Nfld. & Labrador

Home rebate program could expand to $35M after heavy demand from homeowners

The provincial government's residential rebate program drew nearly 12,000 applications from homeowners to save on renovation projects this year.

About 36% of applicants have received their cheque, says finance minister

The province's residential rebate program for new homes and renovations could expand to nearly $35 million due to the demand from homeowners. (Reuters)

The provincial government's renovation rebate program drew nearly 12,000 applications from homeowners to save on home projects this year, the finance minister says.

That success has prompted the department to consider a second round of applications.

Former finance minister Tom Osborne launched the program to stimulate the economy and bolster the construction industry in a year when most sectors have struggled amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The program's funding was initially set at $30 million. Finance Minister Siobhan Coady told CBC Radio's On The Go it could go as high as $35 million.

Despite about 100 people inside the provincial government working to administer the program, Coady said there have been delays in approvals and sending out cheques.

"About 85 per cent of those people have received their pre-approvals.… About 36 per cent of the people who have rebates ready for review and going out have received their cheque," Coady said Friday. 

"That's about well over a thousand people have received their cheque back already. But it's a bit of a process and we have to make sure we're doing the right things right."

The deadline for applications was August. Coady said if people have gotten a pre-approval they should expect to receive their money. According to a government media release, approximately 9,000 applications have been pre-approved so far. 

Program expansion

Because the program has been so successful and because of the vast number of applications, Coady said, the provincial government has decided to expand the program because of the demand. This means if someone is still waiting to be pre-approved, they could still see some assistance, said Coady. 

Coady also said the March 30 deadline to have renovations completed has been extended to the end of June. 

Finance Minister Siobhan Coady says the program drew nearly 12,000 applications. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

"Because the deadline was at the end of August [for application], and because there's such demand for the program, we've actually increased the dollar value available," she said. 

Coady said government has learned a lot of lessons along the way, and the program may come back again with a better and more streamlined process. 

"There's a queue, there's a lineup of people waiting for their cheques [to come] back. We're moving through them as quickly as possible," she said. "We've got over 100 people involved in trying to get these cheques out in the mail. I'm hoping this will happen in a timely fashion."

Coady said data from the program is being analyzed, and the provincial government will be able to decipher how much money is coming back in terms of incremental gross domestic product and incremental labour compensation. 

"We know, for example, that this will generate well over $30 million in incremental GDP. We know there's a big component of that in labour compensation, so we know there's a big stimulus going into the economy," she said.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador 

With files from On The Go

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