Local ceremony marks end of Ontario’s Drive Clean program

April 1, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

The Ontario government is finally calling time on a much-maligned program that Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones described as “seriously outdated” in a special ceremony in Orangeville last week.

Introduced by the Province in 1999, Drive Clean was an emissions control program that was initially intended to weed out vehicles producing unrestrained amounts of particulate emissions contributing to smog and increasing pollution in Ontario. On Sept. 28 last year, the provincial government announced it would be cancelling the initiative, which largely dealt with regular passenger vehicles, in favour of focusing on more heavy duty vehicles. The change will take effect Monday (April 1). 

Speaking at MacMaster Buick GMC on Friday (March 22), Ms. Jones noted the cancellation of the program would save taxpayers approximately $40 million per year.

“As a member (of the Opposition), I worked for many years to try and convince the then government of the day to phase out Ontario’s Drive Clean program,” Ms. Jones said. “The statistics have shown that while the program had value when it was first introduced by the PC government 20 years ago, that value has long since disappeared.”

She added, “So, I was very pleased when, after we formed government, we made the announcement that Drive Clean would finally be eliminated in Ontario. Frankly, instead we’re going to focus on where the real issues are, which is the larger transport trucks.”

Ms. Jones was joined on Friday by Frank Notte, Director of Government Relations with Trillium Automobile Dealers Association. Speaking to the Citizen, Mr. Notte noted the cancellation was a long time coming.

“What started out as a temporary program in 1999 to clean the environment, turned into a permanent program that eventually cleaned out taxpayers’ wallets instead,” Mr. Notte said. “Drive Clean has achieved its goal of getting the worst polluting vehicles off the road and Premier Doug Ford and MPP Sylvia Jones are right to send Drive Clean to the scrapyard.

When the program was first introduced two decades ago, approximately 16 percent of vehicles tested failed to meet emissions standards. As of 2010, that number had dropped down to five percent. 

In 2012, Ontario’s Auditor General Jim McCarter released a report stating that Drive Clean was no longer having a major impact on lowering vehicle emissions. In 2014, British Columbia eliminated its similar mandatory emissions-testing regime, leaving Ontario as the only province in Canada with a program regulating vehicle emissions. 

“I am happy to support and endorse initiatives and programs that make a real difference to the lives of Ontario residents, but, frankly, when something has outran its usefulness, we as a government have to react and respond to get rid of programs that aren’t working anymore,” Ms. Jones concluded.

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