Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Furnace Replacement Subsidy - An Interesting Tale 

This classic Catch-22 was sent in by a Ralph's World reader from St. Albert. The following is from a letter that she sent to her MLA looking for advice.

Now that my gas bills are running around $300 per month, this warmest winter ever in the Province of Alberta, I am motivated to quit dithering and try to wrestle a furnace replacement subsidy out of the (unwilling?) hands of the Government of Alberta.

To that end I just called gov-ab seniors' information- to ask if there were any new twists-and-turns in the application procedure. Well, there's a dandy. And I need your advice.

I spoke with an advisor (no sense in asking for a name for they're "not required to provide that information"). My question was: "What is the procedure for applying?". The answer: get a form; fill it in; get quotations, provide copies; and "provide a copy of a letter from the gas company saying that your furnace is unfit"; mail it all in to us. *EEEK!*

As I am sure you know, gas-appliance inspection requires a gas-fitters' ticket. And for some years now, there has been a regulation in Alberta that a gas-fitter who finds that a gas furnace is in any way a possible danger is required to turn the furnace off, and also to lock it down in such a way that the owner cannot restart it.

So, do you see the picture? The poor senior, eaten alive by gas bills who only wanted a letter, is standing in a cooling house. By tomorrow, her house may be frozen solid. Nothing to do but call for (frightfully expensive) emergency action.

So I explained that to the advisor. Then the schpiel changed substantially. Quoting from her "answer-book", she said that..well, we'll need a letter saying your furnace is unfit either from the gas company or from a contractor. I told her thanks and rang off.

So you see, they're fooling with us again (still?). And I have no idea how to proceed.

Will you please suggest how a senior is supposed to navigate this minefield?

Deane Doucette,

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