Mediaplanet: How is the Ontario government currently working to increase the use of electric vehicles amongst private residents? Are there rebates available?

Steven Del Duca: We’re encouraging more Ontarians to purchase electric vehicles through our programs and by reducing the barriers to EV adoption.

The Electric Vehicle Chargers Ontario program (EVCO) is building close to 500 charging stations across Ontario, including in cities, along highways and at workplaces, and in public places.

We modernized the Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (EVIP) to make EVs more affordable and to provide incentives for vehicles with large batteries and a greater capacity to carpool. The program provides an incentive ranging from $3,000 to $14,000, based on the vehicle’s battery capacity and the number of seats.

The electric vehicle charging infrastructure program (EVCIP) provides up to $500 or 50 percent of the cost (whichever is lower) for both the purchase and installation of Level 2 private home or workplace charging stations.

We also have the green licence plate program that allows single-occupant plug-in hybrid, battery electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on provincial HOV and HOT lanes.

MP: How is the Ontario government working with business to facilitate the transition towards electrified fleets and low-carbon trucks?

SDD: In 2016, the ministry launched public consultations on proposed plans to implement the ministry’s EV-related actions in the Climate Change Action Plan, including private fleet awareness campaigns.

A discussion paper was posted to the Environmental Registry seeking feedback on two proposals:

  •   Simple, effective materials that clearly communicate program eligibility and application procedures for government incentive programs.
  •   Developing a tool that allows fleets to calculate the potential savings from integrating EVs.

The ministry has reviewed the feedback and is exploring options for improving awareness among private fleet owners and operators of the benefits of EVs. We expect to start work on a campaign in 2017–18.

Through the CCAP, the ministry is also working on developing a Modernized Green Commercial Vehicle Program to incentivize eligible businesses to invest in low-carbon commercial vehicles and technologies to reduce emissions from commercial transportation, including electric and natural gas-powered trucks, aerodynamic devices, anti-idling devices, and electric trailer refrigeration.

MP: Public transit is a key issue in this area — what action is currently being undertaken to not only grow Ontario’s public transit but ensure that we are growing it with sustainable, innovative technologies?

SDD: The government’s Moving Ontario Forward plan is investing $31.5 billion over 10 years for transit transportation, and other priority infrastructure projects.
Ontario has also identified GO Regional Express Rail (RER) as a top priority for investment in the GTHA. This service will provide faster and more frequent service on the GO Rail network, with electrification in core areas.

Through the implementation of GO RER, Ontario will benefit from additional transportation options and GHG reductions from:

  •   Fleet transition (from diesel to electric locomotives and electrical multiple units).
  •   Mode shift (as new transit riders opt to use GO RER).

In addition, sharing of provincial gas tax revenues with municipalities through the Gas Tax Program contributes to local public transit improvements, helping to get people out of their cars and onto public transit, managing traffic congestion while keeping our air clean.

MP: What do you think the future holds for electric transportation in Ontario? Do you see Ontario becoming a Canadian leader in this space? What do we need to do to get there?

SDD: A shift to low- and zero-emission vehicles is vital to Ontario achieving its greenhouse gas reduction target of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
The transportation sector is currently the largest contributor of GHG emissions in Ontario, contributing approximately 35% (60.2 megatonnes or Mt) of GHG emissions in 2014.

Ontario is positioned to become a North American leader in low- and zero-emission transportation. Measures in the Climate Change Action Plan will help to increase the use of electric vehicles in the province and increase access and availability of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The plan includes a goal of achieving a province-wide electric and hydrogen passenger new vehicle sales target of five percent in 2020, and also outlines actions that the province intends to take to reduce emissions from the transportation sector.