Frequently asked questions: Climate Action Incentive Fund Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises Project stream

Questions and answers posted at program launch, on July 17, 2019

1. Why is CAIF programming only available in certain provinces?

In October 2016, the Government of Canada announced the Pan-Canadian Approach to Pricing Carbon Pollution, which gave provinces and territories the flexibility to implement their own carbon pollution pricing systems, as long as they met minimum federal criteria. The federal government also committed to implementing a federal carbon pollution pricing system in provinces and territories that request it or do not have a carbon pollution pricing system that meets those criteria. 

The federal fuel charge came into effect on April 1, 2019, in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick. The Government of Canada committed to return the vast majority of the direct proceeds collected from the federal fuel charge directly to individuals and families in those provinces through Climate Action Incentive payments. The remainder of the proceeds  will be distributed through programming, primarily through the Climate Action Incentive Fund (CAIF), which will provide support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), municipalities, universities, colleges, schools, and hospitals (MUSH sector), and not-for-profit organizations (NFPs) in the province from which the proceeds were collected. 

2. Will CAIF programming be available in additional provinces and territories?

CAIF will return a portion of the proceeds collected through the federal carbon pricing system back to the jurisdictions that have not implemented a carbon pricing system that met the federal criteria and did not request the federal system (i.e. SK, MB, ON, and NB).

As indicated in the letter sent in December 2017 by Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, Catherine McKenna, and Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, to provinces and territories, there will be an annual verification process to ensure carbon pollution pricing systems continue to meet the federal benchmark stringency requirements. Major changes to provincial and territorial systems will also be monitored on an ongoing basis.

If a province or territory changes its approach to pricing carbon pollution, the approach will be assessed against the federal benchmark stringency requirements.  The results of that assessment would inform the Government of Canada’s decision on application of the federal system in that jurisdiction and how proceeds are returned.

3. Can I apply for more than one funding stream under CAIF? 

You may apply for funding under multiple CAIF streams if you are eligible to apply under more than one. However, there can be no overlap in funding support for any given product or piece of equipment across the different streams. For example, if you have requested funding support to purchase an ENERGY STAR certified water heater when applying under the SME project stream, you may not request funding support for the same piece of equipment under a different CAIF funding stream, even if the equipment is also listed as an eligible expenditure.

4. Who is eligible to apply for the CAIF SME Project stream?

To be eligible, applicants  must be an incorporated small- or medium-sized enterprise (with fewer than 500 employees), operating in one of the eligible provinces (Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Ontario).

5. What types of projects does the CAIF SME Project stream fund?

CAIF SME Project stream provides funding support to projects that help eligible applicants reduce their energy use, costs, and/or greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To be considered for funding, projects must be located in one of the eligible provinces and request between $20,000 and $250,000 of funding towards eligible costs. ECCC reserves the right to make decisions on final selection based on other considerations. For more information on eligible project categories and activities, please refer to Section 5 in the Applicant Guide.

6. Can I submit more than one application under the SME Project stream?

The CAIF SME Project stream only accepts one application per project location in each round of funding. If you have business operations in various locations within an eligible province and you wish to undertake a retrofit project in more than one of these locations, you must submit a separate application for each location. Each applicant business can submit up to five (5) applications for individual projects and request up to a maximum total of $250,000 of CAIF funding. For example, you can submit one application for one project requesting $250,000 for one location, or you can submit five (5) applications requesting $50,000 for five project locations and up to a maximum of $250,000 in each eligible province.

7. Can my application include multiple locations/sites?

The CAIF SME Project stream only accepts one application per each project location. If you wish to apply for funding to support standalone projects that are located at multiple sites in one of the eligible provinces, you can submit up to five (5) applications using the same business number. However, note that the total sum requested by the same applicant cannot exceed the cap of $250,000 in each eligible province.

8. Can eligible applicants that applied to the Low Carbon Economy Fund also apply for a new project through the CAIF SME Project stream?

Note that the answer to this question has been revised as of September 6, 2019.

Yes, SMEs can apply for funding from both the Low Carbon Economy Fund (LCEF) and CAIF. However, in order to respect LCEF program parameters, if the funding is requested for the same project, the total amount of funding requested from both programs cannot exceed 25% of the total eligible costs for the project, as submitted under the LCEF.

