While last week’s federal budget cemented a significant increase in government support for energy efficiency, the “nitty-gritty details of implementation” have yet to be filled in and more funding will be needed to deliver the scale of building retrofit activity the country needs, Efficiency Canada Policy Director Brendan Haley argues in a follow-up analysis.
“As we focus on implementation details, we also need to recognize that reaching net-zero emissions will require public and private investments in the hundreds of billions,” Haley writes on the Efficiency Canada blog. “We need a never-before-seen acceleration of energy efficiency performance and ensuring high-performance becomes the norm at every opportunity.”
And “now that the federal government has introduced some of the standard policy tools—such as grants, loans, and training—we need to turn our minds quickly to transform how we deliver large-scale building retrofits and other efficiency programs,” he adds. “This will need to bring more of an innovation policy lens to areas such as building retrofits: considering how to reshape markets, create new professional designations, and introduce new business models.”
Haley runs through the energy efficiency gains in the budget tabled last Monday by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland: C$4.4 billion in building retrofits over the next five years, and $40,000 interest-free loans for homeowners and landowners, on top of $5,000 homeowner tax credits the government had previously announced. The program includes a dedicated funding stream for low-income households, and the budget also lays out $2.4 billion for workforce development, $2.5 billion to build new affordable housing that exceeds building code requirements for energy efficiency, and a $5-billion green bond issue.
And Haley leads off his post by acknowledging the centrepiece of Freeland’s plan: “The signature item is national child care, a policy that should enable more women, who shoulder the majority of child care burdens in Canada, to enter or re-enter the energy efficiency workforce.” Last May, Efficiency Canada drew attention to the small proportion of energy efficiency jobs held by women and argued that energy efficiency skills training could help combat women’s job losses in the COVID-19 “she-cession”.