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  • CARST is calling on the Manitoba Government to help Manitobans protect themselves from Lung Cancer and remove the interest rate on the cost of radon mitigation under the Energy Finance program

CARST is calling on the Manitoba Government to help Manitobans protect themselves from Lung Cancer and remove the interest rate on the cost of radon mitigation under the Energy Finance program

21 Jan 2021 11:30 AM | Pam Warkentin (Administrator)

For Immediate Release

WINNIPEG, January 21, 2021 - In light of Saskatchewan’s recent announcement of a tax credit which includes radon mitigation.  The Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (CARST) calls for the Manitoba government to improve accessibility to their existing radon mitigation program where high interest rates discourage uptake. Under Manitoba’s Energy Finance Plan, homeowners can borrow up to $5,000 at an interest rate of 6.75% to install a radon mitigation system, but CARST is concerned that this program doesn’t incentivize homeowners and unjustly impacts those with lower incomes. “For a government focused on health equity, the interest rate is a glaring obstacle - homeowners with less financial means will ultimately pay more to reduce their risk of lung cancer.” says, Pam Warkentin, Executive Director of CARST.

“Congratulations to our Saskatchewan neighbours on taking steps to make radon mitigation more accessible.  Manitoba has a great opportunity to respond with adjusting an existing program into something which would be a game changer for those in lower income households already struggling with home expenses.” says Neil Johnston, President and CEO, of The Lung Association, Manitoba.

Manitoba is a known radon hotspot with 1 in 5 homes across the province, and in some regions, 1 in 2 homes testing above Health Canada’s radon action level. With levels this high, it is in public and government interest to make radon mitigation easy and accessible for all Manitobans. CARST urges the first step is removing the interest rate on the existing program, a rebate would also be helpful.

A recent report by Take Action on Radon, a national awareness initiative funded by Health Canada, found radon mitigation costs in Manitoba and Saskatchewan range from $1,400 to $4,100 depending on home characteristics.

As part of their Energy Finance Plan Manitoba Hydro currently allows this expense to be financed for up to 5 years, which in theory is helpful for homeowners, but in practice is not financially viable for all Manitobans. At a time when the Bank of Canada has announced its priority to maintain low interest rates to help the Canadian Economy as well as stating that, “Canada’s economic recovery will continue to require extraordinary monetary policy support.” Such a high interest rate seems inappropriate given our current environment.

Under Manitoba’s Energy Finance Plan program, a $4,100 radon mitigation system costs homeowners nearly $140 extra per year in interest, which could amount to over $700 of additional costs over the 5 year period. In contrast, the newly announced Saskatchewan program returns $430 back to homeowners as a tax credit from the cost of the same radon mitigation system.  “The current framework means that the Manitoban Government, through Manitoba Hydro, is earning interest and revenue off measures Manitobans are taking to protect their health.” states Warkentin.

CARST is calling on the Manitoba Government to rectify this error in health equity and remove the interest rate on the cost of radon mitigation under the Energy Finance program.

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For media inquiries, please contact:

Pam Warkentin, Executive Director

Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (CARST)

204-798-9649

p_warkentin@carst.ca


Additional Information:

Saskatchewan’s Home Renovation Tax Credit allows homeowners to claim a 10.5 % tax credit of up to $20,000 of eligible home renovation expenses. The eligible expenses include the cost of labour, professional services, and the building materials required for radon reduction measures.

Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the ground and can reach high levels in buildings that Health Canada considers to be dangerous. Canadian conditions in winter resulting in a need to tighten our homes against the weather as well as measures to increase energy efficiency in our homes, can further result in increasing radon levels.  Manitoba is a known hotspot for radon with 1 in 5 homes across the province and in some regions 1 in 2 homes testing above Health Canada’s action level.  The Manitoba government has recognized for decades that Manitobans have a significantly higher risk of this deadly gas then residents of other provinces.  How many Manitobans will die from this preventable cancer before the government will take clear action?

References:

Manitoba Hydro Energy Finance Plan: https://www.hydro.mb.ca/your_home/loans_financing/energy_finance_plan/

Bank of Canada:

https://www.bankofcanada.ca/2020/12/fad-press-release-2020-12-09/#:~:text=The%20Bank%20of%20Canada%20today,deposit%20rate%20at%20%C2%BC%20percent.

Take Action on Radon, Radon Reduction Sweepstakes Report, 2018-2019:

https://takeactiononradon.ca/radon-reduction-sweepstakes-report-2018-2019/

Health Canada’s Cross-Country Survey of Homes:

Health Canada’s Cross-Country Survey of Homes

Saskatchewan Lung Association information on the Tax Credit:

https://www.lungsask.ca/about-us/news-room/news/2021/01/lung-association-partnership-take-action-radon-coalition-commends

Saskatchewan Home Renovation Tax Credit:

https://www.saskatchewan.ca/residents/taxes-and-investments/tax-credits/home-renovation-tax-credit


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