9. I am the lead applicant for my organization. How do I grant other members of my business access to the application?

In order to grant others access to the Application, the lead applicant will require a GCKey and Single Window Information Management System (SWIM) profile and will need to ensure the other members also have their own GCKey and SWIM profile that is connected to the same business.

The lead applicant can then navigate to the ‘Organizational Privileges’ tab of the left navigation menu where they can modify user permissions by selecting a user and the associated privilege level of that individual. When done, click ‘Add’.

The lead applicant can also navigate within an application to the ‘Application Permissions’ tab of the left navigation menu to modify user permissions by selecting a user and the associated privilege level of that individual. When done, click ‘Add’.

Click on the following links for additional guidance on using SWIM and creating a GCKey.

10. I am the lead applicant for my business. How do I grant my consultant or partner organization access to the application?

In order to grant your partner access to the Application, the lead applicant must ensure the partner also has a GCKey and a SWIM profile and is connected to an organization.

If your partner does not already have one, they will need to create a GCKey and SWIM profile and connect their profile to an organization.

The lead applicant can then navigate to the ‘Application Permissions’ tab of the left navigation menu from within an application.  From there the lead applicant is able to add a partner by clicking “Add Partner User”.

A unique token will be generated that can be shared with the partner, who can redeem it at the bottom of the application home page to gain access to your business’ application.

Click on the following links for additional guidance on using SWIM and creating a GCKey.

11. Can I call or meet with a program officer to discuss specific questions about my project? 

For general program questions (e.g., eligibility criteria and program parameters), you may contact Service Canada at 1-800-622-6232. For any technical issues related to website functionality and access (e.g., GCKey and Single Window Information Manager), please contact ec.fiacsoutienti-caifitsupport.ec@canada.ca. Under normal circumstances, you can expect to hear back from us within five (5) business days.

12. Can I provide additional information or make changes to my proposal after I submitted my application?

No. You will not be able to make changes to your proposal once you submit your application. Please consult the Applicant Guide to ensure you have provided all the necessary information related to your proposed project, or your application will be deemed incomplete.  This will enable us to make decisions quickly, to the benefit of all applicants.

13. How will applications be selected for funding?

Applications will be assessed and selected on a first come, first served basis, as per the program’s eligibility requirements. Project selection may also take into account geographic considerations and prioritization for certain business types and industry sectors. As such, funding for certain types of applicants and/or projects may be exhausted before the application process closes.

14. How much is the Government of Canada going to contribute to individual projects?

The federal contribution per project and per applicant under the SME Project stream will be more than $20,000 and up to a maximum of $250,000 (i.e. up to 25% of eligible project costs) in each eligible province.

For SMEs with a franchise agreement with a franchisor, the $250,000 funding cap will be applied to the collective of applicant franchisees who operate under the same franchise trade name.

15. Can in-kind contributions be counted towards a project's total cost? If so, what proportion would be acceptable?

Under the CAIF SME Project stream, in-kind contributions cannot be counted towards the project’s total eligible costs or towards an applicant’s total contribution.  

16. My project is being partially funded by a provincial body. Is the project still eligible to receive funds from CAIF?

Yes, funds provided by other levels of government can be used to fund project costs and count towards cost-sharing calculations.

17. I own a multi-unit residential building and would like to apply for SME Project stream funding in order to retrofit the building. Am I eligible to apply?

If you are an incorporated SME that rents apartments, you are eligible to apply for funding support under the SME Project stream, provided you meet all the other eligibility requirements referenced in the Applicant Guide.  

18. I own a business (e.g. restaurant) in a multi-use building that includes several residential apartments on the top floors, am I still eligible to apply under the SME Project stream?  

Yes, you are still eligible to apply provided that your business is in a building where a single residence does not comprise the majority of the building’s floor space. For example, if the building’s total floor space is 372 sq. metres (4,000 sq. feet), any single residence found in that building must be less than 186 sq. metres (2,000 sq. feet) in order for your project to be considered eligible.

19. I own a restaurant franchise that is under a license agreement with a franchisor. Do I need to work with my franchisor to apply?

No. Individual franchisees with fewer than 500 employees and operating in one of the eligible provinces can apply directly. However, the $250,000 funding cap applies collectively to all applicants under the same franchise trade name in each eligible province. ECCC will review all applications from applicants that fall under the same franchise trade name to ensure the funding cap of $250,000 per province is not exceeded.

