Federal Energy Rebates

Bill C-66, The Energy Costs Assistance Act, received Royal Assent on November 25, 2005 and came into force on that same date.

Part 1 of the enactment authorizes the making of payments to families who are eligible for the National Child Benefit Supplement, and to seniors who are eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement and Allowance under the Old Age Security Act, in order to deliver one-time relief for energy costs in January 2006. ("Energy Cost Benefit" or "ECB")

Like the Relief for Heating Expenses (RHE) Tax Credit of 2000, the Energy Cost Benefit is a one-time payment being provided the lowest-income segment of the Canadian population to assist them with the effects of high energy costs. The RHE was available as a one time payment to anyone who received the GST credit. Current GST credits are paid to individuals with income levels of less than $27,749.

The Energy Cost Benefit targets low-income families and seniors, based on their 2004 income, by linking the payment to recipients of the National Child Benefit Supplement, which phases out at income levels of $32,000, a recent increase, and to recipients of the Guaranteed Income Supplement and Allowance which phases out at similar levels.

Section 2 of the Act provides for a $250 payment per family receiving the National Child Benefit Supplement.

Section 3 of the Act provides for a $125 payment to single seniors or a $250 payment to senior couples, all of whom must be receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

It is the view of the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy that the ECB should be treated as if it were excluded from 'property of the bankrupt' divisible amongst the creditors, and should, as a matter of social policy, be given to the recipient bankrupt to offset costs of this necessary living expense. Because the rebate is a one-time occurrence and is not a recurring payment, the OSB is responding by issuance of this position statement, as opposed to dealing with the matter by means of regulation.