Energy Assistance

Energy Financial Assistance

Energy assistance funds for low-income consumers

 Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP)

The OESP is an Ontario Energy Board (OEB) program that lowers electricity bills for low-income households. The OESP provides a monthly credit to eligible customers based on household income and household size. The OESP credits are applied directly to eligible customers’ bills, beginning January 1, 2016.  

Customers can apply online at OntarioElectricitySupport.ca. You need to complete the online application, print and sign the consent form, and mail it to the address provided on our website. A paper version of the application can be downloaded from the OESP application website at OntarioElectricitySupport.ca or can be mailed to applicants by the OESP Contact Centre upon request. Customers unable to apply online can contact an intake agency. Designated intake agencies can be searched by region on the OESP application website at OntarioElectricitySupport.ca.

Applications take about 6 to 8 weeks to process. Credits don’t take effect until you submit all required information and your application is processed. The program is available to all low-income customers who have accounts with electric utilities, unit sub-meter providers and retail energy companies. Customers must apply to the program.

For more information, contact the OESP Contact Centre at 1-855-831-8151.

Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP)

LEAP Emergency Financial Assistance is a comprehensive, year-round emergency financial assistance program developed by the Ontario Energy Board to assist low-income energy customers better manage their bill payments and energy costs. The program’s design is based on the “Winter Warmth” program (previously administered by the United Way) and is intended to supplement existing government initiatives. LEAP Emergency Financial Assistance, which is funded through the distribution rates of distributors, is a grant program intended to provide emergency relief to eligible low-income customers who may be experiencing difficulty paying current arrears.  It is not intended to provide regular or ongoing bill payment assistance.

The delivery of LEAP Emergency Financial Assistance relies heavily on cooperation between utilities and social service agencies. It is expected that as agencies screen and assess applicants in need, that they may refer customers not only for Emergency Financial Assistance, but also for customer service measures and/or conservation programs. However, if no referrals are provided, we recommend that you contact the utility and request what your options may be. For more information, please go to:

http://www.ontarioenergyboard.ca/OEB/_Documents/Press+Releases/bckgrndr_lowincome.pdf

The maximum grant level is $500 per fuel per household per year.  At the discretion of the agency, you may be eligible for a grant of up to $600 if you live in an electrically-heated home.  Some utilities, such as Hydro One, are giving clients additional funds, up to $550 – $575 if clients normally heat with another fuel source, such as oil, but have been using electric heating because they were not able to purchase oil.

The first step is to contact your electricity or natural gas provider or unit sub-metering provider. You will be referred to the social service agency serving the area in which you reside (this agency is called the “lead agency”). The lead agency, and not your utility provider, is responsible for assessing whether you are eligible for LEAP Emergency Financial Assistance. For more information, go to http://www.ontarioenergyboard.ca/OEB/Consumers/Consumer+Protection/Help+for+Low-Income+Energy+Consumers

Upon contacting your utility you will be provided the number for the utility’s Lead agency who will complete an initial eligibility screening with you over the phone.  If you meet the initial criteria, you will then be requested to contact another local social service agency in your area to complete a small application process.

Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI)

Starting January 1, 2013, funding for five former homelessness-related programs, including the Emergency Energy Fund (EEF), was combined into one program – the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI). The purpose of the CHPI is to provide flexibility for municipalities to provide locally-based solutions that address local homelessness-related needs.

Municipal Service Managers have the flexibility to choose the programs and services they offer in their communities with their consolidated funding and to establish eligibility criteria. This may include programs and services that assist households at risk of homelessness retain their housing, such as emergency assistance for the payment of utilities arrears. Contact your local Service Manager for information about the specific programs and services available in your community through the CHPI.

Northern Ontario Energy Credit

The Northern Ontario Energy Credit helps low- to moderate-income individuals 18 years of age and older and families living in Northern Ontario with the higher energy costs they face living in the north. The credit is part of the Ontario Trillium Benefit.

For the 2016 benefit year, single people can receive up to $146, and families (including single parents) can receive up to $224. These amounts are adjusted for inflation each year.

You may qualify for the 2016 credit if:   

  • your principal residence on December 31, 2014 and at the beginning of the payment month is in Northern Ontario*, and
  •     at the beginning of the payment month you are 18 years of age or older, or have or previously had a spouse or common-law partner, or are a parent who lives or previously lived with your child, and
  •     for 2015, at least one of the following conditions applies:

                 -  rent or property tax for your principal residence was paid by or for you, or
                  - you lived on a reserve and home energy costs were paid by or for you, or
                  - you lived in a public long-term care home and an amount for accommodation was paid by or for you.

*Northern Ontario means the districts of Algoma, Cochrane, Kenora, Manitoulin, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Rainy River, Sudbury, Thunder Bay or Timiskaming.

You apply for the credit by completing the ON-BEN form, which is part of your return. You may qualify for this payment even if you do not owe income tax. The deadline for filing returns is April 30 of each year. If you file late, your credit payments may be delayed.

Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit

This credit helps low- to moderate?income individuals with property taxes and the sales tax on energy. The credit is part of the Ontario Trillium Benefit.

For the 2016 benefit year, you could get:

  • up to $1,008* if you are a non-senior ($784* to help with property taxes and $224* to help with sales tax on energy)
  • up to $1,148* if you are a senior ($924* to help with property taxes and $224* to help with sales tax on energy)
  • up to $224* if you live on a reserve or in a public long-term care home
  • $25 for the time you lived in a designated college, university or private school residence in 2015.

*These amounts are adjusted for inflation each year.

You may qualify for the 2016 credit if, on December 31, 2015, you resided in Ontario, and:

  • rent or property tax for your principal residence was paid by or for you for 2015
  • you lived in a student residence
  • you lived in a long-term care home, or
  • you lived on a reserve and home energy costs were paid by or for you for your principal residence on the reserve for 2015, and
  • at the beginning of the payment month, you are:
  • a resident of Ontario, and
  • 18 years of age or older, or have or previously had a spouse or common-law partner, or are a parent who lives or previously lived with your child.

You apply for the credit by completing the ON-BEN form, which is part of your personal income tax and benefit return (return). You may qualify for this payment even if you do not owe income tax. The deadline for filing returns is April 30 of each year. If you file late, your payments may be delayed.

 

 

Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN)
c/o Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO)
1500 - 55 University Avenue
Toronto, Ontario, M5J 2H7
Phone: 416-597-5855 ext. 5167
Toll-free: 1-866-245-4182 ext. 5167
Fax: 416-597-5821
Email: info@lowincomeenergy.ca