20. Can you define incurred costs? Would deposits made prior to the funding agreement qualify as eligible expenditures?

An incurred cost refers to an expense that is owing and for which an invoice has been issued. Deposits associated with eligible activities and costs would qualify as eligible expenditures prior to the funding agreement. Eligible project expenditures must be incurred, and paid between the date of the approval-in-principle notification you received from ECCC and the end date of your project, which cannot be later than March 31, 2021. As evidence of costs incurred and paid, successful applicants may be asked to provide copies of invoices, payment receipts (such as cash receipts), and/or copies of cashed cheques.

21. Will successful applicants receive the full amount of funding requested in their application?

The maximum federal funding will be up to 25% of total eligible expenditures and will be detailed in the funding agreement.  Federal funding will be made towards eligible expenditures directly related to approved projects.

22. Once my project has been approved for funding, how are the funds disbursed?

Following project completion, successful applicants will be required to submit their claims, including receipts and invoices and/or any other relevant documentation to ECCC for eligible expenditures incurred and paid during the timeframe of their project. Eligible expenditures will only be reimbursed by ECCC subject to signing of the funding agreement, and meeting its conditions.

23. Are ongoing projects eligible for funding under CAIF’s SME Project stream?

No, applicants cannot apply for funding under the CAIF’s SME Project stream if they have already started their project.

24. How do I know if my project requires an Environmental Assessment under Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012)?

Some projects in Canada require an environmental assessment in order to comply with the CEAA 2012. If your project involves certain types of ‘physical activities’ (e.g. construction, expansion, operation, decommissioning or abandonment of facilities in the industrial sector) or is expected to cause environmental effects, you may need to complete an environmental assessment. Determination of the requirement for an Environmental Assessment will generally occur prior to the approval-in-principle notification though some exceptions may apply to more complex situations.

Under CEAA 2012, the “environmental effects” of concern of federal jurisdiction are:

  • effects on fish and fish habitat, shellfish and their habitat, crustaceans and their habitat, marine animals and their habitat, marine plants, migratory birds, and federal lands;
  • effects that cross provincial or international boundaries; and,
  • changes to the environment that affect Aboriginal peoples, such as their use of lands and resources for traditional purposes

To check whether your project may trigger an environmental assessment, you can consult the list of physical activities listed in the Regulations Designating Physical Activities.

Note that the information above only applies to federal environmental assessments; applicants are responsible for ensuring compliance to provincial or municipal requirements, as applicable.

25. How do I know if Indigenous Peoples need to be engaged or consulted about my project? What role is my enterprise expected to play in Indigenous consultations?

Third parties, including an SME proposing a project, do not have a legal obligation to consult Indigenous Peoples. The duty to consult is an obligation that rests with the Government of Canada and is triggered only if ECCC has identified that the proposed project might adversely impact constitutionally protected aboriginal and treaty rights. In order to ensure that those affected are properly notified, consulted and, where required, accommodated, applicants will generally be notified of the duty to consult prior to any approval-in-principle, though some exceptions may apply to more complex situations. These rights include, but are not limited to, the right to hunt, fish, and practice traditional activities and ceremonies.

In the unlikely situation where the duty to consult is triggered by a project proposed under the SME project stream, ECCC may rely on assistance from the applicant in carrying out procedural elements of this obligation. For example, giving notice of their projects, holding meetings, gathering and sharing information and developing measures to address potential impacts on Aboriginal and treaty rights as well as on the interests of Indigenous Peoples. Project-related consultation activities arising as a result of the Government of Canada’s legal duty to consult are eligible expenditures under this stream.

26. Can you provide an example of a project that would require an environmental impact assessment and consultations with Indigenous Peoples?

A manufacturer would like to retrofit and expand one of its plants to improve production while also reduce GHG emissions. The plant is located 8 km outside of the nearest town, and 2 km from a First Nation community. The plant currently draws water from a river located 400m from the plant. The permit to take water predates any environmental impact assessment regulations. The expansion of the plant would more than double its size, ‎the footprint of the plant would encroach further to the river, and additional water may be required for production.

This river supports two species of fish in adjacent streams; one is a species at risk. The potential alteration to this species' habitat requires a federal environmental assessment of the project's potential effects on this species at risk. As the project location is within the First Nation's traditional territory, where they practice traditional activities, including fishing, the duty to consult would also be triggered.

