Ontario: Drive Clean $35 Fee Reduced to $30 on April 1, 2014

Update:

The much criticized Drive Clean $35 fee is finally being reduced after years of motorists complaining that it’s a cash grab.
The much criticized Drive Clean $35 fee is finally being reduced (April 1, 2014 to $30) after years of motorists complaining that it’s a cash grab.  This program has been criticized as gouging consumers and could constitute a $19 million dollar illegal tax – given that it should be revenue neutral and isn’t.

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The much criticized Drive Clean $35 fee is finally being reduced after years of motorists complaining that Ontario’s mandatory vehicle emissions inspection is a nothing more than a cash grab.

Environment Minister Jim Bradley is to announce the fee reduction at Queen’s Park Wednesday. He has previously said Drive Clean change will make it revenue neutral — which it was originally intended to be along with being temporary.

“I have asked and am working with the minister of finance to ensure that this program becomes as it is designed to be — revenue-neutral,” Bradley said earlier this fall.

Under the program now, which was started in 1999 under the Tory government of Mike Harris, only cars older than seven years must be inspected every two years.

The Ontario auditor general’s 2012 annual report stated that Drive Clean will have achieved $50 million in profits by 2018 if the fee wasn’t curbed.

“Reducing the fees isn’t going to be good enough, Drive Cleans should be scrapped all together,” Tory transportation critic Michael Harris told the Star Tuesday.

Harris has often criticized Liberals for imposing more than $19 million in “illegal taxes.” Even the Supreme Court of Canada has frowned on so-called revenue neutral government programs being turn into a cash cow.

“It was never supposed to make money. It was set up as a temporary program with a very specific purpose of reducing vehicle emissions. The evidence shows that less than 5 per cent of vehicles are failing the test because of new fuel efficiencies and fuel standards,” he said, comparing it to 16 per cent when the program was first introduced.

British Columbia is planning to do away with its version of Drive Clean next year and six U.S. jurisdictions have already made the change.

To underscore his point that the emissions test has outlived its usefulness, Harris said he recently transferred a 2011 vehicle with about 20,000 kilometres and “I had to get an E test simply because I was transferring the lease. How does that make any sense?”

NDP MPP Gilles Bisson said there are still good environmental reasons to have the emission test “but we shouldn’t be trying to make money at this, it’s more of a service we need to offer to make sure we make vehicles as environmental friendly as possible.”

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