A few different topics for this week’s MP report, so stick with me!
One of the questions that I have received from many of you pertains to the very popular ecoENERGY retrofit program. In particular many homeowners were interested to learn when the 2011 ecoENERGY program applications would be available. I am pleased to report back that the ecoENERGY program applications are now available online at www.ecoaction.gc.ca/homes or call 1-800-O-Canada (800-622-6232). I strongly encourage interested citizens to act quickly to take advantage of this program.
For those of you unfamiliar with the ecoENERGY program, homeowners are eligible to receive grants of up to $5,000 to make their homes more energy-efficient. To date roughly a quarter million homeowners are paying less and helping to conserve energy at the same time. In addition the ecoENERGY program has also helped to generate over $ four billion in economic activity and has assisted many homeowners in not just lowering energy costs but also helping to increase home equity. Please note that there have been some changes to the 2011 eco ENERGY from previous years including a new requirement for participants to register directly with the program prior to booking a pre-retrofit evaluation.
Another concern that I have heard from some citizens about is in regards to a recent tax compliance initiative by the United States government. The United State Internal Revenue Service has indicated that it will begin to enforce requirements that American citizens residing outside of the United States provide more detailed financial information on an annual basis. This enforcement would also apply to US Citizens holding joint citizenship with other countries including Canada. As a result of this intended enforcement action, a number of different but important concerns have been passed on to me in particular from those in the banking and financial services community. Late last week the IRS announced that it will delay this enforcement action until 2014. Our Federal Minister of Finance, Hon. Jim Flaherty is also aware of these concerns and has committed to working with the American Government to find a workable solution for all involved.
I have previously stated in my reports that Ottawa may be only 3000 km or so away, but sometimes to the people of Okanagan-Coquihalla it can feel more like 30,000 km. This makes it all the more important for Federal, Provincial and Municipal elected officials to work together with local community groups to make sure our priorities are reflective of the people we serve. In a recent meeting that I attended, it was refreshing to meet with Mayor & council, representatives from the chamber of commerce, economic development committee and a broad spectrum of not for profits who were able to brief me on the various initiatives they have undertaken. It says a lot about a community when you have sixteen volunteers willing to take several hours out of their busy day in order to meet and collectively work on a project that will be of benefit to their community. Meetings like these will become increasingly more important as we seek to balance our Federal budget in 2014, while addressing our communities needs, not its wants. To do otherwise may leave a greater burden of debt to our children and grandchildren. That is not only untenable but unacceptable. We must work together on common challenges while recognizing that there is only one taxpayer and to focus on priorities. Our children and our country deserve nothing less.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.