Equity Implications of Energy Poverty in Canada

A preliminary analysis of energy poverty trends in racialized, recent immigrant, and Indigenous households using the Energy Poverty and Equity Explorer

In late 2019, the Canadian Urban Sustainability Practitioners Network (CUSP) used the Energy Poverty and Equity Explorer tool (energypoverty.ca) to investigate the extent to which racialized, recent immigrant, and Indigenous households are living in energy poverty. We conclude that these traditionally underserved groups are by orders of magnitude more likely to be living with energy poverty than Canadian households that are, for the most part, Caucasian, well-established, and non-Indigenous. More detailed analysis is required, but given the pervasiveness of this trend in our preliminary findings, it would seem that the structural barriers that impede equitable prosperity and wellbeing for these underserved communities also impact their likelihood of living in energy poverty. In this assessment we present the findings from our preliminary analysis and suggest next steps that policy makers might consider undertaking for deeper and more granular analyses of local, provincial and national energy-poverty disparities among these equity-seeking groups. With this more rigorous data in hand, policymakers will be better equipped to develop effective and impactful programs and policies that address the root cause of these inequities while making homes more comfortable and affordable, and Canadian cities more sustainable. This report is a primer and reflects a high level review of whether energy poverty in Canada has racial equity implications. This primer reports on this preliminary analysis and shows that the effects of structural racism and oppression do carry over to the likelihood and extent of energy poverty among racialized, recent immigrant and Indigenous households. Given these preliminary results, this primer makes some recommendations for policymakers to partner with equity-seeking groups to perform more detailed studies and co-design equity-centred policies.

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Canadian Urban Sustainability Practitioners