Ontario premier-elect Doug Ford, who earlier this week canceled the Green Ontario (GreenON) window rebate program, announced today that he will extend it until the end of October to allow customers who recently purchased windows to have their orders filled.

“We’re going to fulfill those commitments,” Ford said at a press conference. “No one’s going to lose any money. We’re going to move that to the end of October to make sure no one loses anything.”

The rebate program was canceled this week as the Progressive Conservative party  prepares to take power in Ontario. Ford has pulled the province out of a cap-and-trade market that funded the GreenON program. On Thursday, Ford said  the rebate program had spent its annual budget from the tax in just two months.

“They allocated $76 million for this program for the whole year,” he said. “They blew through it in two months. So they came back to us and said ‘we just blew through $76 million of the taxpayers’ money in two months, and by the way, we want another $224 million out of each and every one of your pockets.’ We ran on ending the cap and trade, reducing gas prices by 10 cents a liter, ending the carbon tax — the worst tax Canada has ever seen. It hurts jobs, it hurts families, it hurts businesses. But, for the people who have already invested, we’re going to fulfill that commitment so that no one loses any money at all.”

Originally, homeowners were going to be able to get cash back for upgrades if they submitted a rebate application by September 30, 2018 for work that’s contracted to be completed by August 31, 2018. Now, they’ll have until November 30 to submit rebate applications for work to be finished by October 31.

Because replacement windows are custom-made,  lead times can be anywhere from 15 to 20 weeks. That could have left a lot of customers in the lurch, especially with the crush of Ontario homeowners ordering upgrades because of the rebate.

While the extension will help, some in Ontario’s door and window industry say they need even more time to clear the huge backlog of orders.

“Mr. Ford, I am asking you to extend the completed installation date requirement to give us a chance to complete what we started back in January,” said Michael Braby, the president of Aaben Windows & Doors in Kingston, Ontario. “This should not be a political issue. This should be an integrity issue. Let me phrase it this way:  If a small business, or any size business for that matter, is purchased and is under new ownership, you would expect that the new ownership honors the signed contracts already in place.  That’s simple common sense. Consumers across this province entered into contracts with window installation companies and GreenON in good faith expecting rebates for a portion of their purchases.  You, as ‘new ownership,’ need to honor these contracts and commitments made by ‘previous ownership.'”

Jimm Fox, the marketing director for Nordik Windows and other brands sold in the Toronto and Ottawa areas, told the Toronto Star  that Ontario’s door and window business is worth about $1 billion annually.

Fenestration Canada issued a statement lamenting the loss of the GreenON program, noting that it has the potential to do real damage to Canada’s door and window industry.

“We are saddened to see the program go,” the statement reads. “Climate change is a going to be our toughest challenge as a race and differing action will only compound the problem. The GreenON rebate programs addressed real gaps in the aging existing housing stock; addressing the building envelope first.
While not perfect, the program was to be transformative for the industry in that it called for certified high-performance windows installed by certified personnel. The problem with pulling the plug on such a program is that it will lead to layoffs in the near future. This instability makes it harder for manufacturers to keep their workforce and will lead to an economic slowdown in the sector and a resurgence of the underground economy.

“The abruptness of the cancellation will leave a lot of consumers high and dry. We urge the incoming government to review their position and extend the phase-out period at the very least the end of 2018. This will allow for those already in the queue for products and services to receive them.

“Windows are not off-the-shelf products, unlike other products available under the GreenOn rebate program. In the window manufacturing and installation Industry, production lead times and certified crew scheduling is often much longer than the very short phase-out period that has been allotted. October 31 is certainly an improvement on August 31 but it is still nowhere near long enough to clear the queue and wind-up the program.

“As this rise and fall of this program demonstrates, instability in the marketplace is not good for business. Fenestration Canada advocates for a permanent deep energy retrofit tax credit. This will bring much more stability to the marketplace while keeping the underground economy at bay; ensuring consumers receive quality products and installation of energy retrofit projects.”

GreenON first announced the rebates in mid-December. It promised up to $500 per rough opening up to a maximum of $5,000 for windows rated Energy Star Most Efficient. The rebate did not include doors, such as sliding glass patio doors. It also covers items such as thermostats and heat pumps.

GreenON is part of the province’s Climate Change Action Plan, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 15 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Ontario’s cap-and-trade carbon market auctions raised more than $1.9 billion in 2017, according to the CBC.

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