Auto Service World
News   September 28, 2018   by Adam Malik

Ontario to scrap Drive Clean

Program to end April 1, 2019; government to target heavy-duty vehicles instead


The Ontario government says it is scrapping the Drive Clean vehicle emissions testing program and replacing it with a new system that will focus on heavy-duty vehicles such as transport trucks.

The Progressive Conservative government says the Drive Clean program, which tests emissions every two years on cars and light-duty trucks over seven years old, is outdated and no longer effective.

In a news conference Friday, Premier Doug Ford said the program worked well when it was introduced in 1999 and but grew less useful as the automotive industry adopted more stringent emissions standards.

“Drive Clean was created almost 20 years ago but 20 years later, the family car now creates much less pollution. So Drive Clean has outlived its usefulness,” he said.

Only five per cent of vehicles failed the test last year, compared with 16 per cent in 1999, and the trend is expected to continue, the government said.

“Drive Clean was created almost 20 years ago but 20 years later, the family car now creates much less pollution. So Drive Clean has outlived its usefulness.”

— Doug Ford, Ontario premier

The Tories said a new program will be introduced to target emissions from heavy-duty vehicles, which they say have weaker emissions standards and get replaced less frequently.

“With the light-duty vehicle program gone, we will be able to better focus … on the biggest polluters on the road: transport trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles,” Environment Minister Rod Phillips said.

“More vehicles will be tested and almost twice as many polluting vehicles will be repaired. This means tougher on-road inspections, stronger enforcement that will ensure owners are accountable and properly maintaining their vehicle’s emissions.”

The government said the proposed changes will be subject to a 30-day public consultation, and are scheduled to take effect on April 1, 2019. It further said the move is expected to save the province $40 million each year.

The previous Liberal government made the test free last year and proposed a pilot project that would allow the test to be carried out remotely through on-board diagnostics.

Drive Clean has previously come under fire for amassing multimillion-dollar surpluses, even though it was supposed to be a revenue neutral program. Ontario’s former auditor general warned in 2012 that could land the province in legal trouble, because it’s a user fee, not a tax.


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6 Comments » for Ontario to scrap Drive Clean
  1. Bob Ward says:

    If the government agencies are focused on public safety then this is an opportune time to implement safety inspections every two years to make the roadways safer for all. Commercial vehicles have it so why not the larger number of vehicles as well. There are too many unsafe vehicles being driven today. Even the government is mandating safety so practice what you preach Mr. Ford.

    • Nancy says:

      I agree with this 100%. There are too many cars on the road that should not be there. You see holes in the floors, tires barely holding on, so many things that make me cringe to think I may be driving next to this car someday soon.

  2. Bryan Schinkel says:

    It’s possible the reason there are so many less emission test fails after 20 years is because drivers are making sure their vehicle is ready for the test before it’s done. As a service provider, we see many vehicles come into our shop to prepare for they’re e-test before going. Now they can carry on driving with the engine light on. Bad move Doug.

  3. George S says:

    We’re eventually going to be subject to similar checks to what’s going on in the United States. But let’s make sure that they do some good and the fees/fines don’t become a cash-grab. Safety checks? Yes! Absolutely. It scares me to death to see some of the junk on the roads with only one wheel brake working; there were times we could legally drop the door on those and keep them off the road if the customer refused to repair them. The things that need to be removed from the streets are the diesel coal-rollers. I see them out west and I bristle every time I get behind one of them at a stop light and get my vehicle completely enshrowded in smoke when they pull away. I’ve noticed that just south of the border, they’re busting them, no matter where their home 40 happens to be. I fully support that here…

  4. First of all thank you for reminding everyone of the ‘revenue neutral’ promise made at the start of the program and how Drive Clean made their profits and then some. Funny how the media fails to mention this to consumers. I cringe when I read or hear about how the program took vehicles off the road and improved emissions by having clients repair their vehicles. The worst polluters were given a conditional pass with minimal expense and sent on their merry way. Meanwhile a few voluntarily went ahead with repairs as they understood the benefits and were able to manage the expense. Conditional passes should never have been a way out for clients whose vehicles should not have been on the road. I’m all for mandatory safety inspections on light duty vehicles every 2 years but without conditional passes thank you!

  5. Bob Ward says:

    Premiere Ford is scrapping the program because it is a huge government expense no because it is out lived. Bryan made a very good point. People know the test is needed for license renewal so they get their vehicles ready. I applaud the government’s change to have only 1 conditional pass but not the elimination of the test for vehicle purchase. This program should not be scrapped. It forces the public to maintain their vehicles to some degree which improves air quality and fuel efficiency so we all win.

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