< Browse more articles

As reported earlier, on November 30th, Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland tabled the Fall Economic Statement entitled Supporting Canadians and Fighting COVID-19, a spending plan that looks to support Canadians during the continued COVID-19 pandemic and support Canada’s economic recovery.  The plan includes several measures that will affect the HVAC sector, most notably a commitment to support home energy retrofits (as proposed by HRAI) though details remain to be communicated.

The following was included in the Fall Economic Statement as it relates to HRAI members:

  • The government proposes to provide $2.6 billion over 7 years, starting in 2020-21, to Natural Resources Canada to help homeowners improve their home energy efficiency by providing up to 700,000 grants of up to $5,000 to help homeowners make energy-efficient improvements to their homes, up to one million free EnerGuide energy assessments, and support to recruit and train EnerGuide energy auditors to meet increased demand. Additional information on home energy efficiency grants will be provided in a future announcement, and eligibility for these grants will be retroactive to December 1, 2020.
  • The government also recognizes that homeowners and landlords need to be able to access simple and affordable financing to make deeper home energy retrofits. Over the coming months the government will outline details of a low-cost loan program that integrates and builds on available energy audits and grants, and which can be easily accessed by Canadians.
  • To further bolster training supports for those hardest hit by the pandemic, including marginalized and racialized women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities and recent newcomers to Canada, the government proposes to invest an additional $274.2 million over 2 years, starting in 2021-22. This funding will support the Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program, the Foreign Credential Recognition Program, the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities, and the Women’s Employment Readiness Canada pilot project.
  • Building on investments made through the COVID-19 Resilience Stream under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program and the Safe Return to Class Fund, the government proposes to provide $150 million over three years, starting in 2020-21, to Infrastructure Canada to improve ventilation in public buildings and help reduce the spread of COVID-19. This will help provincial, territorial, municipal and local governments and Indigenous communities fund projects that increase air quality and circulation, such as upgrades or conversions of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. More details on this measure will be announced in the coming months.

While HRAI members have responded positively to most of these announcements, this has been at a high level only.  In the absence of important details, it remains difficult to assess how these measures will affect the HVACR industry.

With regard to the home energy retrofit commitment, HRAI has been in contact with NRCan to learn more about program details.  NRCan readily acknowledged that details are still being worked on and added that HRAI will be given an opportunity to comment, specifically on industry capacity to provide certain kinds of equipment.  These discussions will take place before the end of 2020.

Concerning the government’s proposed investment in skills development, HRAI supports the position taken by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC):

Strengthening workforce capacity for retrofits and new low-carbon construction must be central to the government's plan that places climate action at the heart of creating one million jobs. The $1.3B investment in jobs and training for vulnerable populations presents an opportunity for developing an inclusive, skilled workforce and reaching our climate targets.

As details of the government plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 emerge, we strongly encourage complementary low-carbon training and skills supports to enable the building industry to deliver on this ambitious commitment.

HRAI remains determined to engage with the relevant federal ministries on these important questions and will communicate details of programs and support policies as they emerge.

For more information, contact Martin Luymes at 416-453-5899 or email mluymes@hrai.ca.