That, given that,
(i) 2023 saw a record fire season due to climate change, in which the area burned was double that of the historic record, and hundreds of thousands of Canadians were evacuated from their homes,
(ii) Canadians continue to struggle with dramatic increases to the cost of living while Canada’s biggest corporations, including oil and gas corporations, post record profits,
(iii) federal government programs aimed at supporting energy efficient retrofits such as heat pumps are hard to access, especially for low-income Canadians,
(iv) effective climate action must also address the very real affordability concerns of ordinary Canadians,
the House call on the government to:
(a) remove the GST from all forms of home heating;
(b) make eco-energy retrofits and heat pumps free and easy to access for low-income and middle-class Canadians, regardless of their initial home heating energy source; and
(c) finance these changes by putting in place a tax on the excess profits of big oil and gas corporations.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my good friend, the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
Canadians right across this country are struggling with the cost of living, including food, housing and home heating. In every province and territory, Canadians also want to see action on climate change. It is the challenge of our time, an existential challenge that affects all of us, our kids and future generations.
It is not only that we can address these two urgent issues of affordability and the climate crisis at the same time, it is that we must address these emergencies at the same time. That is why New Democrats brought forward this motion today.
The motion would do three things. The first is that it would remove the GST from all forms of home heating. The GST, after all, is a Conservative tax that was brought in by a former Conservative government and is being applied to something that, as we have heard many times in this place, is an essential.
The Liberals surprised everyone with their nakedly political decision last week to give some people a break in some parts of Canada where Liberals seem to be facing tough polls. Unlike that decision, this motion would give a break to everyone in every province and territory, for all forms of home heating. This is a pretty simple policy proposal. It is one that the NDP has put forward again and again, going back to the time of the late Jack Layton.
The other thing this motion would do is make it easier for Canadians to choose clean forms of home heating that save them money on their heating bills, especially heat pumps, which, right now, are transforming the home heating of millions of people around the world. We have seen double-digit increases in the number of people using heat pumps to heat their homes; here in Canada, we have a lot of work to do.
The Liberals' current approach to helping Canadians install heat pumps or do eco-energy retrofits of their homes, particularly for low-income people but for all Canadians, including middle-class Canadians, is deeply flawed. Last week, they made changes for people mostly in Atlantic Canada who heat with home heating oil. These changes make it dramatically easier to afford these kinds of changes to improve their housing envelope, insulate their homes, add weather sealing and install heat pumps. Those are the changes we need right across this country for people in every province and on all forms of home heating.
Where are we when it comes to achieving the government's stated ambition on reducing climate pollution from home heating sources? We are far behind. Canada's commitment is that heat pumps must be used for more than 10% of home heating by 2030 in order to achieve what is in the emissions reduction plan. Right now, we are at 6%. By 2030, we need to get to that 10%, and that equates to about 560,000 heat pumps installed across the country. That is 70,000 heat pumps per year.
New Democrats had an Order Paper question, in which we asked the government how many heat pumps it has incentivized under its greener homes program since 2021, when it was brought in. We got the numbers back this past March. What was the number? It was not 70,000, but 438 heat pumps.
Granted, heat pumps are being installed for reasons other than the greener homes incentive program, but what this shows is that this commitment on heat pumps is being broken. It is like the promise for two billion trees to be planted; the environment commission just told us it is not going to meet its goal and has become a tree-counting program instead of a tree-planting program. Canada is far behind meeting its ambition and realizing the pace of change that we need if we are going to tackle this existential crisis.
The government's heat pump program is far too difficult for people to access. I want to tell the story of Perry, one of my neighbours in Smithers, B.C. Last June, his natural gas furnace was at the end of its life, and he wanted to do the right thing. He wanted to put in a clean heat pump system that was going to run on clean B.C. electricity, save his household money and reduce climate pollution. He learned about the greener homes program and had an energy adviser do an audit of his house. He found an installer who was skilled and able to install a heat pump system. He went through all these steps, and it is not a simple procedure.
The installer installed the heat pump system. He looked through all the rules and specifications and put in two units. He submitted the paperwork to Natural Resources Canada, to the greener homes program. After months of waiting, he received the answer that although the outside unit that was installed was on the approved list of equipment, it was not approved if used with the inside unit that had been chosen. The inside unit was also on the list of approved equipment, but not in conjunction with the outside unit. One cannot make this stuff up.
There have been months of frustration and appeals to the program to use some common sense. He put in a heat pump that uses electricity and cuts his climate pollution down. This is the goal of the program, and he has done it; however, the program refused all his appeals and said he was not getting his $5,000 rebate. What happened then? The installer went back, tore out one of the units and put it another unit the installer felt was inferior, but now both were definitely on the list and should be approved. He resubmitted the paperwork. Another energy audit was done. After six months, he received an email from the program saying that his account had been closed.
It has been a year and a half, and Perry still has not received his $5,000 rebate. He has put so much time into fighting with the government program that, if he paid himself minimum wage, he would have over $5,000. This just points out how ridiculous the government's approach is to getting people these systems that are going to save them money. We are going to change that.
How are we going to pay for this program? How are we going to put heat pumps in low- and modest-income houses across the country? How are we going to help people on low incomes to afford insulation and weather sealing so they can drive down their bill and have a cost of living that is easier to afford? The answer is very simple.
We are calling for the imposition of a tax on the excess profits of the oil and gas companies, which are making obscene profits and are making money hand over fist during a climate emergency. These companies are fuelling the climate crisis and making life more unaffordable for Canadians in every province and territory.
This is hardly a radical idea. This is exactly what the Conservative government in the U.K. did during the pandemic. It imposed a 25% profits tax on the oil and gas industry in the U.K. They took those revenues and drove them into affordability measures for ordinary people. Not only that, but the tax was then increased to 35%. The time for this idea has come.
Last week we heard from the Parliamentary Budget Officer that if we were only, as a country, to extend the very modest excess profits tax the government has placed on banks and insurance companies of 15% to the oil and gas industry, it would generate $4 billion in revenue. That could go into such programs as the one we are putting forward today to get heat pumps into the homes of low-income Canadians and help them make their homes more energy-efficient, with a proper low-income energy efficiency program. That is going to go a long way.
These companies can afford it; right now the profits the oil and gas industry is making are eyewatering. I am going to provide some of the numbers. In 2022, Canadian Natural Resources had $11 billion in profits. For Suncor, it was $9 billion. I will add that Rich Kruger, the CEO, has said that the company is going to move away from climate ambition toward making even more money. Cenovus had $6.45 billion in profit in 2022. The total for Canadian oil and gas companies is $38.3 billion. This corporate profit-taking is driving inflation, making life less affordable and fuelling the climate crisis. It is time they paid for the solutions Canadians need.