HPBAC Announces Mike McNeice as Director of Public Affairs

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada (HPBAC) is pleased to announce that Mike McNeice has joined our association as Director of Public Affairs. McNeice officially began work on Thursday, April 13, 2023. “Mike is a welcome addition to our team.” said Laura Litchfield, President. “He brings a wealth of experience from the organizations he’s worked with in the past that will be of great benefit to our association.”

McNeice has spent over ten years in public affairs in a variety of roles. Most recently, he worked with the Ontario Real Estate Association as their Senior Manager of Government Relations and Advocacy. He has extensive experience in stakeholder relations and strategy development.

“I’m excited to be part of this great organization,” said McNeice. “I look forward to building strategic partnerships and continuing to build on HPBAC’s incredible work, which has already contributed so much to the advancement of this industry.”

Mike can be reached at mike@hpbacanada.org.



Meghan O’Reilly
Public Affairs Manager
Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada

Open Letter to BC’s Premier

Dear Premier,

Imagine the following scenario.

You are a hardworking resident of BC, earning your livelihood by manufacturing, distributing, and selling fireplaces and woodstoves. You are one of the 3,000 people directly employed in the industry in BC, and part of a larger group of upwards of 7,000 residents whose livelihood is derived from the sector.

You and your colleagues across the 60 Small and Medium Businesses in BC are working relentlessly to adapt and adjust to the challenges created by inflation, supply chain issues, and increased raw material costs. Specifically, you have iden­tified and communicated to government how shortages in electronic components are negatively impacting industry, and have asked for collaboration opportunities to mitigate the impact.

In this context, you were then informed by a public Ministry of Finance notice released near the end of February that an additional 5% sales tax on fireplaces will be imposed starting April 1st. You quickly realize the decision was made without consulting you, your colleagues, or any of the 3,000 people working in the industry.

From conception to implementation, all evidence points to a policy process lacking in transparency and due diligence. On top of no consultation during the policy development stage, which you would have willingly been a part of, industry was not given one phone call, email, or heads-up of any type. You were not given a single opportunity to provide input on a decision that directly impacts a vital BC industry, or even consulted on the implementation which itself is problematic and costly for BC’s Small and Medium Businesses.

Now ask yourself if this meets your responsibility to foster respectful, inclusive, and transparent public policy development. Was this policy process built on the principles of procedural fairness, proper notice, and amenability to discussion; so that even when a decision negatively impacts an industry there is time to consider how to mitigate these impacts?

Respectfully, the BC Hearth Industry

Internal Trade in Canada

Internal trade is one of the more interesting policy questions in Canada. Federal and provincial politicians and policy makers agree that internal trade is an essential element of the Canadian economy. Yet, it remains an elusive policy issue that, until recently, was often overlooked in discussions on economic growth and business competitiveness.


Proponents argue that enhancing internal trade supports economic competitiveness by creating jobs, helping businesses expand, enhancing consumer choice, and increasing Canada’s overall economic growth. Opponents focus on the importance of regional economic development, jurisdictional autonomy and the importance of government policy promoting local workers and local business.

For small- and medium-sized businesses in Canada, the reality of internal trade is often acutely felt when expanding into multiple jurisdictions or when attempting to capture local government contracts. From duplicate regulatory and business registration requirements across jurisdictions on one hand, to rules prohibiting a government’s ability to direct procurement to a local company on the other, the rules that govern internal trade impact the cost of doing business in Canada and shape economic opportunities.

The internal trade framework in Canada consists of three sources of rules that govern the flow of goods and services, investment, labor mobility, technical barriers to trade, procurement coverage, and regulatory cooperation within Canada. The primary source is the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) which came into force on July 1, 2017. The CFTA covers nearly every sector of the economy, including most of the service economy, which alone accounts for 70 per cent of Canada’s GDP. The remaining rules are federal and provincial and territorial (PT) (including municipal) and are either exempt from the CFTA or outside its scope. This includes areas such as health and social services, consumer protection and policies that provide preferences and support local companies and workers.