27. Will the Government of Canada be undertaking audits on any or all of the successful projects? 

The Government of Canada may audit projects funded under this program for verification of activities, location, or for any other reason related to the agreement between Canada and successful applicants. If a successful applicant has been selected for an audit, they will be notified in advance. Audits will be designed to limit the administrative burden placed on applicants to the extent possible.

28. What are my obligations once the project has been funded?

Successful applicants will be required to submit progress reports, outlining progress and results for the duration of the funding agreement. Frequency and reporting requirements will be outlined in the funding agreement.

29. How long will successful applicants need to report back on projects that receive funding? 

The schedule and frequency for reporting will be shared with successful applicants when they are invited to sign funding agreements. The last report is expected to be in the months after the estimated program end date of March 31, 2021.

30. What obligations do I have to the Government of Canada after project completion?

Successful applicants will be required to submit final documentation after the end of their project. This includes a final report and an attestation that their project has been completed, and that funds have been spent on eligible expenditures.

Questions and answers posted the week of August 5, 2019

31. How much funding will be available per round?

The CAIF SME Project stream will recycle a portion of the proceeds from the first year of carbon pricing revenue (2019-20) in federal backstop jurisdictions over two years. The SME Project stream will be offered in multiple rounds and this guide refers specifically to the Summer 2019 round where approximately half of the available 2019-20 funding will be allocated. Applicants will have until the end of the second fiscal year to implement their project (March 31, 2021).

Updates on additional rounds of funding will be provided as they become available.

The following table shows the estimated total amount of proceeds that will be collected through the federal carbon pricing system in 2019-20 and returned to the jurisdictions of origin through the SME Project stream.

Jurisdiction

Funding in 2019-2020

Saskatchewan

$21,300,000

Manitoba

$9,300,000

Ontario

$72,400,000

New Brunswick

$3,700,000

The program authorities allow for some flexibility to adjust amounts between CAIF streams (Rebate and SME Project), as well as to roll over any unallocated funds to subsequent rounds in order to ensure all proceeds collected from the carbon price are returned to their jurisdiction of origin.

32. Am I eligible to receive funding support for a project that will implement activities under multiple project categories (e.g. a retrofit project worth $200,000 that will replace a furnace and windows, and improve the efficiency of existing heavy-duty vehicles)?

Yes, a single project can include retrofits or improvements under multiple categories (e.g. to a building envelope and commercial fleet). However, to be considered the same project, all eligible activities must occur in the same project location. For example, if you have business operations in various locations within an eligible province and you wish to undertake a retrofit project in more than one of these locations, you must submit a separate application for each location (each meeting the minimum ask). Each applicant business can submit up to five (5) applications for individual projects and request up to a maximum total of $250,000 of CAIF funding. For example, you can submit one application for one project requesting $250,000 for one location in an eligible province, or you can submit five (5) applications requesting $50,000 for five project locations and up to a maximum of $250,000 in each eligible province.

33. Can projects include funds from other government sources?

If your project has been approved and continues to meet all the requirements for funding, ECCC is committed to funding up to a maximum amount of 25% of the total eligible project costs to a maximum of $250,000 per applicant per eligible province. The applicant’s portion can also be comprised of other sources of funding, including those from:

  • other federal government departments*
  • provincial/territorial governments*
  • municipal governments*
  • industry and/or partners such as:
    • industry associations and networks
    • businesses
    • academia

*When including funds from other government sources, the stacking limit must be respected. The maximum level of government funding (federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal) that an applicant can receive cannot exceed 100% of the project’s total eligible costs. Some programs may have stacking rules that prevent those funds from being combined with CAIF funding.

34. Are energy audits or services from enterprises that help SMEs track emissions and energy use eligible project expenditures?

Professional or specialized services necessary to undertake eligible project activities and for which contracts are entered into, such as energy audits, energy savings estimate verification, and results monitoring, measuring and reporting, are considered eligible expenditures so long as they do not constitute a standalone projectIn other words, such activities are eligible as part of a project that in turn results in concrete reductions in energy usage, cost and/or GHG emissions. Please note that the SME Project stream is unable to reimburse expenditures retroactively. Like all eligible expenditures, energy audits and other services must be incurred on or after approval-in-principle by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and no later than March 31, 2021.

35. If I apply for funding in the first round but am unsuccessful, will there be any support for my business in future rounds?

As the SME Project stream selection is on a first-come, first-served basis, any applicants who are not successful in the first round of funding are welcome to reapply in subsequent rounds.

