Mr. Speaker, we are here to debate an opposition day motion from the Conservative Party. As I read the text of the motion, and this is a common occurrence, I find the need to clarify and provide more context to what the Conservatives are calling for. This follows a very important government announcement last week. If we look at the text of the motion, it provides no clarity, no context and no actual solution for how the Conservative Party would deal with a very acute national issue, about which I look forward to talking to with all my colleagues today.
Before I start talking about what the government announced last week, it is important to talk about why there is a carbon price system at all. We are here because we are experiencing more and more dramatic and extreme weather as a result of climate change. Colleagues across the country will have experienced this as well.
My home province has had the worst forest fires in its history. Indeed, that was a reality across the country. We had hurricane Fiona. I have talked to constituents about this. Hurricanes used to happen maybe once a decade on the Atlantic coast and in Nova Scotia. They are happening every year now. In some cases, they are subject to having two storms.
The science is clear. Generally, most parliamentarians in this place believe in the importance of moving forward. Carbon pricing is an effective way to do that. Seventy-seven jurisdictions around the world have a form of carbon pricing. Last election, the Conservative Party ran on a carbon price. Canada is not alone in this regard. It is an important tool to being sure we can drive forward.
The way that the government introduced the system was to be very mindful of balancing affordability. I just listened to the member for Peterborough—Kawartha. She is not entitled to her own facts. The facts are that the Parliamentary Budget Office has consistently shown that eight out of 10 families receive more money back from the climate action incentive payments than what they pay in any form of carbon pricing.
That is not my fact. That is not the member for Peterborough—Kawartha's fact. That is from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, an independent member of this Parliament, who provides that reality.
Carbon pricing in our environmental strategy is working. Notwithstanding that we never hear comments or concerns from the Conservative Party about environmental concerns or a plan, we are the only government in the history of our country that has actually reduced GHG emissions and grown the economy at the same time. Again, that is a fact. Is there more work to do? Absolutely, but I am proud of being part of a government caucus and a government that has been focused on that number one question. I cannot say the same for the official opposition.
That is the contrast. As I have said before, I am not seeing any plan, any vision or any desire to want to jointly address the questions, right now, of affordability and environment. As I have said publicly, those two things have to go hand in hand. The Conservatives do not seem to understand that we have to tackle these issues at the same time. They cannot be independent.
Last week, the government made a really important announcement. As a rural member of Parliament, I am proud to see the adjustments that were made. At the end of the day, not all Canadians have the same access to change behaviour and to benefit from the climate action incentive payment program. Not all Canadians have the same tools in the fight of climate change, particularly the further we go outside major urban areas.
You represent West Nova in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, and I represent Kings—Hants. I think it is fair to say that we both have the types of constituencies where there is some basic form of public transit, but it is not available to all our constituents. There are many instances were the people we represent have to drive longer distances and do not have the same tools as people living in major cities, like Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver.
The government did recognize that in what it originally introduced as a climate program under the national carbon pricing plan. There is a 10% supplement available to Canadians who live outside of a census metropolitan area. However, what the government announced last week was that this increase would go from 10% to 20%. I applaud the government for doing this. That makes a difference for rural Canadians in the federal backstop jurisdictions across the country.
It means that rural Ontarians have more money in their pockets. It means that individuals living in Saskatchewan and Alberta outside of major cities have more money to help support and recognize the lived differences between them and Canadians who live in major urban areas. It is equity in ensuring that this is in place, and the government was smart and mindful to make that change.
One million Canadians use home heating oil across the country: 286,000 in Atlantic Canada; 465,000 in Quebec; 266,000 in Ontario; approximately 30,000 in the Prairie provinces; and 88,000 in British Columbia. I do not have the statistics for northern Canada in front of me, but I know many northerners use heating oil as well.
This is an acute issue, because the reality is that heating oil is two to four times more expensive than other conventional means to heating homes. There is a clear economic incentive to change from a home heating oil furnace. If people at home right now have a furnace that uses oil to heat their home and if they have some money in their bank account, I would humbly suggest they look at finding ways to get off heating oil, because it is vastly more expensive and it is also terrible in an environmental sense.
We do not hold Canadians responsible for the fact that they have certain living circumstances and use oil to heat their homes. There are vulnerable Canadians across the country, in the ridings of the official opposition, in the ridings of the government caucus. I would hazard a guess that every member in this place has some people in their riding who use heating oil. However, we have an interest, as a government, to help those people who may not have the means to change their behaviour themselves.
If people do not actually have the money to take on a project to reduce their reliance on heating oil, then they are stuck. That is exactly why the government launched a program in the fall of 2022 specific to those Canadians, to help them try to make a transition. There is a $10,000 federal grant available to any Canadian who wants to make a transition. The $10,000 grant is available to those of low and medium income. The government has a program that is more loans-based, with zero interest, for those of higher income. However, there are federal resources available across the country.
I will read some statistics, as they inform the debate and the conversation we are having about equity. The equity has been framed around one source of heating oil with no context about the price differential.