The federal government and all provinces and territories (PTs) are signatories to the CFTA. It commits governments to a comprehensive set of rules that apply automatically to almost all areas of economic activity in Canada, with exceptions being clearly identified. Governments made precedent-setting commitments including:

  • prohibitions on barriers to the movement of goods within Canada
  • open and transparent procurement practices
  • the obligation to adopt the least trade restrictive technical regulations and standards possible
  • the establishment of a regulatory reconciliation process to address regulatory differences across jurisdictions
  • strengthened dispute settlement and consultation provisions for governments and business whose rights have been violated

In short, CFTA establishes opportunities and constraints on business activity within Canada that can have positive and negative impacts which are important to understand. To that end, HPBAC  is designing a survey for distribution to collect information on how internal trade rules impact industry.  The survey is expected to be sent out the first week of June 2021.

Woodstove Industry Requests Engagement with Comox Valley Decision-Makers on Bans of Wood-Burning Appliances 

(COMOX VALLEY, BC) – Following the continuation of multiple bans in the Comox Valley on the installation of wood-burning appliances, the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada (HPBAC) is again requesting a meeting with local decision-makers in the City of Courtenay, Town of Comox, and Village of Cumberland to discuss a new process for engagement between decision-makers and local industry representatives. HPBAC and the local wood-burning appliance industry are supportive of effective regulation that promotes better air quality; however, the industry wants to see meaningful engagement with all parties impacted. 

“HPBAC has worked with other municipalities, including Metro Vancouver, to develop policy in a similar situation which was informed by all stakeholders,” said Laura Litchfield, President of HPBAC. “HPBAC hopes municipalities in the Comox Valley will consider modifying the bans and allow regulation to be more results-oriented and reflective of the best interests of residents and the local industry.”

HPBAC notes that the current bans of wood-burning appliances in new homes prevent the use of wood-burning as a primary and backup heat source and results in an increase in home heating costs for residents. The bans also unnecessarily impact workers, retailers, and manufacturers. There are seven hearth appliance manufacturers in British Columbia, 3,000 direct jobs, and additional indirect jobs. Furthermore, bans inappropriately suggest the use of modern certified wood-burning appliances is inconsistent with the pursuit of air quality improvements and climate change adaptation when evidence proves this to be incorrect. 

“Residents and consumers who use wood-burning appliances have long recognized the importance of protecting Canada’s precious natural resources, improving air quality, and reversing the effects of climate change,” said Ms. Litchfield. “For this reason, the hearth industry in Canada has been hard at work making products that use less fuel to supply heat, with extremely low levels of emission, and at a fraction of the cost of other heating methods. Modern certified wood stoves are an efficient heating appliance.” 

HPBAC and its members strive to work closely with decision-makers and regulatory partners to develop progressive, evidence-based policy. Despite sustained efforts to ensure this happened in Comox Valley, regional and municipal decision-makers have not adequately considered alternative policy levers that would positively impact air quality and carbon emissions.

Chris Bowen of Pioneer Fireplace has been attempting to work with the Village of Cumberland and the City of Courtenay but met significant resistance. “The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) started the Airshed Roundtable Project to study air quality in the Comox Valley and to implement a Regional Airshed Protection Strategy, yet the bans were put in place before members of the roundtable could even bring forward recommendations,” said Mr. Bowen.

Comox Valley resident and local business owner, Jamie Payne, frustrated by a lack of willingness by decision-makers to listen, said the “bans are jeopardizing my business and investment for no legitimate reason. They are unjustified, misplaced and will not do anything to help local air quality.” 

Ms. Litchfield urges consideration and acceptance of the representations from the wood-burning appliance industry. “The fact that a report published by Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) has been cited by the media is just one example of how misinformation relating to the effectiveness of modern certified wood-burning finds its way into  policy processes.” 

HPBAC is requesting a way to replace uncertified older model stoves with modern and low emitting certified appliances be adopted. Many communities in Canada and the U.S. have implemented successful woodstove changeout programs, including many in B.C. This solution would address the issue without the need for a ban on the installation of wood-burning appliances.

For more information, please visit www.overturntheban.ca.

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada (HPBAC) is the national not-for-profit association representing businesses that produce, sell, or service appliances and accessories in Canada’s hearth and barbecue industries. HPBAC gives consumers an overview of the hearth, patio and barbecue industry and provides the information needed to help Canadians make the right choice for their home.

