Liberals’ new e-test cleans out consumers’ wallets as failure rate rises

QUEEN’S PARK — Ontario’s Drive Clean program has more and more drivers reaching for their wallets as a result of the Liberals’ onerous new emissions test, PC Environment Critic and Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris said today.

From 1999 to 2010, the failure rate for Drive Clean’s e-test steadily declined to 5% — down from 16%. Now, just a month after the Liberals introduced a new computerized test for light-duty vehicles equipped with an on-board diagnostics (OBD) system, the failure rate has jumped to 10.5%.

“Many of these failures have nothing to do with vehicle emissions,” Harris explained. “In fact, numerous drivers are told their car has failed the test simply because its on-board computer isn’t ‘ready.’ ”

Oftentimes when a vehicle has recently undergone repairs or has had the battery replaced, disconnected or drained, one or more of the monitors in the vehicle’s OBD system may not have run its emissions testing sequence.

“To ensure all monitors are ready, the Ministry of the Environment actually suggests you should spend a few days driving your vehicle on the highway and around town,” Harris said. “I have to admit it seems somewhat ironic that under a program with the stated objective to reduce emissions, the Liberals are encouraging Ontarians to spend days aimlessly driving around to solve a technical glitch before they can pay more money to take another e-test.”The Auditor General specifically warned the Liberals last year to delay the implementation of their new e-test in order to ensure that all technical testing was completed and problems were resolved.

“Here we have, again, a classic example of the Liberals rushing ahead with a policy change without doing any due diligence whatsoever. To me, it’s quite clear that the Liberals introduced a more stringent e-test as a way to justify a program that has obviously outlived its usefulness,” Harris said. “At a time when British Columbia is phasing out its program due to its diminishing impact on emissions reductions, it’s time for Ontario to do the same thing.”