July 20, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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Canada Greener Homes Grant | Still waiting several months to receive your check

Canada Greener Homes Grant |  Still waiting several months to receive your check

Four months after the premature end of the program was announced, Quebec applicants for the Canada Greener Homes grant still have to wait patiently to receive their check from the federal government. Although deadlines have improved, Natural Resources Canada assures hundreds of thousands of applications remain to be reviewed and approved.

What is there to know?

Almost half a million Canadians have applied for funding under the Canada Greener Homes Grant.

Since launching the program in 2021, Natural Resources Canada has often been criticized for taking too long to process files.

A request for authorization of the class action was filed in federal court last February.

Justine Proust and her partner installed a heat pump and insulated their attic in late 2022.

A year earlier, the federal government launched with great fanfare a $2.6 billion program over seven years to encourage homeowners to improve the energy performance of their homes. Up to $5,000 was awarded per person to insulate the building, replace doors and windows, and install solar panels or a heat pump. With the success of the move, Ottawa announced last February that no new requests would be added to the 500,000 already received.

At that time, Justin Proust was still waiting to receive the grant. After 16 months of sending the requested documents, the check finally arrives in May. During this time, she made several calls and emails to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) customer service. “I was told: 'We don't have access to your file, I can only add a note to say you are waiting.' We have no follow-up, we don't know how much we will receive or when,” she denied.

Photo by Marika Vachon, The Press

Justin Proust had trouble with Natural Resources Canada getting his check for the Canada Greener Homes grant.

In times of inflation, it's difficult for some people to carry expenses forward. Fortunately, we took a loan [le Prêt canadien pour des maisons plus vertes permet l’emprunt d’une somme allant jusqu’à 40 000 $ sans intérêts]. Otherwise there would have been trouble.

Justin Proust

Last April, after several reminders, he was informed that there was no consent form to sign in his file, which would be emailed to him. She qualifies: She never received this email. An experience similar to that of many employers, noted lawyer Pierre-Luc Melancon.

Collective action in the making

Affected by these long processing times, which led him to initiate legal action to receive his $5,000 grant, a Lewis attorney filed a request for authorization of a class action on behalf of the three plaintiffs in federal court last February. Last year, calls to his office skyrocketed after a Radio-Canada story aired his story.

“It wasn't my initial intention to make it a collective action, but I got a lot of calls and I haven't stopped receiving them since February 2023,” he said, inviting people who could be targeted by the action not to contact the office until the court rules on the request.

Grant applicants who experience “unreasonable delays in processing their file” can claim compensatory and compensatory and punitive damages along with interest, i.e. 70 business days (40 days to process file and 30 days to issue check, service standard announced by NRCan).

Longer deadlines for Quebec

Criticized for its slowness since the program's inception, NRCan has claimed to accelerate the disbursement of grants in June 2022. The most recent data provided is from 2023-2024 Press 93% of requests received through the national portal were processed within the time frame stipulated in the service standard.

In Quebec, every request must go through the provincial Renoclimate program, which adds to the wait. Although Rénoclimat said it was able to pay the subsidy share within 11 weeks for 67% of the files in 2023, the files were only sent to its federal partner at the end of this period, which it was unable to do. Please provide us with accurate data on its processing times for requests from Quebec.

Natural Resources Canada spokeswoman Robin Librach said the evaluation of the file will be completed “within 40 days or less, once the file is received by NRCan.”

At the Environment Ministry, the fight against climate change, wildlife and parks of Quebec (MELCCFP), which is responsible for the Renoclimate program, however, too many delays have been reported. “Since inception, we've known Natural Resources Canada's processing times to be about 39 weeks,” said MELCCFP spokesperson Frédéric Fournier.

“The 40-day period may be longer if Rénoclimat data is not sent on time or contains errors or omissions,” Natural Resources Canada spokeswoman Shireen Ali responded.

In various Facebook groups, many employers complained of delays ranging from eight months to a year.

Diane Jalbert has been waiting since January for a refund check for a substantial portion of the $7,500 she paid for the heat pump installation. “I received $1,100 from the provincial, but I'm still waiting for the federal check,” she said in an interview. I'm trying to find out where my file is, but Renoclimate and Natural Resources Canada are throwing the ball around. In the meantime, you should have the means to pay. »

“Encouraging people to work and install heat pumps is a good thing, but to what extent has this program increased cynicism towards government initiatives? », asked Pierre-Luc Melancon.

Green Subsidies: How to Navigate Them?

Although the Canada Greener Homes Grant is no longer accepting new applications, the Canada Greener Homes Loan and the Affordable Oil to Heat Pump Conversion Program remain open.

In Quebec, Renoclimate and Chaufez Vert have subsidies for heating and works related to the energy efficiency of buildings. Homeowners looking to install a heat pump can turn to Hydro-Québec's Logisvert program, which offers subsidies of up to $6,700.

“Hydro-Québec pays your supplier directly. It is very innovative. We don't have to wait for a subsidy,” emphasizes Emmanuel Cosgrove, co-founder of Écohabitation.

Learn more

  • 240,000
    Number of households receiving funding for renovations under the Canada Greener Homes Grant (as of June 3, 2024)

    Source: Natural Resources Canada

    40 days
    93% of requests received through the national portal were processed within 40 days in 2023-2024

    Source: Natural Resources Canada

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