For more information, please contact:
Jeff Loder
Director of Public Affairs, HPBAC

Government of Canada’s Budget 2021 Highlights

The Government of Canada’s has released its plan to repair the damage to the economy caused by COVID-19, and to ensure a resilient recovery that creates jobs and growth for Canadians.

Business Support Programs

  • Budget 2021 proposes to extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program until September 25, 2021. It proposes to gradually decrease rent subsidy rates, beginning July 4, 2021, but includes the ability to further extend the wage subsidy program through regulations until November 20, 2021.
  • Budget 2021 proposes to extend the Canada Rent Subsidy Program and Lockdown Support until September 25, 2021. It also proposes to gradually decrease the rate of the rent subsidy, beginning July 4, 2021, but includes the ability to further extend the wage subsidy program through regulations until November 20, 2021.
  • The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) has provided interest-free, partially forgivable loans. In December 2020, the Government of Canada increased the value of the loan from $40,000 to $60,000 and recently extended the application deadline to June 30, 2021. Budget 2021 proposes to extend the application deadline for similar support under the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund and the Indigenous Business Initiative until June 30, 2021.
  • Budget 2021 proposes changes to the Canada Small Business Financing Program through amendments to the Canada Small Business Financing Act and its regulations. These proposed amendments are projected to increase annual financing by $560 million, supporting approximately 2,900 additional small businesses. Proposed amendments include:
    • Expanding loan class eligibility to include lending against intellectual property and start-up assets and expenses;
    • Increasing the maximum loan amount from $350,000 to $500,000 and extending the loan coverage period from 10 to 15 years for equipment and leasehold improvements;
    • Expanding borrower eligibility to include non-profit and charitable social enterprises; and
    • Introducing a new line of credit product to help with liquidity and cover short-term working capital needs.
  • Budget 2021 proposes to introduce the new Canada Recovery Hiring Program for eligible employers that continue to experience qualifying declines in revenues relative to before the pandemic. The proposed subsidy would offset a portion of the extra costs employers take on as they reopen, either by increasing wages or hours worked, or hiring more staff. This support would only be available for active employees and will be available from June 6 to November 20, 2021. Eligible employers would claim the higher of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy or the new proposed subsidy.

Digitalization/Technology Adaptation Programs

  • Budget 2021 proposes launching the Canada Digital Adoption Program. The program will provide businesses with two streams of support. Eligible businesses will receive micro-grants to help offset the costs of going digital—and provide support to digital trainers from a network of up to 28,000 well trained young Canadians. Budget 2021 proposes to provide $1.4 billion over four years, starting in 2021-22, to:
    • Work with organizations across Canada to provide access to skills, training, and advisory services for all businesses accessing this program.
    • Provide micro-grants to smaller, main street businesses to support costs associated with technology adoption.
    • Create training and work opportunities for as many as 28,000 young people to help small- and medium-sized businesses across Canada adopt new technology.
  •  Budget 2021 proposes to provide $2.6 billion over four years, on a cash basis, starting in 2021-22, to the Business Development Bank of Canada to help small- and medium-sized businesses finance technology adoption.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) Retrofit Program

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $4.4 billion on a cash basis ($778.7 million on an accrual basis over five years, starting in 2021-22, with $414.1 million in future years), to the CMHC to help homeowners complete deep home retrofits through interest-free loans worth up to $40,000. The program would be available by summer 2021 and support retrofits for up to 200,000 households.

Clean Technology Programs

  • Budget 2021 proposes to introduce an investment tax credit for capital invested in carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) projects, beginning in 2022.
  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $319 million over seven years, starting in 2021-22, to Natural Resources Canada to support research and development that would improve the commercial viability of carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies.
  • Budget 2021 proposes to reduce—by 50 per cent—the general corporate and small business income tax rates for businesses that manufacture zero-emission technologies. The reductions would go into effect on January 1, 2022 and would be gradually phased out starting January 1, 2029 and eliminated by January 1, 2032.

Workforce Development Funding

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $55 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to Employment and Social Development Canada for a Community Workforce Development Program. Funding would be delivered through calls for proposals under two streams: A national stream focused on priority areas, like de-carbonization and supporting a just transition for workers in transforming sectors like energy, which would dedicate 75 per cent of funding to projects that support underrepresented groups; and a regional stream delivered by Service Canada regional offices, in partnership with regional development agencies, and focused on regional priorities.