Successful applicants can also re-apply but it has to be for a different project.

Small- or medium-sized businesses who are unsuccessful applicants in the CAIF program can consider applying to the Partnerships stream under the Low Carbon Economy Fund, which will provide $10 million nationwide to help support SMEs with projects that meet the program objectives. Successful applicants to the SME Project stream cannot however seek funding for the same project under the Partnerships stream of the Low Carbon Economy Fund, as that fund does not allow stacking with any other programs under the Pan-Canadian Framework, including the CAIF SME Project stream.

36. Can my business apply for funding support retroactively for a piece of equipment/activity that has already been purchased or begun implementation at the time of my submission?

No. All eligible expenditures under the SME Project stream must be incurred on, or implemented no earlier than, the date of the approval-in-principle notification sent by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and no later than March 31, 2021.

37. What level of detail does the SME Project stream require of applicants to be successful, and what type of resources will they need to complete an application?

The SME Project stream Application Form has been designed to be as streamlined as possible. The Form is intended to minimize the amount of time required to complete and to reduce the need to hire outside consultants to help complete the application.   

For example, applicants are expected to have an understanding of the type of equipment their project requires, though it is not necessary at the application stage to specify the make and model. Applicants are expected to have a thorough understanding of the type of project they are implementing and its associated elements and activities.

To support the application process, ECCC will be providing a Web presentation that will walk applicants through the form. In addition, guidance and instructional videos on how to use the Single Window Information Management (SWIM) system are provided.

38. What scale of project am I expected to undertake to be eligible? Is there a minimum and a maximum for total project costs?

Your organization does not need to meet a set number of activities or categories to be eligible. However, you must meet the minimum funding ask (request) and not exceed its maximum. The incentive level for the SME Project stream is 25% of eligible expenditures, with a minimum ask of $20,000 and a maximum ask of $250,000. Successful applicants will therefore have projects between $80,000 and $1 million in total eligible costs. Projects with more than $1 million in eligible expenditures are eligible, but the funding cap of $250,000 will apply for the federal contribution.

39. Can a project lead to GHG emissions reductions without leading to reductions in energy usage?

GHG reductions can occur from projects that are not associated with energy use (e.g. changing from one type of refrigerant to another that has a lower global warming potential, methane capture, or industrial process changes).  Note that if energy usage has no impact on the calculation of the outcomes of your project, you do not have to complete the energy table in section 4.1, but you would need to explain this clearly in your detailed project description (section 3.6 of the form). You should include the following information:

  • The type of greenhouse gas affected (carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, or hexafluoride);
  • Annual release in 2018 (in tonnes, kilograms, etc. – please indicate if this is in native units or in carbon dioxide equivalent units);
  • The estimated annual decrease (in tonnes, kilograms, etc. – please indicate if this is in native units or in carbon dioxide equivalent units);

It is also possible that your project involves no change in energy usage but a reduction in GHG emissions if you are changing to a cleaner fuel source (e.g. natural gas to clean electricity from a non-emitting electricity source). In that case, energy usage is still relevant to the calculation of your GHG emissions reductions and you should still complete the energy table in section 4.1.

40. Can consultants/contractors apply on behalf of SMEs? What role can they play?

Contractors or other partner organizations can help in completing the application form.

The lead applicant must always own the assets benefitting from the project. Contractors or other partner organizations can be added as “Partner Users” in the application system to aid in completing the application form.

In order to grant your partner access to the Application, the lead applicant must ensure the partner also has a GCKey and a SWIM profile that is connected to their organization.

If your partner does not already have one, they will need to create a GCKey and SWIM profile and connect their profile to an organization.

The lead applicant can then navigate to the ‘Application Permissions’ tab of the left navigation menu from within an application. From there, the lead applicant is able to add a partner by clicking “Add Partner User”.

A unique token will be generated that can be shared with the partner, who can redeem it at the bottom of the application home page to gain access to your business’ application.

Additional guidance and instructional videos on using SWIM and creating a GCKey are available on the SWIM Website.

41. Does the 500 employees cap refer only to Canada or globally?

To be considered an SME, your company must have less than 500 employees worldwide. The figure comprises all paid employees, including seasonal and part-time.

