Feds approve $100 million subsidy to phase out natural gas heaters in B.C.

Environment and Climate Change Canada said it would pay British Columbians upwards of $24,000 to ‘switch their home heating systems from oil, propane or natural gas.’

Feds approve $100 million subsidy to phase out natural gas heaters in B.C.
The Canadian Press / Sean Kilpatrick
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The Trudeau Liberals approved $103.7 million in subsidies Monday to phase out natural gas furnaces in British Columbia. 

Environment and Climate Change Canada said in a statement it would pay British Columbians to “switch their home heating systems from oil, propane or natural gas.” Terms of the grant program were not detailed.

Residents can access up to $24,000 in rebates under the “Clean B.C. Better Homes” program, reported Blacklock’s Reporter

“Once you make the switch to get off oil and gas you can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year on home energy bills,” Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault told reporters. He clarified the subsidy can also go towards energy efficient windows and doors.

However, most Canadians heat their homes with natural gas. In Saskatchewan for example, 80% of households use natural gas to keep warm. Just 3% of homesteads that use heating oil residing in the Prairies. 

Last October 1, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau permitted a three-year bar on annual carbon tax collections for home heating oil. “We can give everyone the time and ability to switch to [electric] heat pumps,” he told reporters.

The programs benefiting Atlantic and B.C. homeowners coincides with annual carbon tax hikes each April 1. The tax is currently worth 15¢ per cubic metre of natural gas and 25¢ per litre of heating oil. 

A Conservative motion to expand the carbon tax reprieve was defeated last November 6 by Liberal and Bloc Québécois MPs. Trudeau refused further carve-outs at a later press conference.

Tory Leader Pierre Poilievre accused the prime minister of “regional favouritism” amid sluggish poll numbers in the region. The program mainly benefits the Maritimes, where 24 Liberal MPs face re-election next year. 

Only 80 households in the region have received $15,000 subsidies to phase out their oil furnaces for electric pumps. Some 286,000 residents use home heating oil, by official estimate.

The Trudeau Liberals introduced the grant last February 28. Of 1,241 applicants, 361 were denied.

They will “save thousands of dollars annually on heating bills and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” reads an inquiry of ministry.

Subsidies in B.C. and Atlantic Canada follow a Saskatchewan carbon tax strike against charges on natural gas home heating. “We don’t need to accept this,” Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe testified last May 27 at the Commons government operations committee.

He considered the tax relief selective in its application and politically motivated to boost Liberal support in Atlantic Canada. In response, the province refused to collect tax revenues on home heating earlier this year.

"We’re just asking for fairness," Crown Investments Minister Dustin Duncan earlier told reporters.

Last October 29, Liberal MP Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development, said any other Canadians who wanted to avoid carbon charges should vote Liberal.

“Atlantic caucus was vocal with what they’ve heard from their constituents and perhaps they need to elect more Liberals in the Prairies so we can have that conversation,” she told CTV's Question Period. 

Liberal MPs currently hold 15 of 42 seats in British Columbia, the largest representation in the federal government caucus of any Western province.

Last March, Victoria city council debated banning gas ovens and heating for rezoned developments after several councillors proposed removing natural gas alternatives.

As of 2025, Victoria will no longer permit the construction of housing heated by natural gas after implementing a gas prohibition for new homes in August 2022. The coastal city currently has 93 rezoning applications for new residential builds near its harbour.

Last May 30, Vancouver city council discarded a proposal to ban natural gas in new residential builds. 

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