2018 and $300,000,000 to $400,000,000 has been allocated for apartment building retrofits beginning in 2017.
Protecting tenants from the price of carbon
Ontario will also consider options to make sure that carbon pricing does not get passed on to tenants who are unable to make changes to reduce energy use, and private owners of buildings can take advantage of retrofit programs. There is no specific mention in the CCAP of whether low and moderate-income individuals and families who rent in other types of accommodation will also receive this protection.
Help Homeowners Reduce their Carbon Footprints
Boost Low-carbon Technology in Homes
Ontario intends to help homeowners purchase and install low-carbon energy technologies such as geothermal heat pumps and air-source heat pumps that reduce reliance on fossil fuels. This action includes an increased benefit for low-income households and vulnerable communities.
- $500,000,000 to $600,000,000 from the GGRA is allocated for this action commencing in 2017/2018.
Help Retire Older Wood Stoves
The province will establish a new program targeting northern and rural communities, including Indigenous communities, to encourage households to switch out older polluting wood stoves for new high-efficiency wood stoves.
- $1,000,000 to $4,000,000 from the GGRA is allocated for this action that commences in 2017/2018.
Keep Electricity Rates Affordable
The government of Ontario intends to use cap and trade proceeds to offset the cost of GHG reduction initiatives that are currently funded by residential and industrial consumers through their bills.
- $1,000,000,000 to $1,320,000,000 has been allocated from the GGRA for this action that commences in 2017.
Collaboration with Indigenous communities
Ontario will work with First Nations and the federal government to connect remote communities to the provincial electricity grid, thereby reducing GHG pollution by moving communities from diesel generators to low-carbon electricity. Where community support exists, Ontario will work with First Nation organisations to develop advanced microgrid solutions. The province will also establish a fund for community GHG reduction projects and community energy and climate action planning in First Nation communities.
- $85,000,000 to $96,000,000 is set aside from the GGRA for this action. This initiative commences in 2017/2018.