Tackling Energy Poverty


Consumers' Association of Canada (CAC), Manitoba Branch




For many Canadian households, limited and insufficient incomes can make meeting basic costs for food, clothing, and utilities very challenging. The struggles many Canadians face in an effort to cope with high energy bills have become very evident in the media and in reports from utility companies themselves. The Manitoba branch of the Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC Manitoba) undertook research to examine the complex interdisciplinary issue of energy poverty in Canada, and the efficiency, effectiveness, and accessibility of programs designed to help consumers pay their bills. The research included a literature review, interviews with representatives of affected and interested policy communities, a review of programs and initiatives designed to help consumers pay their bills, and a focus group with consumers in six Canadian locations.
CAC’s research found that programs designed to address energy poverty must take a multi-faceted approach. They must consider consumer protection and feedback, the inadequacies of income assistance programs to meet needs in a way that supports a healthy quality of life, and consider all aspects of housing construction and design and not just heating sources. Finally it is essential that public programs and policies keep pace with the changes taking place in the renewable energy field. Only with such a comprehensive approach can we hope to eliminate energy poverty. Based on the review of literature, the engagement with policy community interviewees, the focus group results and the review of national and provincial legislation programs, CAC Manitoba developed six strategies for energy poverty reduction and alleviation: Engagement, Education, Energy efficiency, Bill/Income affordability, Housing and Enabling legislation.

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OCA Funded Research
This research received funding support through the Office of Consumer Affairs' Contributions Program.

Contact information

Consumer Association of Canada, Manitoba Branch
17-222 Osborne Street South
Winnipeg, Manitoba  R3L 1Z3
(204) 452-2572
(204) 284-1876

Source: Consumer Policy Research Database

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