News & Events

LIEN 2-pager

A summary of LIEN's mission, including a highlight of its advocacy activities and the LIEN pyramid which illustrates its low-income energy conservation and assistance strategy.

LIEN 2-pager (updated October 2008)

Federal environmental plan must include 'green' for Canada's low-income households

Toronto - When the federal government announces plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions and smog this fall, it must include a national energy efficiency program for low-income households, according to leading affordable housing, construction, environmental and anti-poverty groups and Toronto Mayor David Miller.

"Every Torontonian, rich or poor, should be able to make their home more energy efficient to sustain long-term savings," said Mayor David Miller. "Unfortunately, without the support of the federal government, this is not a reality for low-income households. This is as much about improving the quality of life for our most vulnerable residents as it is about improving the quality of our natural environment."

"Funding a national energy efficiency program for those most in need is a smart economic and environmental move," said Zee Bhanji, coordinator of the Low-Income Energy Network.

"Retrofitting low-income housing creates jobs and improves Canada's housing stock," added John Cartwright, President of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council. "By addressing poverty and climate change, we'll make Canada richer. On average, energy retrofit programs save three times what they cost."

Canada's poorest spend 13% of their income on energy, compared with just 4% for average-income Canadian households. Energy inefficient housing is a key factor, yet low-income households are the least able to afford retrofits.

"Toronto Community Housing spends about 100 million dollars on utilities annually, up almost 30% from a few years ago. We are investing our limited resources to replace old appliances with energy efficient ones, but we need the federal government to fund a program to help us retrofit our housing to make it more energy efficient and affordable for low-income households," said Derek Ballantyne, CEO, Toronto Community Housing.

"A flexible program is required to meet the needs of all low-income Canadian households, including those in private rental, owner-occupied and social housing," said Gordon Chong, Chair, Social Housing Services Corporation. "We need to work in partnership with the federal government in order to ensure lasting, positive change."

"Social housing providers would combine their limited resources with federal funding and utility sponsored programs towards needed energy retrofits to address climate change," said Sharad Kerur, Executive Director, Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association. "It's time to work together on getting a national program in place."

"Green Communities Canada (GCC) was funded by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Natural Resources Canada, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities last year to consult broadly in making its recommendations for a national low-income housing energy efficiency program framework," said Bruce Pearce, GCC's vice chair. "We met with Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn's staff in June - but winter is coming, and low-income households need action now."

Canada is currently one of the few Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries without a national low-income energy efficiency program. Both the United States and the United Kingdom have long- running programs in place.

For more information contact:

Cynthia Ross, Toronto Community Housing
416-981-4348; cell 416-882-3731

Green Communities Canada (GCC)
Green Communities Canada is a national association of 40 community-based non-profit organizations that deliver innovative environmental programs and services, with a focus on household and community action. GCC supports member organizations in working together to achieve environmental sustainability, including healthy ecosystems and communities, sustainable resource use, and clean air, water, and soil.

Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN)
Formed in 2004, LIEN is a network of anti-poverty, affordable housing and environmental groups. LIEN has over 60 member organizations, as well as individual and corporate supporters. LIEN coordinates multi-stakeholder initiatives for mitigating the impact of high energy prices on low-income households and ensuring implementation of effective energy conservation programs and policies

Ontario Non-Profit Housing Corporation (ONPHA)
ONPHA is the voice of non-profit housing in Ontario, uniting 770 non-profit organizations providing housing in 220 communities across Ontario. Founded in 1988, ONPHA's members include municipal and private non-profits of all sizes, with all types of funding.

Social Housing Services Corporation (SHSC)
SHSC is a non-profit, independent corporation created by provincial legislation in 2002 to support affordable housing in Ontario. SHSC offers programs and services - such as bulk purchasing, insurance, investment and information services - to help service managers and housing providers manage over 250,000 social housing units.

Toronto and York Region Labour Council
The Toronto and York Region Labour Council is a central labour body that represents 195,000 women and men who work in every sector of the economy. Its mandate is to organize and advocate on issues that are vital to working families throughout the region.

