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B.C. Premier Eby signals ‘better co-operation’ with Ottawa on heat pumps

Housing and critical infrastructure other points of discussion with federal leaders
Premier David Eby, here seen in early November 2023, said his government is close to announcing “better cooperation” with the federal government on financial support for heat pumps as well as heating costs generally. (Screencap) (Screencap)

Premier David Eby said his government is close to announcing “better co-operation” with the federal government on financial support for heat pumps as well as heating costs generally.

Speaking from Ottawa Monday (Jan. 29), Eby said discussions with Ottawa around financial support for heat pumps is “trending in the right direction” following a meeting with Jonathan Wilkinson, federal minster of energy and natural resources. Eby added that B.C. is looking to Ottawa for two things.

“One is, we want to make it as simple as possible for British Columbians to transition to clean energy heating, clean energy transportation,” he said. “If you have to fill out multiple application forms for different levels of government, different programs that have different requirements, it just makes that much more difficult.”

The second part is financial support, Eby said. “(B.C.) is putting up resources to support British Columbians to make this transition, to reduce their costs, because we know cost of living has been a serious issue for British Columbia, as well as people across North America right now,” he said. “This is one way to bring down costs for people by supporting them financially and bringing down the cost of this essential appliance for their home.”

When asked for additional details about the timing and financial value of the federal support, Eby added that both sides are “very close” to announcing a process that would make it easier for people to transition toward heat pumps. “That work is advancing well and I expect to have more to say about that in the weeks ahead.”

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As for the actual financial support, Eby did not cite a specific figure, but pointed to on-going budget discussions at the federal level.

“That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to be here, to make sure that B.C. is on the map, (that) our concerns are on the map in terms of fair treatment with Atlantic Canada when it comes to the upcoming budget,” he said.

These discussions are unfolding after Ottawa had announced rebates for Canadians using heating oil.

That move, first announced with little notice in late October 2023, drew opposition from the provincial government as Ottawa was appearing to benefit a political stronghold of the federal Liberals, namely Atlantic Canada, to the detriment of Canadians in western Canada.

Few British Columbians (somewhere between 25,550 to 39,000 homes) use heating oil to heat their homes and those who use it are ineligible for the rebate because B.C. has its own carbon tax.

The federal government also announced incentives for heat pumps that will first roll out in the four Atlantic provinces.

Eby — who had described this move “very startling” and “disturbing” at the time — later gave his government’s protest a personal touch by publicly wearing an “I Heart Heat Pumps” T-shirt during interviews, including the final press conference following a meeting of provincial and territorial leaders.

The provincial government is scheduled to table its budget on Feb. 22. Ottawa is scheduled to wrap up its budget consultations on Feb. 9 with the budget scheduled to be tabled some time thereafter.

Eby also identified housing, critical infrastructure and Ottawa’s cap on international student permits as subject of discussions during his time in Ottawa, where he took part in the state funeral for former federal NDP leader Ed Broadbent.

Broadbent had died at the age of 87 on Jan. 11.

RELATED: B.C. pushing for exemptions to Ottawa’s cap on foreign students


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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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