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  • Writer's pictureThe Low Down

Backlog failing provincial rebate program

The Editor,

An open letter to Greg Fergus, Sophie Chatel, Steve MacKinnon, Stéphane Lauzon

Good day to the MPs of the Outaouais region,

Today I am writing to you regarding the Programme Rénoclimat. This program is supposed to provide both federal and provincial rebates for energy-saving home renovations. The rebates are to support homeowners in making environmentally responsible choices as well as to bolster the economy for trades workers and constituents alike.

Unlike other provinces, Quebec has decided to have the same organization manage both federal and provincial programs under one umbrella. While I appreciate that the province of Quebec is using the same agency to administer both programs for the sake of efficiency, I must inform you the opposite of efficiency has been achieved.

Wait times are tremendous. I have been waiting two-and-a-half months to even be given an appointment date for an auditor to assess the property — only to be informed that I won't be called to schedule said appointment until December at the earliest. That's at least a six-month wait just to get a date for the audit, with an average of four to eight weeks additional for the audit to be completed. That's seven to eight months total wait [time] to access provincial and federal programming.

This wait time is preventing me from receiving either of the rebates I am qualified for, and I cannot wait to complete some of my renovations, in particular the roof, windows, and doors — the lion’s share of the rebate qualifiers, not to mention the greatest areas of heat loss in a home leading into winter.

Given work cannot be done until the first audit appointment is completed, your constituents are forced to choose between giving up significant rebates to which they are entitled or hold off on completing renovations that support the need to take care of our ailing environment.

A similar issue occurred in Ontario in the past five years. Ontario residents could achieve a $5,000 rebate with the upgrade of their HVAC and additional energy-saving measures. The backlog of participants grew and the rebate program was failing. The main auditing group for the province appealed to the government to revise the rules to help manage the backlog. The revision was simple: the homeowner was to take “before” pictures and keep receipts of work completed. The auditing company made clear the rules of the images (date range, timestamp, quality, and quantity of images, etc.) and then were able to use those images to calculate the percentage of energy savings achieved on the final audit — and the rebates were issued.

I am contacting you today to ... advocate for such measures to be taken in Quebec or any other remedy you and your office can come up with. To have a provincial backlog prevent access to federal programming or vice versa is unacceptable and is forcing financial losses on your constituents. The Liberal party wishes to help make our country greener, but has allowed/forced the local level to bog down the initiative past a point of reasonability. Having witnessed Ontario correct the backlog in the past, I am confident Quebec can do the same.

Erin Fenn

Hull, QC

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