October 21, 2018
A Drive Clean emissions test sign hangs over a testing bay door in Kitchener, Ont., on Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2018. Photo by Terry Foster

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced last week that the government will scrap the Drive Clean mandatory emissions testing program as of April 1, 2019.

The Ford government decided to end the testing as part of their agenda to eliminate “inefficiencies” within the provincial budget without cutting jobs. What this plan did not include was any compensation to the many Ontario businesses who invested thousands into equipment that will now be obsolete, or the hundreds of businesses around the province whose sole revenue stream is performing those tests.

Many automotive shops will feel some of the impact as a large percentage of shops invested thousands into the equipment and training required to perform the testing. There is also the concern that fewer people will be forced to repair vehicles that may require maintenance, causing more unsafe vehicles on the road.

Rick Myers, owner of Myers Auto Body, in Kitchener, Ont., doesn’t do emissions testing, but does feel that his business will not be immune to the impact.

“We get a lot of business from people making repairs because they failed the test,” he said. “The 95-per-cent pass rate is misleading. Most shops will tell you that if your engine light is on, that it will automatically fail. People will fix the issue before taking the test. So the numbers don’t really reflect the facts.”

Keith Richardson, a mechanic at Myers Auto Body, believes that owners still need to be made accountable to keep their cars up to standards.

“They still need to put something in place to make sure people are maintaining their vehicle” said Richardson.

Myers and Richardson did both agree that the program didn’t really have a big impact where it really counted and were in favour of the government decision. They also said that, with most modern cars already very efficient, the testing ignored the biggest offenders. Vehicles manufactured before 1988 were exempt from the requirement and most of them pre-date most modern emission advancements.

They did express concern for businesses such as D.S. Auto Testing, on Victoria Road, that rely on the program as the sole income source. With drivers no longer required to get the test, businesses like this will lose most of their market. The majority of businesses affected by this move have other primary services and emissions were only a small portion of their sales.

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