Death of the Ontario Electric Vehicle Program

The fight to increase electric vehicle sales in Canada is s l o w … and fraught to hell with complications. A patchwork of policies exist across the nation that are each trying to increase the number of electric cars on the roads so that perhaps, we may eventually come close to our national greenhouse gas reduction targets. BC has the highest Carbon Tax in North America, Quebec has a cutting-edge mandate which requires auto-manufacturers to sell a certain number of electric cars, and Ontario has incentives for electric vehicle buyers. The transportation sector makes up a good ¼ of our national emissions, so electrifying our cars is becoming increasingly necessary to stay in line with Canada’s ‘green’ goal of reducing our emissions by 30% by 2030…

That goal is seeming even more lofty this week as Ontario conservative leader Doug Ford has announced that he is killing the Ontario electric vehicle rebate program, which offers up to $14,000 in incentives to consumers wishing to buy an electric vehicle. The cherry on top of this rotten cake? Ford announced that the savings from axing this program will go towards reducing the Ontario gas tax by 10 cents per litre. Not only is Ontario losing an important initiative that supports a transition to cleaner vehicles, but the ease-up on gas prices is likely to spike gas consumption and of course, increase emissions.

My current Masters research is looking at electric vehicle policies in Canada, and these are definitely interesting and often infuriating times. Norway is a leading nation in terms of electric vehicle sales due largely to their incentive program similar to the one being scrapped in Ontario. Time and time again we see evidence that once incentives stop, demand for electric vehicles is dramatically reduced as well. This means that, at least for now until electric vehicles are on-par with internal combustion engines price-wise, we NEED these incentives.

For now, the patchwork of province-wide electric vehicle programs (or slashing of programs...) continues. The federal government is releasing a national strategy for electric vehicles by the end of this year, so it will be interesting to watch and see what happens over the second half of this year.