The Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN), a joint program of the Canadian Environmental Law Association and Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, is pleased that the Government of Ontario announced on Friday, October 19, 2023 that it is raising the income eligibility thresholds that enable Ontarians to qualify for the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) by up to 35 percent. OESP is a critical piece of Ontario’s energy affordability framework. The higher income eligibility thresholds will begin on March 1, 2024.
OESP works to reduce the cost of electricity for low-income households by applying a monthly credit directly on to electricity bills.
The amount of the credit to be applied is determined by the number of people living in a home as well as the household’s combined income. The current income thresholds cap income eligibility at $28,000 for one-person households and $52,000 for five-person households. The new income eligibility thresholds, which will be in effect beginning March 1, 2024, will allow many more families to access the program.
|$38,000 or less||$45||$45||$51||$57||$63||$75||$75|
|$38,001 to $54,000||$40||$45||$51||$57||$63||$75|
|$54,001 to $65,000||$35||$40||$45||$51||$57|
|$65,001 to $71,000||$35||$40||$45|
In addition, higher energy intensive on-bill credits are available for those consumers who use electric heating, use certain medical devices that use a lot of electricity, or are Indigenous/living with Indigenous family members. The charts below highlight the new income eligibility thresholds for these eligible energy intensive consumers, also in effect on March 1, 2024.
Household Size (energy intensive – new income thresholds, effective on March 1, 2024):
|$38,000 or less||$68||$68||$75||$83||$90||$113||$113|
|$38,001 to $54,000||$60||$68||$75||$83||$90||$113|
|$54,001 to $65,000||$52||$60||$68||$75||$83|
|$65,001 to $71,000||$52||$60||$68|
Along with this positive improvement to the program, LIEN is advocating for other Ontario energy affordability programs to similarly expand their income eligibility requirements, most notably the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program – Emergency Financial Assistance (LEAP EFA).
And as energy poverty continues to be a growing concern in Ontario, LIEN recommends the following next steps:
- The amount of OESP per month, per eligible consumer or family, should be reviewed to ensure the credit amount is meeting the needs of lower-income Ontarians as energy prices continue to soar.
- On-bill support programs should be expanded to include lower-income consumers relying on other fuel sources, such as natural gas, wood, propane, and oil.
With OESP support now available to more people, LIEN strongly encourages all eligible people to apply.