Toronto Community Housing (TCHC)
TCHC, the not-for profit housing corporation owned by the City of Toronto, is home to about 164,000 low and moderate-income tenants - about six per cent of Toronto's population. These families, seniors, refugees, recent immigrants and people with special needs live in 58,000 households in communities throughout Toronto. Formed in 2002, TCHC is Canada's largest landlord and one of the largest social housing landlords in North America in terms of size, budget and properties.

LIEN Currents, September/October 2006 issue

September/October 2006 issue

LIEN Currents, June 2006 issue

June 2006 issue

LIEN proposal for a low-income rate assistance program

A proposal for a ratepayer-fundedĀ Ontario Home Energy Affordability Programhas been developed for LIEN and filed at the OEB in a gas distribution rate hearing. The proposal, which is available on LIEN's website, has five major components: rate affordability, arrears management, crisis intervention, conservation and demand management, and consumer protections. It advocates that Ontario's low-income consumers should not be paying more than 6% of their total household income on energy.

LIEN Currents, May 2006 issue

LIEN bulletin - May 2006 issue

Affordable energy rate plan for low-income people missing as May 1st electricity price hikes take effect

TORONTO - The Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) is calling for government action to ensure low-income people can maintain access to basic energy needs. The electricity price and distribution rate increases announced by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) on April 12th take effect today. Yet, there is no permanent rate assistance program in place for Ontario's low-income consumers who are vulnerable to increases in shelter and utility costs and may be forced to make difficult choices between heating, eating and paying the rent.

Low-income rate assistance is a crucial component of LIEN's recommended provincial strategy for reducing energy consumption and costs for low-income consumers. LIEN's proposal for an Ontario Home Energy Affordability Program has been filed at the OEB and is available here. The proposal was developed for LIEN by Roger Colton, a U.S. expert on low-income energy issues, and has five major components: rate affordability, arrears management, crisis intervention, conservation and demand management, and consumer protections. It advocates that Ontario's low-income consumers should not be paying more than 6% of their total household income on energy.

"The government has recognized that low-income consumers are at risk with its announcement of a one-time payment of up to $120 to assist with rising electricity costs, and the doubling of the provincial Emergency Energy Fund," says Zee Bhanji, Coordinator of LIEN. "While these initiatives are welcome, they are short-term, reactive fixes. What's required is a long-term, proactive solution - and we hope the Ontario Home Energy Affordability Program proposal will help keep the lights on for low-income households in the province."

LIEN's proposal for a low-income rate assistance program

A proposal for an Ontario Home Energy Affordability Program was developed for LIEN by Roger Colton, U.S. low-income energy expert, and submitted to the Ontario Energy Board. The proposal has five major components: rate affordability, arrears management, crisis intervention, conservation and demand management, and consumer protections. It advocates that Ontario's low-income consumers should not be paying more than 6% of their total household income on energy.

LIEN Annual Conference 2006 - Peterborough

"Heat, Eat AND Pay the Rent: Green Solutions to Energy Poverty in Ontario"

The 2006 Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) & Affordable Housing Action Committee (AHAC) Conference
Co-sponsored by the Peterborough Community Legal Centre (PCLC), Community Counselling & Resource Centre (CCRC)

Friday, May 26, 2006, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Westdale United Church, 1509 Sherbrooke Street, Peterborough

A gathering for anti-poverty, affordable housing and environmental advocates to share experiences and engage in an action agenda on low-income energy issues such as:

  • Rising energy prices and rate affordability
  • Reducing bills and pollution through energy conservation programs for low-income consumers (homeowners and renters)
  • Smart Meters, sub-metering, and how the [new] Tenant Protection Act deals with energy issues
  • How local utilities can be involved, and the role of the OPA/Conservation Bureau and the OEB
  • Where should our energy come from?
  • Getting to a comprehensive province-wide low-income energy conservation/assistance strategy
  • A Case Study: Peterborough's experience with energy assistance for low-income households

Who should attend?
Anyone interested in low-income energy issues, or who wants to get involved. No special expertise required - bring your questions and your experiences to share with others.

