Ontario has announced that the province’s Drive Clean emission testing program will be wound down by next April.
While it is not a surprise as the program was already slated to be wound down by 2019, it is notable that Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government has seen fit to formally announce its cancellation.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says that the cancellation will save taxpayers and allow the province to refocus efforts on heavy-duty vehicles that he says are now the biggest polluters.
The province says the change will save taxpayers $40 million per year.
Effective April 1, 2019, drivers will no longer be required to get Drive Clean emissions tests for their passenger vehicles.
Until then, drivers’ first Drive Clean emissions test to renew registration for light duty vehicles (most cars, vans, SUVs and light trucks) will continue to be free, says the province.
In a release, the province says: “While Drive Clean effectively reduced vehicle pollution, auto industry standards have significantly improved since the program was created in 1999, making this program no longer necessary.
“Owners of vehicles will still be required to make sure their vehicle emissions systems are operating properly. This means maintenance and repairs are still necessary and will help to avoid more costly repairs. To support this program change, the ministry will be strengthening its on-road inspections to ensure owners are properly maintaining their vehicle emissions.
“A new, enhanced program will focus on the biggest polluting vehicles, like commercial transport trucks, and will ensure that Ontario continues to lead Canada in reducing harmful smog-causing pollutants.
“A policy proposal has been posted on the Environmental Registry for 30 days to encourage public consultation on the changes to the Drive Clean program.”
The announcement does not address concerns by the industry regarding the costs associated with certifying shops and technicians to test vehicles. These concerns were raised in an open letter to the premier by Master Mechanic High Park owner Josie Candito in August (which predated the announcement), which was posted on IndieGarage.ca.