Categorized | Canadian Politics

Ontario motorists to pay $5 less for Drive Clean test

Posted on 26 December 2013 by admin

Ontario will lower the fee motorists pay for a Drive Clean emissions test by $5 this spring.

Environment Minister Jim Bradley announced the new price will be $30 plus HST starting April 1. The move is in response to the auditor general’s concerns that the courts could rule the user fee is an illegal tax.

“For the past two years, fees have exceeded the cost of running the program and it is in surplus,” Bradley said. “The new reduced fee, combined with applying the two-year surplus to future costs, will ensure that over time…Drive Clean brings in only enough revenue to cover the costs of running the program and no more.”

The mandatory emissions test, required every two years for vehicles seven years or older, will stay in place because it continues to help reduce smog, which endangers public health, Bradley said.

In several articles this year, QMI Agency identified significant problems with the program including false fails and price gouging.

Progressive Conservative MPP Michael Harris said Drive Clean has outlived its original purpose and a fee cut doesn’t go far enough.

“It’s not good enough for Ontario drivers who’ve had to fork over these fees for this unnecessary program for years,” Harris said. “It needs to be scrapped altogether.”

NDP house leader Gilles Bisson said his party would make changes to Drive Clean to correct its problems but believes it still serves a useful purpose.

Bisson said the fee cut is a political move by the Ontario Liberals, when the issues with Drive Clean go much deeper.

“The auditor was pretty clear when the auditor reported that there are a number of things that can be done in order to make a program like this actually achieve its goals,” he said. “And there’s some question as to what degree is it doing so.”

Drive Clean was introduced in 1999 as a tail pipe emissions test, but as of 2013 is an onboard diagnostic test.

According to the 2012 auditor general’s report, the vast majority of vehicles pass the test, the worst polluters are exempted and the program has had a declining effect on air quality in the province.

The new diagnostic test has since been found to register false fails with certain types of vehicles, but Bradley said his ministry is addressing the problem.

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