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Home-energy retrofit program suddenly ends

An Ontario homeowner shows off his energy-efficient heating system in September of 2008.

Glenn Lowson

The popular ecoENERGY Retrofit program that provides grants of up to $5,000 to Canadians who make their homes more energy efficient has come to an abrupt end.

Homeowners who had already booked an appointment for a pre-retrofit evaluation before the Natural Resources Department announced the program's demise Wednesday remain eligible to apply for a grant. But no further bookings will be considered.

"The remaining $300-million for homeowners currently in the program will continue to support our home renovation industry and deliver both economic and environmental benefits from coast to coast to coast," Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis said in an e-mail.

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"We have a responsibility to taxpayers to ensure the program operates within its existing budget and no longer accepting new bookings for pre-retrofit evaluations is the kind of prudent fiscal management Canadians have come to expect from this government."

But if you haven't got your energy audit done, you are out of luck. There is no rebate for you. It's a completely arbitrary date. We have never heard this date before. Liberal MP David McGuinty

The federal budget released on March 4 promoted the program. "Due to unprecedented demand under the ecoENERGY Retrofit - Homes program, the government is allocating a further $80-million to support additional retrofits by Canadian homeowners," the budget documents said.

The program, which is conducted in co-operation with the provinces, stipulated that a post-retrofit audit had to be completed by March 31, 2011. But, until Wednesday, there was no deadline for the initial application.

"They are saying they are not killing it since it still technically goes until March, 2011," Liberal MP David McGuinty said Wednesday. "But if you haven't got your energy audit done, you are out of luck. There is not rebate for you. It's a completely arbitrary date. We have never heard this date before."

His Liberal colleague Geoff Regan, the Natural Resources critic, said the loss of the program is going to be a huge disappointment to a lot of Canadians who were planning on making their homes more energy efficient this spring or summer.

"It is strange for the government to include $80-million in the budget and then a few weeks later kill the program," Mr. Regan said.

"This will also have a ripple effect across the economy. … I suspect this is one of the consequences of having a government which has run up a record $56-billion deficit last year and more massive deficits in the next few years. It's too bad that homeowners will be the ones to suffer."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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