Ontario would become ‘beater capital of Canada’ if Drive Clean scrapped
Glen Murray, Environment Minister, warns that if the province scrapped the Drive Clean program in Ontario than it would become the “beater capital of Canada”. This program mainly targets older cars with pollution problems.
Murray was safeguarding the emissions effort, which began waiving a $30 fee for motorists on Friday, as Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa Thompson said it should be sent to the scrapyard and its $60- million budget spent more wisely.
“Now, everyone pays because the fee has simply been shifted to the taxpayer . . . . Drivers and non-drivers are paying for this,” Thompson (Huron-Bruce) said Monday.
“The fact is there is already a 95-per-cent pass rate here in Ontario . . . . It is a program that has already outlived its usefulness and is a burden on drivers.”
According to the survey, Vehicles are responsible for about one-third of greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
Drive Clean was started by the former Mike Harris PC government in 1999 as a temporary program.
In recent years, critics branded it a cash-grab, prompting the Liberal government to cut the fee for Drive Clean emissions checks by $5 to $30 two years ago.
It began as a revenue-neutral program, but began making a profit in 2011.
Murray told MPPs in the legislature’s daily question period, it’s important that Drive Clean remain.
“If we cancelled the program, we would have hundreds of thousands of vehicles on the road causing problems with air quality . . . . We have no interest in having Ontario become the beater capital of Canada,” he said.
“In 2014 alone, 185,000 vehicles were retired or had to be upgraded.”
Under Drive Clean, owners of cars, SUVS and the like, seven years or older, must pass an emissions tests at authorized auto repair shops before their license plate stickers can be renewed.
Two million vehicles are tested annually.
Five years ago, then-auditor general James McCarter said pollution controls in vehicles had improved remarkably since Drive Clean’s inception. Technology manufacturers installed in cars had improved vehicle emissions by 75 per cent, he said.
Murray said the government is working on making Drive Clean less of a burden on drivers by using “telematics,” already in about a quarter of vehicles, to send emissions data to the government, not require motorists to go to a garage for a test.