March 16, 2015

Branché au travail program: a misinformed citizen qualified for a subsidy


The complaint

A woman contacted the Québec Ombudsman because of the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles’s refusal to grant her a subsidy under the Branché au travail program.

The woman, who had kept all her email correspondence with the Department, had written proof confirming that she qualified for the program, but now she was being told the opposite.

The investigation

  • The citizen owns a notarial firm registered with the Registre des entreprises and has an electric car which she uses to travel to work.
  • She inquired about the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles’s Branché au travail program, which offers reimbursement of up to 75% of eligible expenses for purchasing and installing a workplace charging station.
  • The program reference documents given to companies, municipalities and agencies state that all legal persons established in Québec are eligible.
  • The Department lists a few exceptions, but registered firms are not on the list.
  • To be absolutely sure, the woman emailed the Department and asked if her firm qualified for the program.
  • At the Department’s request, the woman provided her firm’s business name.
  • The Department’s reply was an unequivocal “yes” concerning her eligibility.
  • Based on this written confirmation, the woman went ahead and had a charging station installed at her workplace and applied to the Department for the subsidy.
  • A few months later, the citizen got a letter from the Department turning down her application and specifying that was ineligible because she did not fit the definition of a legal person.
  • The woman had kept all her email correspondence with the Department.

The Québec Ombudsman’s conclusion

Further to the Québec Ombudsman’s intervention and given the proof in writing of the two contradictory statements, the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles agreed to approve the citizen’s application for the Branché au travail program and to reimburse her for 75% of the eligible expenses incurred, which represented over $800.