On July 22, MP Lloyd Longfield shared a press release  in response to an announcement by the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, that highlighted the application stream for SME projects related to the Climate Action Incentive Fund (CAIF) will be open for 90 days from July 17, 2019.

Earlier this summer, McKenna announced the CAIF Rebate program to support the energy efficiency of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Businesses can apply to this fund to receive up to 25 per cent of energy-efficiency project costs and up to 50 per cent of energy-efficient equipment and retrofits that:

  • improve processes
  • result in cleaner transportation, and
  • produce renewable energy.

“In communities across Canada, small and medium-sized businesses are proving that taking action on climate change is good for business,” McKenna told Innovation Guelph. “To build on their leadership and ensure more small and medium-sized businesses have the means to take action, we are helping business owners invest in new equipment and retrofits to be more energy efficient, cut pollution and save money.”

As an SME, if you are planning energy reduction projects or contemplating related purchases, it may make sense to wait for the details of the program to be announced later this month. Even if your efforts don’t qualify for the rebate, energy reduction leads to savings that impact your bottom line.

Program Details

Now that the Budget Implementation Act received Royal Assent, SMEs in Ontario and three other provinces are eligible for the funding. Caroline Thériault, Deputy Director of Communications, Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, said SMEs will be able to take action that produces results and saves money in the long term.

“We know SME owners are busy, which is why we designed our program to be simple and user-friendly,” Thériault said. “The funding is based on a first-come, first-served basis, as long as they meet the eligible criteria. Details and application information is available on the Climate Action Incentive Fund website.“


Lloyd Longfield, Member of Parliament for Guelph said it’s important to consider the benefits to business owners in making investments that positively address energy-efficiency. “Energy efficiency investments can pay for themselves by increasing the value of buildings and plants,” Longfield said. “Energy efficient buildings and plants enjoy lower operating costs and better financing terms. Even small investments can dramatically lower operating costs.”

No law requires you to save energy, it’s more of a carrot, explained Bruce Taylor, President of Enviro-Stewards when IG met with him. “The rebate acts as the motivation to do it now, and it will generate awareness,” Taylor said. “The efforts make sense whether there is an incentive or not. But it’s about perceived priorities; even if this program can bring awareness it will have value. Businesses don’t always know energy reduction is a priority for business competitiveness.”

One Approach

Taylor’s company helps SMEs understand the importance of their efforts to improve energy efficiency. “If they save a dollar it’s like obtaining $20 in repeat sales every year; so, it directly contributes to net profit.”  According to their Annual Public Benefit Statement, Enviro-Stewards helped save SMEs and large corporations a total of $77.5 million as of last year (with an average payback of 0.9 year).

When investigating opportunities for energy efficiency, Taylor said it’s important to ensure SMEs are looking at the right things. Getting at the root cause delivers more significant and quicker payback than looking to different sources of energy. Examining what job the energy or water does for a company can better lead to reducing its consumption and that makes good business sense, he said. If you save on carbon tax by not using the energy, you’ll also save on the energy bill. Additionally, a company that has a compelling purpose that includes environmental responsibility is better able to attract and retain top talent, he said.


At his facility in Elmira, Taylor has made the types of changes alluded to in the Carbon Tax Rebate program announcement. He retrofitted his office in a 100-year old building with new windows, lower energy lighting and he has a living wall that removes CO2 resulting in 97 per cent less heating and cooling requirements for replacement air.

“We did the majority of the retrofits on our own, just the saving of energy in turn saves you money,” he said. “As of 2018, we reduced our carbon footprint by 74 per cent per employee. Therefore, our annual carbon tax will cost us about $150 per year rather than $570 per year.”