+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 9-18S

Exemption of Seniors Housing from Requirement to Pay Carbon Levy

Date:
March 20, 2018
Expiry Date:
April 1, 2021
Active Status:
Active
Sponsors:
Beaver County
District:
5 - Edmonton East
Year:
2018
Convention:
Spring
Category:
Environment
Status:
Accepted in Part
Vote Results:
Carried
Preamble:

WHEREAS the Government of Alberta (under the Climate Leadership Implementation Act, Bill 20/2016 [Chapter C-16.9]) has introduced a provincial carbon levy as of January 1, 2017 to reduce the carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions in Alberta; and

WHEREAS the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) and its members support initiatives to reduce the carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions and want to be part of the solution; and

WHEREAS regulated housing providers that provide publicly supported housing, independent living, supportive living, designated supportive living and rent regulated accommodation are charged the carbon levy; and

WHEREAS housing management bodies (HMBs) provide housing services to thousands of Albertans and most RMA members are also members of an HMB (e.g. seniors’ housing foundations); and

WHEREAS the carbon levy rebate goes to low and middle income individuals and families in regulated housing who do not pay the utility bills and have no ability to utilize the rebate to reduce the carbon footprint in a congregate setting, which is the intent of the levy; and

WHEREAS the Government of Alberta has introduced provincial carbon incentives to businesses and communities to physically reduce their energy consumption through energy efficiency initiatives; and

WHEREAS the provincial carbon incentives to businesses and communities do not begin to address the requirements needed to reduce the carbon footprint of the aging infrastructure in this housing segment; and

WHEREAS the regulated housing providers have no resources to change or enhance the current infrastructure, or to change the behavior of their residents, to make the necessary reductions that will sufficiently reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and

WHEREAS the carbon levy will increase operating and capital expenses for HMBs, impacting the quality of accommodation and accommodation services for Albertans residing in their buildings;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) urge the Government of Alberta to exempt housing management bodies from the provincial carbon levy;

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the RMA advocate to Alberta Seniors and Housing for additional capital funds to be accessed by housing management bodies to install more efficient infrastructure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in regulated housing facilities.

Member Background:

Housing management bodies (HMBs) provide housing services to thousands of Albertans and most RMA members are also members of an HMB (e.g. seniors’ housing foundations).

HMBs will face increased direct costs in utilities and fuel as well as indirect increases for food, equipment and supplies, and contracted services as a result of the levy. However, the ability of HMB’s to recapture any portion of these increased costs is restricted by current government directive.

The self-contained apartment portfolio, which many HMBs manage on behalf of the Government of Alberta, has rigid regulations in place to accommodate the low income seniors who reside in these suites. The rent is fixed at 30% of the income on line 150 of the resident’s Notice of Assessment. While electricity costs may be charged over and above the rental fee to a maximum of $50 per month, no further fees for other utility costs are allowable.

The Government of Alberta also requires HMBs to recapture at least 80% of the building’s electricity costs. Anticipated increases in electricity distribution fees may push some HMBs below the mandated recoverable amount of 80%. Further, increases in natural gas will need to be absorbed without any means of recovery, as these costs are included in the rental fee.

Residents of these self-contained units, however, will be receiving carbon levy rebates as determined by their taxable income, which falls well below the $47,500 income threshold for the carbon levy rebate. They are essentially receiving a rebate for costs they are not incurring. While we understand that the Government of Alberta is protecting vulnerable citizens through this legislated energy transition, our concern is that some of those funds are being directed to individuals who are not bearing the additional costs, rather than to the HMBs who are going to see the increases.

RMA Background:

1:17S: Carbon Levy Exemption of Natural Gas and Propane for All Food Production Uses

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties appeal to the Government of Alberta to provide carbon levy exemption certificates for the use of natural gas and propane for all food production uses.

DEVELOPMENTS: Though it is positive that the Government of Alberta has indicated in its response that multiple ministries and the Alberta Climate Change Office are exploring alternative solutions to address concerns regarding the carbon levy that have been identified by the AAMDC, there is no indication that exemption certificates will be issued as requested in this resolution.  The AAMDC’s Climate Change Advisory Committee recognized the benefit that Alberta’s agricultural lands serves as a carbon sink, and supports the need for continued advocacy for an exemption from the carbon levy on natural gas and propane used for food production.  Due to the lack of commitment by the Government of Alberta in moving this forward, this resolution has been assigned a status of Intent Not Met. The AAMDC will continue to work with the government and monitor any resulting develops related to this issue.

