Ontario Premier-designate Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservatives are preparing to end the province’s generous Electric and Hydrogen Vehicle Incentive Program, according to a report in The Toronto Star.
The program allows consumers to receive up to $14,000 in provincial rebates on about 20 eligible electric or fuel-cell vehicles. Funding has come from Ontario’s cap-and-trade program, which Ford has vowed to kill.
“Doug Ford has been clear that he is cancelling cap and trade and Kathleen Wynne’s climate change action plan,” Jeff Silverstein, spokesman for the premier-designate, told The Star Wednesday when asked about the future of the incentives.
Automotive News Canada reached out to several automakers, but only General Motors Canada, which sells the Chevy Volt and Bolt, responded, saying Mark Nantais, head of the Canadian Vehicles Manufacturers Association would comment on behalf of the Detroit Three. Nantais didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But, he told The Star, “electric vehicles are almost a necessity for the industry. We’d love to have some discussions about this.”
David Adams, head of the Global Automakers of Canada, said he had yet to speak with Ford but said he’d like the incentives to be kept in place for a while.
“What I can say is that without incentives it has been proven time and time again that demand tails off considerably,” Adams said in an email to Automotive News Canada. “Incentives are not needed forever but they are needed for a period of time to bridge the price gap until zero-emissions vehicles are at price parity with internal combustion engine vehicles.”
Aaron Wudrick, the federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, applauds the end of the program.
“Great news for Ontario taxpayers. If you want to buy a Tesla, great - you can pay full price for it yourself,” he tweeted with a link to the Star story.
Ford promised to find “efficiencies” in an effort to save taxpayers $6 billion without cutting jobs. He started looking — and saving — this week.
First, Ford, who will be sworn in June 29, ordered a hiring freeze for public servants, directed ministries to cancel all subscription-based services and banned them from ordering food or beverages for staff meetings and events.
The PCs followed up a day later by cancelling the GreenON Program, which provided incentives like free smart thermostats, new insulation and replacement windows to people who were making their homes more energy efficient.
Attempts by Automotive News Canada to reach the PCs to ask about the EHVIP future were unsuccessful. But the party has long opposed the program, which has been mired in controversy.
Automotive News Canada was first to report dealers were waiting up to six months for the province to reimburse them their rebates. Some dealers were owed more than $500,000. All told, dealers were owed millions of dollars until the province streamlined the payment process and issued reimbursements electronically.
Last fall, PC Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris raised the issue at Queen’s Park on Nov. 22, calling the program “a Liberal green scheme” and “costly vanity project.”