The new federal budget (2019-2020) was unveiled by Minister of Finance Bill Morneau in Parliament on March 19. The 2019 federal budget was one of the most talked-about topics in Canada (and the #Budget2019 hashtag was all over the place on the internet). Yet the big question is still in everyone’s mind: What does Budget 2019 mean to me?
The answer to that question can be quite long (the original federal budget document is 464 pages long, after all) — but don’t worry, we’ve listed some of the ways the new budget can affect your energy bills in the years ahead. The 2019 budget is called “Investing in the Middle Class” and seems to have a strong focus on the middle class’ current financial struggles, which includes the anxiety related to high electricity and natural gas costs at home.
From rebates to affordable electricity programs, see how the 2019 federal budget will impact the average electricity bill in Canada for the months — and years — ahead.
Lower energy bills
Energy efficiency is still one of the best ways of fighting high energy rates, and the government seems to know that. Budget 2019 proposes to invest more than $1 billion in energy efficiency for residential, commercial and multi-unit buildings. The funds will be used in small urban and rural communities as well as in Canada’s largest cities.
Affordable and clean electricity is still a worldwide challenge, but it can be even harder for small communities due to many infrastructure issues. That’s why the new budget includes investments in planning efforts to advance clean energy projects, including a hydroelectricity expansion project in the Northwest Territories. In the short run, however, most small communities probably won’t see major changes in their bills as projects still are being planned.
Climate action and affordability
The Community EcoEfficiency Acceleration program will invest $300 million in home energy efficiency support. The main idea behind the program will be providing homeowners with energy-efficient upgrades, including assistance in replacing furnaces and installing renewable energy technologies. Such renovations have the potential to reduce both your utility bills and your home’s carbon footprint. People will be able to repay retrofit costs via property tax bills.
Large community buildings
The federal budget proposes a program called Collaboration on Community Climate action, which would invest $350 million in the energy efficiency of large community buildings and other community pilot projects focused on reducing GHG emissions.
Sustainable and affordable housing
One of the highlights from the Budget 2019 was the announcement of large investments in housing affordability. However, most people don’t know that a considerable amount of these investments ($300 million) will be destined for sustainable housing, including energy-efficient improvements for both new and existing houses and support for on-site energy generation.
Incentives for zero-emission vehicles
The new federal budget brings some good news for electric car enthusiasts. The government proposes specific actions to make zero-emission vehicles cheaper, including electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars.
The federal government will invest $300 million over the next three years, in incentives of up to $5,000 for electric battery or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles with a suggested price of less than $45,000.
In order to incentivize people to purchase zero-emission vehicles, the government will also invest $130 million over five years in the expansion of the network of charging and refuelling stations for zero-emission vehicles.
Other renewable energy projects
Tidal energy in Nova Scotia: $29.8 million are being destined for the Halagonia marine renewable energy project in Nova Scotia, which will provide clean electricity to the province and reduce pollution from power generation.
Arctic Energy Fund: Around $400 million will be invested in the Arctic Energy Fund, which helps people living in northern communities access more renewable energy.
What does all of that mean to my electricity and natural gas bills?
Most of the energy-related changes brought with the Budget 2019 are going to be perceived in the long run. It’s still quite difficult to predict to what extent Canadians will be positively impacted by such programs, or how many people will be able to cut their energy costs at home in the months ahead.
These announcements aren’t directly related to the price of energy rates — and might not represent the immediate relief from high energy bills you were expecting, especially from a budget that proposes to reduce the anxiety that comes from high electricity costs.
Still, thinking in the long term might help you see the bigger picture. Most energy efficiency actions at home can bring relatively quick results to your energy bills and, of course, your finances. Depending on the energy-efficient upgrades at home, you could see your bills reduced by half. That’s why it’s worth researching more on how to get energy-efficient incentives from the government this year.