Recent Changes to Emergency Financial Assistance under the Low-income Energy Assistance Program: What they mean to you.

Consumers having trouble paying their energy bills may qualify for Emergency Financial Assistance under the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP EFA).                                                                 

Importantly, while eligibility criteria for LEAP EFA haven’t changed, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) will continue to provide flexibility, through 2023, in relation to the screening guidelines agencies should consider in assessing applications.   

Eligibility criteria for LEAP EFA hasn’t changed

You must:

  • be an existing customer of a natural gas distributor, electricity distributor or unit sub-meter provider,
  • live at the home that is behind on the energy bill, and
  • have a total after-tax household income that is at or below the income threshold that applies based on the number of people in the home.

Temporary screening changes have been extended

Temporary changes to the screening guidelines, put in place in 2021 to help support Ontarians through the COVID-19 pandemic, will continue to provide flexibility through 2023. This means:

  • your energy bill must be in arrears, but you do not need to be in threat of disconnection or have been disconnected, and
  • you can apply for LEAP EFA more than once per year, provided that the total amount received by your household does not exceed the maximum annual grant amounts.

Temporary increases to maximum annual grant amounts have ended.

In order to assist as many customers in need as possible, maximum grant amounts per year have returned to their pre-pandemic levels. Eligible customers can get up to $500 for their electricity bills ($600 if the home is electrically heated) and up to $500 for their natural gas bills.  

Last year, maximum grant amounts were temporarily doubled because distributors:

  • were carrying over a large amount of program funding that was unused in 2021 such that more funding than usual was available in 2022, and  
  • expected that the amount of arrears consumers may be facing in 2022 would be higher than normal.

This year, a significant number of distributors advised that they used all of their LEAP EFA funds in 2022 and had no funds to carry over into 2023. To ensure sufficient funds remain available for as many eligible customers as possible, maximum grant amounts for 2023 have returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Because LEAP EFA funding amounts are limited, it’s important to apply for support as soon as you fall behind on your energy bills. You can see if you qualify for LEAP EFA and learn more about how to apply here.

You may also qualify for other assistance

Beyond LEAP EFA, other programs are available to help low-income energy consumers including the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP). Distributors and unit sub-meter providers must also follow special rules that protect low-income customers; for example, waiving security deposits and allowing longer payment times under arrears payment plans. You can find out more about the OESP and these special rules at

Winter Disconnection Ban

Electricity and natural gas distributors cannot disconnect residential customers for non-payment during the provincial winter disconnection ban from November 15 to April 30. However, because they can continue to charge late payment fees on past due amounts, it is important you remain in contact with your utility during this period and explore payment options that may be available to you. The provincial winter disconnection ban does not apply to customers served by a unit sub-meter provider. Customers should contact their unit sub-meter provider directly, to understand their provider’s winter disconnection policy.