42. In order to reach the $80,000 threshold, can partners bundle different projects together?

No – the project has to include a single ultimate recipient and a single project site. For SMEs looking for other funding opportunities, note that a new intake under the Partnerships stream of the Low Carbon Economy Fund (LCEF) will be launched in summer 2019, and may offer more flexibility to bundle smaller projects from different partners in order to reach the $80,000 threshold (e.g., via portfolios of projects).

43. Are condominiums, apartment buildings and housing co-ops eligible for the program?

If you are an incorporated business that rents apartments for commercial purposes, you are eligible to apply for funding support under the SME Project stream, provided you meet all the other eligibility requirements referenced in the Applicant Guide.  

44. Are not-for-profits eligible?

Not-for-profits are not eligible under this stream of the CAIF, which is targeted at small- and medium- size for-profit businesses.

45. What is the business number?

The business number is a nine-digit number that is unique to your business assigned by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) as a tax identification number.

46. Who are participants in the Output-Based Pricing System (OBPS)?

The Output-Based Pricing System (OBPS) applies to:

  • Carbon pricing backstop jurisdictions (Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New-Brunswick)
  • large industrial facilities that carry out a covered or eligible activity and emit 50,000 tonnes or more of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year and
  • facilities that carry out an activity for which an output-based standard is prescribed

Facilities that emit 10 kilotonnes of CO2e or more during a calendar year and carry out a covered or eligible activity can choose to opt into OBPS starting with the January 1 to December 31, 2020 compliance period.

Industrial facilities that are registered under the OBPS will be able to purchase charge-free fuel from the time the charge starts to apply. OBPS facilities will instead be subject to the carbon price on the portion of their emissions that exceed an annual output-based emissions limit.

Questions and answers posted the week of August 12, 2019

47. Why are applicants from Alberta not yet eligible to the CAIF SME Project stream?

The federal carbon pricing backstop has not yet taken effect in Alberta. Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna has given notice to the provincial government in Alberta that the federal government is expected to begin imposing its price on carbon in the province on January 1, 2020. The CAIF Program will become available in Alberta following that date.

48. Under section 5.1 of the Applicant Guide, what do you mean by “The project cannot result in increased GHG emissions associated with the operations of the applicant enterprise”?

Based on the information provided in the project description and the outcomes table in the application form, ECCC will confirm that the project will not result in increased GHG emissions by doing calculations using the energy type, units and estimated change in consumption that you provided in your application. For the purpose of meeting this requirement, ECCC will confirm that there will be no net increase in GHG emissions as a result of your project. For instance, if your project’s objective is fuel switching from low or non-emitting electricity to natural gas (i.e. where natural gas has a higher GHG emissions factor than grid electricity), it is likely that the project will result in increased GHG emissions and therefore will be deemed ineligible even if energy use and costs are reduced.

49. Will an application still be considered if some or part of the activities are deemed ineligible?

No. In order for an application to be considered, all of the activities within the project must be eligible and in line with the program objectives (i.e. reduce energy use, costs and/or GHG emissions). Activities that do not directly contribute to one of the program objectives will only be considered eligible if they are necessary for the completion of the project as a whole. Please consult Section 5 of the Applicant Guide for further information about project eligibility.

50. Will an application be considered if information is missing or entered incorrectly (i.e. Postal Code, Business Number or NAICS Code)?

An application could be rejected if information is missing or invalid. Applicants are responsible for ensuring all the information provided is accurate prior to submitting an application. Applicants will have the ability to review any section of the application throughout the process prior to submitting. Please consult Annex A of the Applicant Guide to ensure you have provided all the necessary relevant information related to your application.

51. Can a tenant meet the asset ownership/own-use criteria if they are implementing measures in a building they do not own?

Yes – if a tenant is both purchasing or improving an asset and either using it to reduce their own operations’ energy consumption or, if it generates energy, using at least 50% of the energy in their own operations, they are eligible.

52. Can a landlord meet the asset ownership/own-use criteria if they are implementing measures in a building they rent out?

Yes – if a landlord is purchasing or improving an asset, installing it on their own property, and either using it to reduce the energy consumption on the property or, if it generates energy, using at least 50% of that energy is used on that property (by the landlord and/or tenants), they are eligible.

53. Can a project be downgraded in size after it is approved?

Yes, but it would still need to meet the minimum total eligible project costs ($80,000) in order to remain eligible.

54. Is there a specific outcome threshold considered in selecting projects, as it relates to reductions in energy use and costs, and GHG emissions?

