Feds look to subsidize B.C. heat pumps amid carbon tax freeze controversy

Click to play video: 'Federal government looking to subsidize B.C. heat pumps'
Federal government looking to subsidize B.C. heat pumps
The federal government is now looking to make heat pumps free to British Columbians wanting to transition from home heating oil. Legislative bureau chief Keith Baldrey has more on why the major reversal. – Nov 3, 2023

Just days after saying there would be no more carbon tax ‘carve outs’ for home heating, the federal natural resources minister says relief is on the way for British Columbians.

On Tuesday, both Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were adamant that the home heating oil tax break program announced last week would not be expanded.

Click to play video: 'Political battle heats up over home heating'
Political battle heats up over home heating

But after days of growing political pressure from the opposition and premiers, Wilkinson said Friday that Ottawa is going to sweeten the pot for British Columbians who still rely on home heating oil to make the switch to electric heat pumps.

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“What we have done is asked provinces to partner with us and make heat pumps free, both the pumps and the installation,” came Wilkinson’ surprise announcement, as part of a response to a Global News question at a Vancouver media event.

“We will be looking to put a co-delivering program and it’s important you get support no matter where you live.”

Details of what the plan might look like remain unknown.

The B.C. government has been publicly demanding support from Ottawa for more than a week, after Trudeau announced Ottawa would freeze the federal carbon tax on home heating oil, starting in the Atlantic provinces.

That freeze would not apply to B.C., which has its own carbon tax.

“We have lots of work to do with them and we are going to be the next pilot site,” B.C. Premier David Eby said Friday.

Opposition BC United Leader Kevin Falcon was critical of the federal government’s about face, saying a free future heat pump will do little for people having trouble making ends meet today.

Click to play video: 'Trudeau says ‘absolutely not’ to more carbon tax exemptions'
Trudeau says ‘absolutely not’ to more carbon tax exemptions

“I have met with seniors who are really struggling right now to get food on their table, they need help now, they don’t need a $20,000 heat pump,” he told Global News.

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B.C.’s NDP government has so far rejected the idea of waiving the carbon tax on fossil fuel home heating, even though the federal NDP and provincial NDP in Alberta and Saskatchewan have called for it.

“We have become the most expensive place in North America,” Falcon said.

“So when the prime minister provides relief in the Atlantic provinces, the fundamental fairness model should exist and provide relief everywhere.”

There are about 40,000 heating oil customers in B.C., and nearly a million using natural gas home heating.

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