Question Period: Job Losses in Energy Sector – May 14, 2015

Mr. Coon: NB Power has contracted with a Toronto-based company to deliver its soon-to-be announced home insulation program. Four New Brunswick businesses provided energy evaluation services under the late, great Efficiency NB’s home retrofit program. Energy advisers who have been building careers in the energy efficiency services industry have been laid off across the province. Local energy efficiency businesses have had to shut down here. Meanwhile, in Nova Scotia, the energy efficiency industry directly provides 1 200 full-time jobs. Can the minister responsible for NB Power tell this House how many New Brunswickers have been put out of work by hiring this Toronto-based company to deliver NB Power’s new home insulation program?

Hon. Mr. Arseneault: I thank the member opposite for the question. I would encourage him not to fearrmonger by saying that people are being put out of their jobs. That is not the case. There are many programs that the efficiency division actually provides to New Brunswickers. Various companies actually provide that work on behalf of NB Power now. The company in question went through a tendering process, a very open and transparent tendering process that was done by the Department of Government Services, and it won the contract, but that did not take away any work from other companies, as the member opposite has mentioned.

Mr. Coon: The minister should mention that to the people who have lost their jobs in the companies that  have shut down. One of the mandates of NB Power, which it took over from Efficiency NB, is to promote the development of the energy efficiency services industry to create jobs in New Brunswick.

Under Efficiency NB’s retrofit program, there was enough work to keep four local energy evaluation companies going. Many of those have shut down. Homeowners had the choice  at that time of whom to hire. It was not specified. They just had to be licensed under the national EnerGuide Program, through Natural Resources Canada, which provided technical support.

Now, we have a Toronto-based firm that will be the sole provider of the home energy audits required to be eligible for NB Power’s insulation grants, and it is not even required to be accredited by the national EnerGuide Program. It has been eliminated. How does this grow the energy efficiency services industry in New Brunswick?

Hon. Mr. Arseneault: I can assure the member opposite that the company in question that he is talking about is not going to be the sole provider of efficiency programs in New Brunswick. I have talked to the companies that he assumes are going to close shop. I have talked to those companies. They are not going to close shop. They are actually still doing work that they have contracted under the other efficiency programs that we offer to New Brunswickers.

I would encourage the member opposite not to fearmonger by saying that these companies are going to shut their doors. They are still working to provide energy efficiency services to the province. They continue to do that work. The company from Ontario which you speak of went through a very public, transparent tendering process. It is a small contract of the many contracts that we have out there to provide efficiency programs in New Brunswick.

Mr. Coon: Efficiency NB required our local energy auditors to use the federal energy guide for

houses program and its HOT2000 home assessment software to recommend efficiency

improvements to our homes and heating systems. That is the standard used across Canada, and it has a stellar international reputation. It generated a score for your home before and after the energy efficiency upgrades. Years of training and investment in partnership with Natural Resources Canada on the EnerGuide Program have now been thrown away, just as Efficiency NB was thrown away.

Can the minister explain why NB Power has ditched the EnerGuide Program and the confidence that it provided to homeowners that they were getting sound technical advice on upgrading their homes from a nationally acclaimed program?

L’hon. M. Arseneault : Encore une fois, je remercie le député du Parti vert pour sa question.

Par contre, ce qu’il avance, ce ne sont pas les faits ; cela ne reflète pas ce qui se passe réellement. Le député nous dit qu’une compagnie a obtenu un contrat suite à un processus ouvert et transparent. Il ne s’agit pas d’un gros contrat, mais cette entreprise va offrir des services pour ce qui est des programmes d’Efficacité NB.

Je peux assurer au député du Parti vert ainsi qu’aux autres parlementaires que les compagnies qui donnent des services présentement pour les programmes d’Efficacité NB vont continuer à le faire, car les contrats qui sont en place vont être honorés. Ce qui est important, c’est que nous avons un gouvernement qui investit dans les programmes d’Efficacité NB. En février, l’an dernier, l’ancien gouvernement conservateur a sabré tous les programmes d’Efficacité NB qui étaient destinés aux gens de la province. Notre gouvernement investit dans les programmes d’Efficacité NB, et je suis très fier de faire partie du gouvernement Gallant, qui investit dans de tels programmes.

Mr. Speaker: Time, minister.


May 14, 2015 Not finalized / Non finalisé le 14 mai 2015