Regulatory Initiatives

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide up to $6.1 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to renew the External Advisory Committee on Regulatory Competitiveness.
  • Since 2018, the Government of Canada has been conducting targeted regulatory reviews to identify and eliminate regulatory barriers to economic growth. Budget 2021 states that the second round of regulatory roadmaps will be released in the coming weeks on digitization and technology neutral regulations, international standards, and clean technology.


Get Your Team Ready for the High Season

Get Your Team Ready for the High Season

With the beginning of spring comes renewed energy and excitement. As snow melts (being Canadian means you must enjoy all 4 seasons since there’s no way around Old Man winter every year), the trees awake, the birds come back (or are just louder). For some, it becomes easier to get to their BBQ, while for others like my team and me, we plan a good spring cleaning of our equipment, because it continued burning all winter long!


Spring is also a reminder that we need to shake off the winter dust and shake up our teams. While winter is a great time to tackle little projects around the shop, we know spring will bring more customers through the door. We need to prepare to always ensure the best customer experience is delivered.

One of the low-hanging fruits I feel is important to remind our boutique’s manager and the sales team in turn, concerns inventory. There’s no better time than spring to go through your inventory and rotate. What do you want to propose as an attractive offer to customers, to help you free up shelving space in the warehouse or in the store? Are there replacement parts you know are in greater demand when the high season approaches?  Check your inventory, rotate it, stock up on what makes sense to your audience, and make sure your staff can guide customers well. If in doubt, role play – have your most knowledgeable staff answer tricky questions in front of the team to put words in their mouth, increase their knowledge and confidence with customers.

One of the objectives of a good sales team is not to make customers buy everything but to buy what they need.  Teach your staff to ask open-ended questions. Your customers are shopping for a new BBQ or BBQ products in your store because you offer quality and expertise. They know what they want when they walk in, or at least, they think they know. By finding out customers’ interests, you can help them push their limits by suggesting they try new things. Perhaps they are not comfortable smoking food on pellets or a charcoal BBQ yet? There is always the option to use a smoker box with wood chips. The flavours developed can still be very tasty.

I work closely with my staff to ensure everyone on the floor, from my most experienced guy to the newly hired cashier, knows about products, especially our most popular ones. We develop our own flavours to suit customers’ needs. We also like to take calculated risks, with our knowledge of the BBQ industry, with out-of-the-box tasting profiles, and guess what? Customers love it and new trends are set! There is always going to be a necessity for your teams, and mine, to know the basics of BBQ and the main categories. But don’t forget what will make your customers want to come back for more is the next level stuff. Be ready to talk about how to prep and smoke or slow cook a Texan style brisket, how to leverage the spring temperature for cold smoking, pairing of rubs, sauces and wood flavours, with the various meat types or cheese and nuts. This is what makes the customer’s experience memorable; what makes them come back.

With that said, when adding new consumable products to your inventory, it’s a good idea to crack open a bottle, taste it or even take turns with the staff bringing in meats that would have been cooked at home or on a BBQ behind the shop, to taste and experience first-hand what it is you will recommend. In spring, you still have time to do that.

Spring is for some the time to clean up the BBQ from on-going winter use or to shine it up again, ahead of the warmer weather coming. The same way we don’t appreciate a clothing salesperson telling us a suit looks great on us when it’s so obvious that the cut just doesn’t work with our body type, we need to be mindful that customers are not going to buy new BBQs every season. Instead of focusing on the big ticket items, perhaps approach them by introducing pitmaster techniques with meat injection, or just the basics of cooking to temperature versus time, reiterating the importance of owning a thermometer. Your customers will come to visit the store to fill up on their favourite charcoal, sauce or rub. Presenting new products, sharing BBQ recipes or ensuring the basics are covered to kick off the season, will create loyalty with your customer base and that’s how you will see them coming back all year-round.

Spring is exciting because in-store traffic increases by the day. Making sure your team on-site understands the needs of customers and is ready to add value and answer any type of question is essential. Your store is a destination to discover. Creating an experience for customers will guarantee the traffic is ongoing, especially when a big box banner pushes an aggressive marketing campaign or on rainy days. Be ready to welcome everyone as you gear up for the High Season!

Max Lavoie

President, House of BBQ Experts