The Quebec government is trying to get more people to make the switch to electric vehicles by adding more than 116,000 additional charging stations to the province — an investment of more than $514 million over the next five years.
Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) made the announcement on the first day of its pre-sessional caucus in Saguenay, Que., Thursday morning.
The party is gathered in Jonquière to outline plans for the fall legislative session, which is set to resume on Sept. 12, and it says climate change is at the top of its priority list.
“It’s not the only solution but it’s part of the solution,” said Environment Minister Benoit Charette. “At the end if we want to reach our goals we know that we will need many many options.”
This is the second major electric vehicle announcement the government has made this week alone, following Tuesday’s news of a new copper foil factory in Granby to help produce car batteries.
Some environmental groups say the province’s shift to electric vehicles is a good start, but won’t be enough if the province wants to fulfill its goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050.
Energy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon himself admitted last month the province would have to drastically decrease its number of cars, including electric vehicles, to meet that goal.
Patrick Bonin, climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada in Montreal, believes electric vehicles can be part of the solution, but says the province needs to increase its public transit offer significantly — especially when it comes to interregional transport.
“There is still an impact to produce those electric cars, including obviously the batteries, impact on biodiversity, impact on climate change,” said Bonin. “What we need is to reduce the number of cars and make sure that those we can’t remove from the road are the least polluting possible.”
Meanwhile, the CAQ says it’s already done a lot to make that more affordable and appealing to users, and it plans to increase the province’s transit offer further.
“I think we have to continue investing in collective transportation, like we’re doing in Montreal, in Quebec, in other large cities,” said Premier François Legault. “What we want is for the remaining cars, especially in the regions, that we switch to electric cars.”
The government hopes to get two million electric cars on the road by 2030. The province currently has over 200,000, but the environment minister says that number has been increasing steadily.
The CAQ’s caucus meeting is expected to wrap up in Jonquière Friday.