Ontario is eliminating the $30 Drive Clean test fee for light-duty vehicles, such as most cars, vans, SUVs and light trucks, as of April 1, 2017.
Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Glen Murray, made the announcement today at Start Auto Electric Ltd. in Toronto. Eliminating the Drive Clean fee will save people money and make it easier for owners to ensure their vehicles are running efficiently with minimum emissions.
The province is also implementing other changes to strengthen the Drive Clean Program and ensure that more vehicles are repaired within two years of emissions problems being identified, including:
Ontario’s Drive Clean Program tests 2.3 million vehicles per year. It helps reduce emissions that cause smog and poor air quality – cutting emissions from vehicles by about one-third each year, which ensures cleaner air and better health for everyone in the province.
Improving air quality while lowering costs for Ontario households is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.
“We are fulfilling our commitment to eliminate the Drive Clean test fee for light-duty vehicles and deliver lower costs for Ontario households. The fee elimination and other changes to the program will help make life easier for vehicle owners, while ensuring Drive Clean continues to target polluting vehicles and protect Ontario’s air quality.”
The Ontario Auditor General had previously criticized the fee — likening it to a tax, saying it takes in more money than was needed to cover the cost of administering the program.
Gary Wheeler, a spokesman for the Ontario’s environment ministry, said the test fee was already dropped to $30 from $35 in 2014 to address that complaint.
“At the time, there was an accumulated surplus of $23 million,” Wheeler said in an e-mail. “That number has since been in steady decline. We expect the remaining surplus to be eliminated by June 1, 2017 — 90 days following the elimination of the initial testing fee.”
Once the remaining surplus is drained, the government will reimburse Drive Clean Facilities for test fees, he said.
“This fee elimination will take the costs off of Ontario’s drivers and allow all of us to continue to enjoy the cleaner air benefits brought by the Drive Clean program,” he said.
• Why do motorists still have to take their vehicles to get tested at all given how relatively clean many cars are these days?
“Drive Clean continues to play an important role in protecting the quality of the air we breathe and significantly contributes to the reduction of emissions that cause smog and poor air quality. In 2014 alone, the program prevented smog-causing pollutants from being released from 135,000 vehicles. The program has reduced emissions of smog-causing pollutants by approximately one-third each year — that’s close to 400,000 tonnes from 1999 to 2012. Last year’s Toronto Vital Signs report also shows premature deaths and hospitalizations as a result of air pollution have dropped by 23% and 41% respectively since 2004.”
• How much can a shop charge a driver for repairs if there’s a fail?
“The cost of repairs is determined by the facility and varies depending on the type of repair. Beginning in January 2018, the ministry will adjust the repair cost limit annually according to the Consumer Price Index.”
• What happens with vehicles that get a conditional pass?
“The intent of the conditional pass is to provide time for vehicle owners to save money in order to fully repair or retire their vehicle. To qualify for a conditional pass, the motorist must make all emissions-related repairs that cost up to — but not more than — the repair cost limit. The repair estimate and actual repairs must be emissions-related; and the repairs must be done by a certified repair technician at an accredited Drive Clean facility.”
• And what about VW diesels caught up in the emissions scandal?
“Ontario will continue to test the affected vehicles for the many possible emissions faults according to Drive Clean program requirements. The ministry has issued an order to the company requiring it to provide a plan detailing the actions it will take to fix impacted vehicles in Ontario. The ministry expects Volkswagen Canada to take all necessary actions to ensure impacted vehicles in Ontario are in compliance while minimizing any inconvenience and costs to owners.”