Liberals tinker with fees, vow to continue Drive Clean

QUEEN’S PARK – Reducing Drive Clean fees may be good enough for the Liberals and the NDP, but it’s not good enough for Ontario drivers who’ve been forced to fork over their hard-earned money to pay for unnecessary emissions testing for years, PC Environment Critic and Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris said today.

“Cleaner cars and fuels have rendered Drive Clean redundant,” Harris said shortly after the Environment Minister’s press conference to announce a meager $5-dollar fee reduction for next year. “The NDP and the Liberals have signalled that they are willing to do whatever it takes to keep this temporary program running indefinitely.”

Drive Clean was set up with the very specific purpose of reducing vehicle emissions that contribute to smog until advances in fuel efficiency and standards caught up. The evidence shows that happened three years ago. From 1999 to 2010, the percentage of vehicles that failed emissions testing in Ontario had dropped from 16% to 5%.

“With 95% of cars passing emissions testing, the former Auditor General found in his 2012 report that the Drive Clean program had had little to no impact on reducing smog,” Harris said. “Instead of listening to the Auditor General’s advice and following the lead of other jurisdictions that are phasing out their emissions-testing programs, like B.C., the Liberals went in the opposite direction earlier this year by introducing a new computerized emissions test that is less reliable and more prone to error,” Harris said.

“They made this move knowing that the program, which is supposed to be revenue-neutral, had racked up a massive surplus – that’s now $19 million,” Harris said. “Now, that the government has been caught red-handed fleecing Ontario drivers, the Liberals and the NDP want to tinker around the edges of the program to justify its existence. That’s unacceptable. The Ontario PC Caucus believes Drive Clean should be scrapped.”

About 12,500 Ontario drivers have voiced their opposition to the province’s emissions-testing program by signing the Ontario PCs’ online petition at ScrapDriveClean.ca.