B.C. homeowner ‘blindsided’ by early shutdown of Canada Greener Homes Grant

Click to play video: 'Consumer Matters: Bureaucratic nightmare causes Maple Ridge woman to lose out on Greener Homes grant'
Consumer Matters: Bureaucratic nightmare causes Maple Ridge woman to lose out on Greener Homes grant
WATCH: The idea of getting $5,000 back on a new heating system was too much to resist for one Maple Ridge homeowner. But the reality of getting the grant money has left her high and dry. Anne Drewa explains – Feb 29, 2024

A B.C. resident says she was “frozen out” of the application process when she applied for the Canada Greener Homes Grant. The federal program is intended to help homeowners make energy-efficient upgrades to their homes.

“It was a horrible nightmare and I can’t imagine how many people are stuck,” Debbie Ewart told Consumer Matters.

The Maple Ridge resident’s frustration began in January when her 25-year-old furnace broke down. Ewart planned to replace the furnace and add a heat pump. She says it was a decision based on receiving the federal grant where homeowners can receive up to $5,000.

Earlier this year, it was reported the Canada Greener Homes Grant program would end in March 2024.

However, on Feb. 5, Natural Resources Canada announced it would stop accepting new applications within the next two weeks to prepare for the next phase of Greener Homes.

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Ewart says that didn’t leave her with much time to apply. Before applying, Ewart had to get a mandatory EnerGuide audit to assess her home’s energy performance for $600.

Once she received that report, Ewart said the deadline was now Feb. 19.

“I thought ok the deadline is shorter, we better get on it to make sure we get this grant applied for,” she said.

Click to play video: 'Canada Greener Homes Grant called confusing and unfair'
Canada Greener Homes Grant called confusing and unfair

However, Ewart says applying for the grant was complicated to navigate.

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“I was looking for all kinds of answers wherever I could. I was calling people. I had a panicked feeling about the whole process,” said Ewart. “I called Service Canada many times, but they were unable to help me with the grant.”

Ewart’s application process got even worse when the deadline moved to Feb. 12.

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She says she was left scrambling.

“My application was on the go and I was waiting for a code to come in the mail for five to 10 business days. Like how can I get that in two days from Friday to Monday,” said Ewart.

On the final day to apply, Ewart says she waited two and a half hours on the Government helpline only to be eventually told the deadline had passed.

“I was very angry. I was very upset. I thought how many people have been trying to get through,” said Ewart.

Click to play video: 'Trudeau announces $10M commitment to train new energy advisors for launch of Greener Homes Grant'
Trudeau announces $10M commitment to train new energy advisors for launch of Greener Homes Grant

Owner Ryan Cocking of Ryan Heating and Air Conditioning was helping Ewart with the application process and said he heard of other applicants having difficulties with applying for the federal grant.

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“My wife had problems as well. It seems like if you make a small mistake it becomes very cumbersome to work through the system,” said Cocking.

The federal government has announced it will establish a new phase of the Canada Greener Homes initiative promising supports that are more accessible to Canadian households with low to median incomes, but details beyond that are scarce.

NDP MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley Taylor Bachrach said the Canada Greener Homes Grant program’s early shutdown is unfortunate for many Canadians.

“Essentially the program has run out of money and the government didn’t have a plan for a seamless transition between the old program and this new program that they promised,” said Bachrach. “The minister has not announced what the new program will look like. He’s promised it’s going to address the shortcomings of the old program, but right now we are in this very uncertain period.”

Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson was unavailable for comment. The ministry wouldn’t comment on Ewart’s case and stated in an email to Consumer Matters:

“We cannot speak to individual cases due to privacy reasons.

“We can confirm that Canadians who had active applications in the national Greener Homes Grant portal prior to Feb. 12, 2024, at 5 p.m. EST can continue to proceed with their retrofits and will continue to have access to and be eligible for funding support through the Canada Greener Homes Grant.”

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Still, Ewart says she’s out of luck.

“I just feel totally blindsided.”

However, Ryan Cocking has told Consumer Matters his company will help out Ewart and cover the difference for the $4,000 she lost in potential federal grant money

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