Let’s talk about real quality of life and how a decent government program can contribute to it. Many years ago, nobody could afford to get into the housing market in Alberta. So the provincial government offered new home buyers an interest-free loan of $5,000 to help out with their downpayment. I took one of those loans, paid it off in the space of a few years and the investment probably cost the Government of Alberta whatever they could have made on the stock market with that money. Even with a whole whack of us accessing that program, the amount of interest lost probably didn’t amount to a hill of beans. But if I hadn’t had that help, I might still be living in an apartment. I certainly wouldn’t be paying the property taxes I pay to the municipality now.
This is what the Liberal green home incentive that Stephane Dion proposes feels like to me. He is correct that most of us can reduce our energy consumption by up to 40 per cent. He is also correct that most of us are hesitant to invest in “greening” our homes because of the initial investment. So offering us up to $10,000 in interest-free loans is a fabulous incentive. We get the capital costs taken care of up front, we add value to our homes and we start realizing the benefits of those savings immediately while we pay back the loan with no interest added. Figure in the benefit to the environment and it’s a sensible, sweet deal.
Of course, the whiners in BC — where, compared to the prairies, they hardly need much heat — are the first to dive into the bitch fest. Will they take a double hit due to their new 2.3 per cent carbon tax on oil consumption? Not if Dion negotiates successfully with the provinces. And, um, not if they start taking the bus and turning down the heat.
In any case, it’s an investment in the future and a guaranteed cost savings that will pay off for as long your house stands, which is a helluva lot more benefit for a helluva a lot longer than Harper is promising.
– Eleanor Claire