VANCOUVER | TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORIES OF THE xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (MUSQUEAM), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (SQUAMISH) AND səlilwətaɬ (TSLEIL-WAUTUTH) FIRST NATIONS — As countries worldwide grapple with rising energy costs and volatile fossil fuel prices, a David Suzuki Foundation report identifies the challenges of living with energy poverty in Canada and offers solutions to support those who need it.

The report, “Keeping the Lights On: Ensuring energy affordability, equity and access in the transition to clean electricity in Canada,” finds that people in Canada are struggling to meet their energy needs. Energy poverty occurs when households have difficulty or cannot attain necessary and adequate home energy services such as space and water heating, cooling, lighting and use of appliances. Almost one in 10 Canadian households spends more than 10 per cent of income on energy bills.

“People are going without heating or cooling in their homes here in Canada,” said report co-author Runa Das. “This has real-world impacts on people’s health and quality of life. It’s a justice issue that we should all care about and work to address.”

People in Canada are struggling more than ever to afford their energy bills due to rising inflation and spikes in fossil fuel prices.

Solutions from the report to address energy poverty as we transition to clean electricity include:

  • Launching a national strategy to eliminate energy poverty in Canada
  • Free heat pumps and water heaters, and other low-cost or no-cost energy-efficiency programs for low- and middle-income people
  • Lower electricity rates and on-bill credits for low- and middle-income people
  • A ban on electricity disconnections during all seasons for those who cannot afford to pay their bills
  • Plus, a suite of other complementary measures to ensure no one is left behind.

“This issue has gone unaddressed for too long in Canada. The report brings forward solutions that policy-makers can apply now,” said Stephen Thomas, climate solutions policy analyst with the David Suzuki Foundation. “As we prepare for a broader transition to affordable, reliable, clean electricity, we must also offer direct supports to those struggling with energy poverty to make sure no one is left behind.”

The good news is that overall energy costs will go down for all income categories as we move more of our energy needs to clean electricity. But low- and middle-income people living in energy poverty already need direct supports without delay.

“Households that currently face energy poverty may continue to do so if the distribution of costs and benefits in the electricity transition are not properly addressed,” said report co-author Mari Martiskainen. “We have solutions and case studies we can bring to Canada that have worked in other jurisdictions. This work can begin right now to ensure affordability and access to those who need it most.”

Many countries, like Canada, still lack a formal definition of energy poverty but recognize it in some way. The report authors advocate that accessible and affordable energy needs to be seen as a right for everyone living in Canada.

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Theresa Beer, 778-874-3396,


  • Canadian households in energy poverty spend almost five times more of their budgets on energy services than households not in energy poverty.
  • Low incomes, geographical location, housing conditions (including energy efficiency and fuel source) and housing costs are some of the reasons for energy poverty. And there are big differences across regions.
  • Almost 19 per cent of households living in energy poverty are in the Atlantic provinces, which make up only eight per cent of Canada’s population.