Liberal axe falls on oil tank & septic system replacement program for low-income households

April 17, 2014

NDP environment critic Lenore Zann says the Liberals’ decision to cancel a $1.5 million expansion of the Environmental Home Assessment Program (EHAP) is bad news for Nova Scotia homeowners in need of oil tank replacement or septic system upgrades.

Thursday, during Question Period Liberal Environment Minister Randy Delorey acknowledged he was not following through on the expansion of the program announced in August of 2013. Under the expanded program, eligible homeowners could receive up to $1,000 to replace an aging oil tank, or up to $3,000 to upgrade a septic system. 

Because of the Liberal decision, oil tanks will no longer be included under the program.

Delorey is axing the program even though his department’s total budget has been increased by more than $1.5 million – the cost required to provide the program.

“The overall budget of the Environment department has increased by more than enough to pay for this worthwhile program, but it appears Minister Delorey would rather spend the money elsewhere,” said Zann. “I guess increasing his ministerial office’s budget by $150,000 and adding $50,000 for communications is more of a priority than helping low-income households avoid oil spills.”

The cut to the program also amounts to another broken promise from Stephen McNeil’s government. On August 28, just six days after the $1.5 million expansion to EHAP was announced McNeil promised he’d keep all spending commitments made by the previous government in the summer of 2013.

Said McNeil at the time, “I think there’s an unwritten rule, quite frankly, that incoming governments need to honour a commitment made by previous governments that communities have counted on, that businesses have counted on, that families have counted on.”

Zann says the Liberals just aren’t committed to doing what’s fair for communities and families.

“There are over 200,000 homes in Nova Scotia that heat with oil, and even a minor oil spill can cost tens of thousands of dollars to clean,” said Zann. “This was a wise investment in our environment that would have saved Nova Scotian’s millions of dollars. The Liberals really should have put more thought into their decision to cancel this funding.”