CCEDNet Manitoba's 2012 Policy Resolutions

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2012-10 Reducing utility bills while creating economic opportunities for low-income Manitobans

Whereas: Approximately 80,000 Manitoba low income families and individuals live in homes with high utility bills due to inefficient furnaces, inadequate insulation, and high-flow toilets and showerheads.

Whereas: The Manitoba Hydro Act was written in 1961, when energy efficiency was not a priority, and gives no mandate to Manitoba Hydro to lower utility bills for low income families and individuals in Manitoba;

Whereas: The government has directed Manitoba Hydro to insulate some of these low-income homes through the Winter Cost Control Heating Act and the resulting Lower Income Energy Efficiency Program (LIEEP). However, the LIEEP is expensive and ineffective due to the following legislative impediments:

  • The Manitoba Hydro Act does not permit the utility to provide on-bill financing tied to an address even though bill reductions would outweigh financing charges (loans don’t work for low income customers and/or for renters who don’t own the home they are living in).
  • The LIEEP is not able to insulate where an Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) recipient lives because EIA pays the bill and would therefore be the beneficiary of the retrofit. This is considered a transfer of dollars from Hydro to Government and contrary to the Manitoba Hydro Act.

Whereas: Renters are currently ineligible for the LIEEP because of a concern that landlords or subsequent non low-income tenants would be the beneficiary of the retrofit.

Whereas: Retrofitting the homes of only 40,000 Manitoba low income families and individuals would:

  • Help reduce energy poverty through approximately $28 million in annual utility bill reductions.
  • Significantly reduce the $30 million a year that Manitoba Hydro loses in unpaid bills in the low income community.
  • Create 3,500 person years of employment for some of the 25,000 urban Aboriginal males who live in Manitoba with “multiple barriers to employment”

Whereas: Most inner city academics and front line workers agree that addressing Winnipeg’s “employability crisis” would significantly curtail the demands on the justice system and the police service. (Note also that seventy percent of Manitoba’s inmates are aboriginal and that the City of Winnipeg’s Police Service budget has increased by over $80 million a year in the last 7 years).

Whereas: There are existing social enterprises such as BUILD and Manitoba Green Retrofit, and BEEP in Brandon that have successfully trained Aboriginal males to perform retrofits and moved them and others who are underrepresented in the trades into that sector.

Whereas: A portion of the 3,500 person years of employment generated from the retrofitting of 40,000 low-income homes could be set aside for training agencies and social enterprises.

Whereas: The Manitoba Construction Sector Council estimates that 10,700 trades jobs are needed to be filled within the next 10 years. Failing to do so will cause significant economic issues for Manitobans and will drive up construction related costs for the Manitoba government and Manitoba municipalities.

Be it Resolved That:
CCEDNet Manitoba coordinate a province wide endorsement campaign to see a hundred or more organizations provide written support for legislation that will:

  • Mandate Manitoba Hydro to ensure that 40,000 or more homes “where low income families and individuals live” (including where social assistance recipients and renters live) receive deep retrofits in the next 8 years in order to lower their utility bills;
  • Take a neighbourhood approach – meaning entire low income neighbourhoods and/or communities will be retrofitted at one time;
  • Give Hydro all tools necessary to meet their mandate including permitting Manitoba Hydro to finance energy efficiency retrofits in a similar fashion to how they offer energy services via charges on utility bills; and
  • Require Hydro to work with social enterprises who hire people that are underrepresented in the trades to do the work.

Be it Further Resolved That:
CCEDNet Manitoba urge the government of Manitoba to pass this legislation.

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