For members living in Ontario, I want them to know that if they have people using home heating oil, they are paying, on average, $3,400 a year on that oil. For those on natural gas, it is $900 a year. Therefore, oil is almost four times the amount. If people do not have the money, how do they get off of it? They are in a vicious cycle, using the most expensive fuel to heat their home, and they do not have the money to get off the source they are using. In Regina and Saskatchewan, it is the same thing, $1,400 for natural gas on a yearly basis compared $4,500 for heating oil. In Vancouver, it is $600 for natural gas and $1,800 for heating oil. Also, the prices have gone up 73% over the last two years.
I hear the member for Perth—Wellington saying, “I wonder why.” It is not because of carbon pricing. It is that the level of rhetoric from the other side that shows those members do not understand the fundamental market difficulties of Canadians who are in this situation.
That is why we have launched a national program, which was $250 million. It was available and remains available to all Canadians.
However, what the Prime Minister announced last week was balancing affordability and environmental progress together. He announced that we would augment that plan and temporarily pause carbon pricing on home heating oil. Let us remember that there are a million Canadians who are vulnerable and are paying in excess of anywhere between two to four times the amount that other Canadians are paying on their heating bills.
We launched a program in partnership with Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador to increase the support for Canadians who are in difficult situations. People who are below the provincial median income in my riding and your riding, Mr. Speaker, are going to benefit from a federal grant of up to $15,000 with the Province of Nova Scotia supporting the remaining $5,000. There is a $250 incentive to join the program. We are going to help people actually make a transition off heating oil. It is good for the environment, it is good for affordability and it matters to the most vulnerable Canadians.
I want to give members an example from my riding. Mr. Speaker, you have been there. It was out in rural Hants County, on the Hants shore in Walton. I talked to a woman named Doris. It was about this time last year when we launched some of the programs. She said she was glad to see there was a $10,000 grant she could access, but she was on a senior's pension and the guaranteed income supplement. She did not have a lot of extra money at the end of the month; things were tight. She said she would love to take on the program, but she was quoted $17,000 to $18,000 for the project. She cannot, even though the government is there trying to help, access the program.
Now, Doris in Walton is going to be able to benefit from a program of cost delivery between the Government of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada. Not only is that good for the environment, but more importantly, in the affordability context, it is good for Doris. It is going to save her thousands of dollars a year. I do not hear any solutions from the official opposition of what it is going to do long term. Yes, it would remove approximately 20¢ from Doris's bill each year. We have done that. We have paused the carbon price because we recognize there is a group of Canadians who simply cannot make the transition.
Why would we have a carbon price when we are literally launching a national program to help them out? We have gotten rid of the carbon price. We have done what the Conservatives would do, but we have gone a step further. We have offered Doris a long-term solution to help her make that transition. I do not hear the Conservatives even talking about that program. Great, the Conservatives' plan on affordability is to offer Doris 20¢ off per litre, on average, from her home heating bill, which runs about $1.88 per litre right now. It would be down to $1.68; well done, Conservatives.
Guess what we are going to offer Doris? We are going to offer Doris $2,500 a year in cost savings that she can then use to support herself in other ways. That is a good program. That is actually having a vision to focus on the transition and helping people out, and I do not hear that. Again, I have touched a bit on the exemption. This is a conversation. At the end of the day, we have seen some pundits here in Ottawa. Some say we are undermining the carbon system. No, we are not. We are tying a specific pause to a carbon price with a program for people who are too vulnerable to make the transition, and who have all the economic incentive to change because they are paying four times the energy bill. If they had the money, they would have already transitioned.
These people exist across the country. Is it acute in Atlantic Canada? Absolutely. I am proud of the fact that the government has addressed this. I am proud to be able to go home and tell my constituents we have a solution for them. I am proud that, whether I go to northern Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba or Alberta, I will be able to tell people in the same situation that we have a solution for them too.
The way the Conservative Party has framed this is that somehow this is just for one region, but it is not. It is available for the whole country. The 30,000 households in the prairie provinces that use heating oil, that are vulnerable, that cannot make a transition and are paying four times the price of natural gas, do they not deserve a break too? Do they not deserve a government that is focused on meeting their needs? I have not heard one word from the Conservatives on that whatsoever.
At the end of the day, that is exactly what we have done. What we announced last week is good news for the entire country. It is particularly good news for rural and regional Canada. I am proud, as a member of Parliament representing a rural riding, to have offered thoughtful solutions and adjustments to a national policy, instead of a tear-it-down approach on the other side. Remember that the Conservatives are offering to remove approximately 20¢ off home heating bills. We are offering long-term solutions to actually help people make a transition. That is the difference and Canadians will take notice about what we are doing.
We are focused on vulnerable households. I listened to the leader of the official opposition, and there was not one word about the one million Canadians who are in a very difficult position in Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec, with 465,000 households in Quebec. It is very difficult situation that they are in.
Again, I want to highlight there is federal support across the board. We have launched a specific project to augment the national program.