 

2-16F: Exemption of Municipalities from Carbon Levy

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Government of Alberta to exempt all municipalities in Alberta from the carbon levy.

DEVELOPMENTS: The Government of Alberta response indicates that municipalities will not be provided an exemption from the carbon levy. Although the AAMDC appreciates the Government of Alberta’s willingness to collaborate with municipalities to ensure that programs provided through Energy Efficiency Alberta and other bodies provide benefits to municipalities, there is still a concern that imposing the levy on municipalities will force an increase in municipal taxes and fees to maintain levels of service. The AAMDC’s Climate Change Advisory Committee supported the need for a municipal exemption from the carbon levy, and as such, this resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met.

 

6-16F: Carbon Levy Exemption on Natural Gas and Propane Used for Agricultural Operations

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that the Government of Alberta amend the Climate Leadership Implementation Act to exempt farming operations from the carbon levy on natural gas and propane.

DEVELOPMENTS: The Government of Alberta response indicates that natural gas and propane used for agricultural purposes will not be exempted from carbon levy payments. The AAMDC appreciates the exemptions applied to marked gasoline and diesel for agricultural use, as well as other current and future tools implemented by the Government of Alberta to assist agriculture producers in balancing energy efficiency with operational viability. However, as the response does not indicate a willingness to meet the intent of the resolution, this resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met. The AAMDC’s Climate Change Advisory Committee explored the impacts of the carbon levy on the agriculture industry and identified the need for continued advocacy for an exemption from the carbon levy on natural gas and propane used for food production.  Advocacy on this issue will continue.

Government Response:

Alberta Seniors and Housing

Government has the backs of seniors in Alberta and is fighting for what matters to them. We’re incredibly proud of the work we’ve done to fight for seniors including ensuring that the vast majority of seniors are getting a carbon levy rebate.

In cases like community housing, seniors’ lodges and seniors’ self-contained apartments where tenant rent includes heating costs, and a resident gets a carbon levy rebate, a small portion of it is used to help offset any potential increases in heating costs. The tenant still keeps over 70 per cent of their rebate, which helps make life more affordable for everyone.

Government has also developed programs to help housing management bodies and seniors save even more money. The Affordable Housing Energy Savings Program (AHESP) and the Seniors Home Adaptation and Repair Program both are helping seniors retrofit their homes to not only make them more energy efficient, but to help ensure they’re able to stay in their own homes for as long as they can.

The AHESP is also available to housing providers as well. Energy efficiency audits will be conducted through AHESP that will guide retrofits on government-owned and supported affordable housing stock to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce utility costs for residents.

Energy Efficiency Alberta also offers a number of programs that help seniors including:

  • home improvement rebates, online rebates for appliances and thermostats, and residential and commercial solar programs;
  • supports for non-profit and volunteer organizations through the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre; and
  • the Non-Profit Energy Efficiency Transition program, which provides funding to non-profit and volunteer-based organizations, including those that help seniors, to obtain detailed energy audits and create energy management plans.

Alberta Treasury Board and Finance 

In Budget 2018, we increased funding for affordable housing providers by $11.2 million to address critical maintenance needs. We are also giving housing providers $25 million through the AHESP to improve energy efficiency in their facilities so they can save money and become more sustainable.

Alberta Environment and Parks

Alberta Environment and Parks has no further input beyond the responses from Alberta Seniors and Housing and Alberta Treasury Board and Finance.

Alberta Energy

Alberta Environment and Parks has no further input beyond the responses from Alberta Seniors and Housing and Alberta Treasury Board and Finance.

Development:

The response provided by the Government of Alberta outlines some important supports provided to seniors and seniors housing facilties to offset the financial burden of the Alberta Carbon Levy. Although housing bodies will continue to pay the Carbon Levy, the provincial funding provided through the Affordable Housing Energy Savings Program (AHESP) fulfills the second request of this resolution by providing capital funds to allow for the installation of energy efficient infrastructure in regulated housing facilities. The resolution is assigned a status of Accepted in Part.

Several RMA members have also expressed concerns with seniors lodge residents being issued carbon levy rebates due to their income levels despite the fact that they are not responsible for paying for lodge utilities such as heat and electricity. Were the rebates provided directly to housing management bodies responsible for actually paying the carbon levy on lodge utility bills, the increased costs associated with the levy would be at least partially offset. RMA will advocate on this approach as well.  

Provincial Ministries:
Energy,
Environment and Parks,
Seniors,
Treasury Board and Finance
Back to Resolutions Database