Ontario Environment Minister Rod Phillips (centre) with Minister of Transportation John Yakabuski (left) and Premier Doug Ford

The Ontario government today announced it is scrapping the province's light-duty vehicle emissions testing program in April 2019. 

Citing a reduction in vehicles that fail emissions testing from 16 percent in 1999 to 5 percent last year, the government says that testing for light-duty vehicles is no longer needed. Instead, the provincial environment and transportation ministries will increase scrutiny on heavy-duty vehicles, including "commercial transport trucks."

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says that by following through on its pre-election promise to cut the Drive Clean program for light-duty vehicles, his government will save the province's taxpayers $40 million every year.

In March 2017, the previous Ontario Liberal government eliminated the $30 fee charged to drivers required to have their cars' emissions tested bi-annually before renewing license plate tags. In the run-up to June's provincial election, the Liberals had further promised to transition Drive Clean to a remote testing program in which cars would be evaluated without the need to visit a provincial test facility.

Ontario's environment ministry says it is switching its focus to heavy-duty vehicles to help reduce smog-forming nitrogen oxides and cancer-causing fine particulate matter.

Under the current heavy-duty vehicle testing regime, trucks seven years and older are tested annually using a smoke test; the proposed new program would add a test of the vehicle's on-board diagnostics system to better assess "the state of (its) emissions systems."