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CEEA’s Efficiency Matters Blog

How energy efficiency fits into pre-budget consultations

The economy and climate change are top of mind in Ottawa, and so should energy efficiency

Climate Change Feb

The new government wants solutions that will combat climate change and stimulate the economy.

Since the October election things appear to be changing significantly in Ottawa. Given the COP21 meetings in November and December, plus the regular pressures of the annual budget in March, it seems that solution-based proposals related to climate change that will also stimulate economic activity anywhere in Canada will be a focus in 2016. In addition, each minister does have climate change in their mandate letters — including the Minister of National Revenue and the Minister of Finance.  Therefore the CEEA mantra in all exchanges with government is that energy efficiency is a key to solving climate change challenges.

CEEA’s energy efficiency tax ask gains attention in Ottawa

There are two things that also need to be considered at this point: there is really no more new money, although this government seems prepared to run a deficit for a period of time, the size of that deficit will be the issue; and the emphasis on inter-departmental cooperation is positive (i.e. NRCan and Environment and Climate Change will be working together), but setting up new, effective inter-departmental points of contact will take time.

As the pre-budget departmental activity began in earnest in early January, CEEA received several requests for more information on our tax ask related to tax deductibility for building retrofits and on other issues related to low carbon infrastructure proposals.   In terms of our tax proposal, CEEA is asking the government to clarify existing rules which would provide certainty in the administration of the repairs and maintenance deductibility rules in the Income Tax Act. We believe the move would expand energy conservation and productivity in Canada’s building stock.  The appeal of such initiatives is their ability to address climate mitigation and improve economic activity.  A letter along with our tax brief was sent to Natural Resources Minister Carr, Finance Minister Morneau, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and Dr. Carolyn Bennett Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development. We reminded the government of the critical role of the Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE) at Natural Resources Canada and have asked that it be renewed. We have suggested that like the U.S. government that our government lead by example – which can be achieved through greater emphasis on the Federal Buildings Initiative (FBI) and more public reporting by departments.  The documents can be found on our website.

Start engaging with local MPs about energy efficiency

I met with Minister McKenna who is quite interested in energy efficiency and its role in climate mitigation.  Minister McKenna held pre-budget consultations in her Ottawa Centre riding, along with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance Francois-Phillipe Champagne on February 1st. CEEA attended represented by myself and a local member of CEEA – Chris Pulfer from Prosperity Group – we  both live and work in Ottawa Centre.  This is a government that embraces consultation. While these meetings are local in nature, they provide an opportunity to take the message of energy efficiency directly to local MPs.

There is no question that we at CEEA are very optimistic with the opportunity presented by this new government. Lobby efforts will become easier once political offices are fully staffed. I believe that the major question for new programs and new approaches is one of when, and not if –  budget 2016 may be too soon for the commitments we all want to see  given the of government is so new, but I am convinced that by budget 2017 this will be a reality.

We expect to get our Policy Committee to meet again to generate new ideas and new strategies given the interest of this new government. CEEA must effectively take advantage of the interest shown by the new government throughout 2016. We are only as good as our members so we ask two things of you:
•    Reach out to your local Members of Parliament – regardless of party. They need to know what you do so they understand that energy efficiency makes an environmental and economic difference in their riding.  Local consultations are important; they are part of democratic engagement – your MP needs to know what matters to you;
•    Mark down these dates for fall 2016  – we are planning to have our annual Hill Day plus Doing Business in Ottawa event on November 22-23. This year will include meetings with both senior bureaucrats and politicians. We need you to make the energy-efficiency voice strong.

Posted February 3, 2016

McDonald Interior Colour 2014

Elizabeth McDonald is president of CEEA