Almost no one fails Drive Clean. But it’s needed anyway, Wynne argues

Newer-model cars almost never fail DriveClean tests, data from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment shows. PATRICK CAIN/GLOBAL NEWS

Despite the findings of a investigation showing that new cars almost never fail the province’s Drive Clean test, which costs drivers $30 a pop, the program must continue, argues Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“The Drive Clean program has been changed over time [and] it will continue to be changed, but anything we can do to make sure the air is clean, we are going to do that,” Wynne told reporters at a campaign event in Toronto today.

Global News obtained a trove of Drive Clean testing data from Ontario’s Environment Ministry under an access-to-information request.

Global’s investigation found that due to improved emission standards in recent years, it’s become very rare for recently made cars to fail the test. In the 2012 testing, for example, 14,825 owners of 2005 Dodge Caravans were required to have their be tested to get their licence stickers renewed – 99.1% passed.

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That was the story for virtually all the 2005 model years, which were reaching the seven-year age point where the testing rule kicks in. In the nine-month period, owners of just under 300,000 2005-model vehicles had them tested across Ontario, paying just over ten million dollars. About 95 per cent of them passed.

Among 2005-model cars, Honda CRVs did well (99.4% pass rate). So did Corollas (99.4%) and Matrixes (99.5%). Forty-two 2005 models that appear more than 100 times in the database, such as the 491 Infiniti G35Xs, had a 100% pass rate.

The story raised questions about why the Drive Clean program doesn’t focus on the shrinking number of high-polluting vehicles, and why the government isn’t using its enormous testing database to decide to decide which vehicles need to be tested and which don’t.

“Forcing drivers to waste their time and hard-earned cash to pay for an unnecessary test proves that the Liberals’ concern isn’t about the environment – it’s about the money,” says PC environment critic Michael Harris. “It was a temporary program that has now outlived its usefulness.”

A PC government would scrap the program entirely, Harris said.

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