Who/What is the Low-Income Energy Network?
The Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) is a network of community organizations that was formed to raise awareness of implications for low-income households of increases in energy prices and to propose solutions. LIEN aims to ensure universal access to adequate energy as a basic necessity, while minimizing the impacts on health and on the local and global environment of meeting the essential energy and conservation needs of all Ontarians. LIEN promotes programs and policies which tackle the problems of energy poverty and homelessness, reduce Ontario's contribution to smog and climate change, and promote a healthy economy through the more efficient use of energy, a transition to renewable sources of energy, education and consumer protection.

LIEN currently has over 50 member organizations and a steering committee made up of representatives from:

  • Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO)
  • Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA)
  • Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC)
  • Share the Warmth (STW)
  • Toronto Disaster Relief Committee (TDRC)
  • Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA)
  • Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA)

Conference materials:

Registration form


Low-Income Energy Efficiency Plan for Canada - Bruce Pearce, Clifford Maynes (Green Communities Canada)

Peterborough programs & services for low-income people - Rosemary O'Donnell (Housing Resource Centre)

Energy Assistance Background Report (Peterborough) - Margaret McCutcheon (Housing Resource Centre)

Low-Income Energy Plan for Peterborough City and County - John Todd (Elenchus Research Associates)

Peterborough's FUSE program & Thermal Storage project - David Whitehouse (Peterborough Utility Services)

LIEN Advocacy Update - Mary Todorow (Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario)

Affordable Housing, Electricity and the Conservation Bureau - Julia McNally (Conservation Bureau)

Electricity Conservation, Demand Management Programs and Low-Income Customers - Zora Crnojacki (Ontario Energy Board)

Helping Low-Income Consumers - Sarah Blackstock (Income Security Advocacy Centre)

Low-Income Energy Efficiency: Brantford Power's Conserving Homes program - Edward de Gale (Share the Warmth)

A Lean, Green and Clean Energy Future for Ontario - Keith Stewart (World Wildlife Fund - Canada)

Wrap-up: Working locally to eliminate energy poverty - Michael Shapcott (Toronto Disaster Relief Committee)

LIEN supports social housing conservation program as a good first step

(Toronto) The Low Income Energy Network (LIEN) welcomed the announcement by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) of the launch of its "Low-Income Conservation and Demand Management Program". Energy Minister Donna Cansfield and Peter Love, the province's Chief Conservation Officer, made the announcement today at the Energy Matters conference in Brampton.

"Low-income consumers are the most vulnerable to energy and electricity price increases, and supporting a program in the social housing sector is a good first step, " said Theresa McClenaghan, counsel with the Canadian Environmental Law Association.

Low-income energy consumers face challenging barriers to participating in a conservation culture in Ontario without the type of systematic assistance that the OPA announced today. The OPA was responding to a directive from the Minister of Energy asking it to provide a 100 MW of electricity savings in low-income and social housing conservation and demand management programs.

Barriers for low-income consumers include lack of access to capital to pay for building improvements and efficient appliance replacement, and lack of control over major factors affecting energy consumption in the case of low-income tenants.

"Inability to pay for energy costs is a leading cause of homelessness in Ontario. It is essential that a low-income conservation and demand management program address the real issues that Ontario low-income consumers are facing, regardless of whether they own their own homes, are tenants in social housing, or are tenants in the private rental market, " stated Mary Todorow, policy analyst with the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario. "We look forward to a quick development and expansion of the OPA's low-income conservation program beyond the social housing sector this spring as promised by the Chief Conservation Officer."

LIEN will continue to monitor and participate in development of low-income energy programs assisting Ontario's vulnerable energy consumers to ensure that they are not left on the sidelines as Ontario develops a robust conservation culture.

News Categories

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