There is no specific threshold for GHG emissions and energy use and cost savings – the selection is done on a first-come, first-served basis.

55. How do I add a partner user to help complete my application?

If you need to add a partner user, such as a contractor or other partner organization to help with completing the application, follow the steps below:

  1. Once you have accessed the online application form for the CAIF SME Project Stream and have successfully created a new application: select “Application Permissions” in the left-hand menu
  2. Click the “Add Partner User” button
  3. Click the “Edit” button at the end of the row for the newly added Partner User in the table titled “Proposal Permissions for Partner Users”
  4. Using the drop-down menu, change the Privilege Level to “Partner (Editor)”
  5. Click “Update”
  6. Copy-paste the Token for that user in the last column of this table
  7. Share the token with the partner organization that will assist you in completing your application
    Steps to be completed by the partner organization:
    1. Navigate to the welcome screen of the CAIF SME Project Stream online application system
    2. Rather than clicking to “Create New Application”, scroll down to “Partner’s Applications” and paste the token you have received from the lead applicant into the textbox and click “Redeem Partner’s Token”
    3.  You now have access to the lead applicant’s application form and can help completing it. Note that the lead applicant is required to submit the application.

Questions and answers posted the week of September 2, 2019

56. Are GST/PST costs considered eligible expenses for clean energy projects, such as solar energy, wind energy and energy from waste, given that the Government of Canada provides tax savings (write-offs) for them?

As per section 6.3 ‘Ineligible expenditures’ of the Applicant Guide, the following are considered ineligible expenditures: “Provincial sales tax, goods and services tax, or harmonized sales tax for which the applicant or a third party is eligible for a rebate, and any other costs eligible for rebates

As such, businesses that qualify for the Tax Incentives for Businesses and can take advantage of tax write-offs on any equipment related to the project, will not be able to claim costs associated with these taxes under eligible expenditures for CAIF – SME Project stream.

57. Can you confirm if the forty-five (45) business day deadline to sign a funding agreement applies to the applicant or the Government of Canada?

The forty-five (45) business day deadline is for both the applicant and the Government of Canada to sign the funding agreement.

58. Is an energy assessment or energy audit required to determine the expected reductions? How is the expected energy benefit measured?

If you are working with an energy manager, energy evaluator, or contractor, you can get this information from them. If not, then you will need to use your best judgement to estimate expected energy reductions based on equipment specifications (e.g., comparing new equipment to previously installed equipment) and hours used. Note that there will be post-project reporting required where the actual energy reductions must be measured either at the equipment level (if the equipment is specifically metered) or at the facility level (based on changes to energy usage as noted in utility/energy bills).

59. What happens if an applicant does not receive a determination from ECCC on their proposal until after the anticipated project start date that was indicated on the application?

The application would still be valid, assuming the elements of the project for which the applicant is seeking funding only start after ECCC approval is granted. Eligible project expenditures must be incurred and paid between the date of the approval-in-principle notification received from ECCC and the end date of the project, which cannot be later than March 31, 2021. Expenses incurred prior to ECCC notification of approval will not be eligible for reimbursement.

60. If a consultant or contractor has already submitted an application as the lead applicant on behalf of their clients, contrary to the guidance that states that the application must be submitted by the SME that owns and uses the assets benefitting from the project, what should they do?

As the applicant is required to be the end user as well as the owner of the asset, the proposal will need to be resubmitted by the correct lead applicant. The consultant or contractor is encouraged to withdraw their application to ensure that there is no confusion between the projects submitted. To do this, the lead applicant can indicate, in the project description section of the application form, that the new proposal is a resubmission and that the old one should be withdrawn, indicating the initial proposal ID number. Alternatively, applicants can send an email to ec.fiacsoutienti-caifitsupport.ec@canada.ca indicating the desire to withdraw the proposal referencing the proposal ID number.

61. Would fuel switching from natural gas to electricity be an eligible project?

Given that projects must not result in an increase in GHG emissions, fuel switching from natural gas to electricity is only eligible in provinces where the electricity grid has a lower emissions factor than natural gas, such as the case with Manitoba and Ontario, unless the overall energy use decreases sufficiently so that there is no net increase in GHG emissions. Similarly, fuel switching from electricity to natural gas is typically not eligible in these two provinces, unless the overall energy use decreases sufficiently so that there is no net increase in GHG emissions.

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