Start hunting for government rebates
The trick is, rebates come and go, so no definitive list can be made without quickly going out of date. Your best bet? Start your search online. Look for “Government of Canada rebates and grants,” and do similar searches for rebate programs from your provincial or municipal government. You should find listings of programs currently on offer such as this one from Ontario.
Or, you can pick up the phone and make a call to Service Canada at 1-800-622-6232 and tell them what you’re looking for. Most cities and towns have a Government of Canada office you can visit, if you prefer to speak to someone in person. Go to servicecanada.gc.ca to find the office nearest to you.
The Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE) displays a province-by-province list of rebates, grants and low-interest loans.
Here are a few of our current favourites.
Education and retraining
An educated populace is in the best interest of all levels of government -- and some are clever enough to realize that and to offer assistance and incentives.
• New Brunswick and Manitoba offer qualifying post-secondary students a rebate on tuition -- up to 60 per cent of total tuition cost -- and that’s some serious coin.
• The Government of Canada offers a range of grants and bursaries for qualifying students. And there's also free RESP money to help you save for kids' upcoming educational costs.
Save on home renovations
• Newfoundland and Labrador offers the Residential Energy Efficiency Program, which helps lower-income households make energy-efficient improvements, and a Home Heating Benefit available for families with a total income under $40,000.
• In some places, that old, inefficient appliance is worth a few bucks -- and not just on Craigslist. Look into government rebates when you retire an old fridge, such as this one in Nova Scotia.
• Nova Scotia also offers financial assistance to low-income households in need of a home heating upgrade.
• In Saskatchewan, SaskEnergy will conduct an evaluation of your home’s heating and energy needs then help defray the cost of the retrofit.
• Building from the ground up? This Nova Scotia program offers tools, evaluations and rebates to homeowners who are building an energy-efficient home. It does cost some cash to enroll but the savings will pay for any initial financial outlay.
Thinking green? Many government agencies are in the business of helping homeowners and landlords go green, whether it’s to install low-flow toilets or even solar panels and geothermal heating systems.
• In P.E.I., save on installing small-scale renewable energy equipment.
• Solar panels are a fantastic idea, but expensive. Some provinces offer a tax break to help get you off the grid.
• Are you a business owner with staff? The federal government offers help with financing and wage subsidies. For example, in Ontario, if you hire and train an apprentice, you may be eligible for a tax credit of up to $10,000 per year.
• In the four western provinces, the Women’s Enterprise Initiative offers start-up money to qualifying female entrepreneurs.
• If you’re in manufacturing or an industry with an environmental impact, you might qualify for a new kind of currency -- carbon credits.
Now this is just a starting point, a few ideas to get you thinking. Remember, government programs come and go as often as, well, governments and budgets. So don’t run out and buy $50,000 worth of solar panels until you’ve done your homework. In matters of money we always suggest consulting with your financial adviser or accountant to find the program that’s best for you and your unique circumstances and for guidance filling out those confusing forms.
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