Premier Doug Ford, centre, speaks to the media with Rod Phillips, right, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, and John Yakabuski, Minister of Transportation regarding the decision to cancel the Ontario Drive Clean program in Toronto, on Sept. 28, 2018. NATHAN DENETTE/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Ontario to scrap Drive Clean emissions test, target heavy duty vehicles instead

Only five per cent of vehicles failed the test last year, compared with 16 per cent in 1999, and the trend is expected to continue, the government said.

Ontario’s Drive Clean vehicle emissions testing program will be dismantled next year and replaced with a new system that will focus on heavy-duty vehicles such as transport trucks, the government said Friday.

The Progressive Conservative government said the Drive Clean program, which tests emissions every two years on cars and light-duty trucks over seven years old, is outdated and no longer effective.

In a news conference Friday, Premier Doug Ford said the program worked well when it was introduced in 1999 and but grew less useful as the automotive industry adopted more stringent emissions standards.

“Drive Clean was created almost 20 years ago but 20 years later, the family car now creates much less pollution. So Drive Clean has outlived its usefulness,” he said.

Only five per cent of vehicles failed the test last year, compared with 16 per cent in 1999, and the trend is expected to continue, the government said.

The Tories said a new program will be introduced to target emissions from heavy-duty vehicles, which they say have weaker emissions standards and get replaced less frequently.

“With the light-duty vehicle program gone, we will be able to better focus … on the biggest polluters on the road: transport trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles,” Environment Minister Rod Phillips said.

“More vehicles will be tested and almost twice as many polluting vehicles will be repaired. This means tougher on-road inspections, stronger enforcement that will ensure owners are accountable and properly maintaining their vehicle’s emissions.”

The government said the proposed changes will be subject to a 30-day public consultation, and are scheduled to take effect on April 1, 2019. It further said the move is expected to save the province $40 million each year.

The previous Liberal government made the test free last year and proposed a pilot project that would allow the test to be carried out remotely through on-board diagnostics.

Drive Clean has previously come under fire for amassing multimillion-dollar surpluses, even though it was supposed to be a revenue neutral program. Ontario’s former auditor general warned in 2012 that could land the province in legal trouble, because it’s a user fee, not a tax.

Friday’s announcement was met with praise by some in the automotive industry and questions from some political opponents.

“Ontario is now in the mainstream, becoming the last province to eliminate their mandatory vehicle emissions program,” said Frank Notte of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, which represents more than 1,000 new car dealers in Ontario.

“No longer will auto dealers waste money on equipment and overhead costs, freeing up money to invest in their business.”

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said that while he can accept that the program is no longer as relevant as it once was, scrapping it is part of a pattern for this government.

“When you look at the list of things this government has done on the environment file, all you see are cuts. They have axed pollution pricing, clean energy contracts, energy retrofits and (electric vehicle) rebates, in addition to repealing climate change laws,” he said.

“The cancellation of Drive Clean might have little impact one way or another. But it is part of a larger trend of ideologically driven decisions that are out of touch with the future of clean jobs and prosperity.”

Related: Carbon tax would cut 90M tonnes of emissions by 2022, government projects

Related: Carbon tax breakdown: Understanding issues around the policy tool

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wetaskiwin shelter will close early after assaults, other problems

Mayor Tyler Gandam said mental health, addictions overshadowing shelter’s purpose

PHOTOS: New Humble Centre School hosts successful Indoor Winter Carnival

Younger kids were enjoying the carnival while older siblings went outside to enjoy the outdoor rink

Ephraim Girling Brings The Law To Wetaskiwin

No-nonsense police officer didn’t mess around with law-breakers

New intersection coming for Hwy. #2A near grain terminal

G3 Canada will begin new intersection in 2020

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Alberta Appeal Court sides with Alberta on federal carbon tax

Today’s decision is the first to side with a province against the federal government

Father and two children, from Southern Alberta, killed in fatal crash in B.C.

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sex crimes in landmark #MeToo trial

The cases against the Hollywood mogul started the #MeToo movement

CRA puts focus on paper returns as tax-filing season opens

The federal tax collector expects to handle about two million paper returns this calendar year out of roughly 26 million filings

Teck withdraws application for Frontier mine, citing discourse over climate change

The Vancouver-based company said it will take a $1.13-billion writedown on the Frontier project in Alberta

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Blockades remain in place as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs returning to B.C.

Hereditary Chief Woos said they are ready to engage in nation-to-nation talks with the B.C.

Most Read