MISSISSAUGA, Ontario - The Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) announced that its efforts, combined with those of other related associations such as the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) and the Siding and Window Dealers Association of Canada (SAWDAC), appear to have influenced a Canadian federal government decision to reinstate the ecoENERGY for Homes retrofit program, reversing a decision made a year ago to terminate the program on April 1, 2011.

The federal budget, introduced in March, included a $400 million commitment to extend funding for the program by another year. Though the budget was defeated, forcing a spring election campaign, the reinstatement of the ecoENERGY program has emerged as a central element in the campaigns of the Conservative, Liberal, and NDP parties.

According to HRAI, it now appears the federal parties are almost competing to show who can come up with the best version of the program. HRAI provided the following descriptions of each party’s plan:

• The federal Conservatives are promising $400 million in funding, but only for one year (for now). However, because participation levels even at the peak of the program were around 200,000 homes per year, it is expected that only about two-thirds of this commitment would be spent.

• The Liberals are proposing a program that would pay 15 percent of the actual costs of energy-efficient home renovations (including new equipment) up to a total of $13,500 per household, i.e., a maximum of $2,025 in grants, compared to a $5,000 limit under the Tory plan. The average claim under the old program was $1,300. The Liberals also propose to pay half the cost of the home energy evaluation. The Liberals are proposing to spend $2 billion over five years.

• The NDP are less detailed in their proposed approach, promising only to “introduce a permanent Eco-energy retrofit program to cut home heating bills, reduce greenhouse gases and create jobs,” while at the same time introducing a home heating federal sales tax rebate.

HRAI continued, “It appears likely then, that some form of ecoENERGY program will be re-introduced this year, though how soon after the election is concluded is anyone’s guess.”

HRAI supported a concerted PR effort (“Save ecoENERGY”) spearheaded by Building Insight Technologies, Vancouver, B.C. The campaign was also supported by the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA-Canada), the Siding and Window Dealers Association of Canada (SAWDAC) and Green Communities. The campaign generated a great deal of media interest in the build-up to the budget and election announcements. Much of this media attention has been documented on the website saveecoenergy.ca.

HRAI will continue to partner with other groups to influence key federal and provincial decision-makers. A brief is being developed that will be presented to the new government in May with some recommendations for how to proceed with this important program.

For more information, contact Martin Luymes at 800-267-2231 ext. 235 or e-mail mluymes@hrai.ca.

Publication date:04/18/2011