Ontario auditor general to release report looking at climate change, justice

Henrietta Strickland
December 6, 2019

Commercial truck drivers with a medical marijuana licence are allowed to operate their vehicles with the drug in their system in Ontario as long as they're not legally impaired, the auditor general's annual report says.

In the report, Bonnie Lysyk says the province's climate change plan is unlikely to meet its emissions-reductions targets and that the government knows it.

The auditor made 19 recommendations including appointing a Climate Change Advisory Panel - which the government recently acted on - and to base its estimates on "sound evidence". "In its current early state, the plan is not likely to achieve its proposed emission-reduction target".

"We have a plan, the auditor general didn't say it was bad", he said. "She said it needed to be tightened up", Yurek told reporters at Queen's Park. We totally agree with that. "It was an ambitious plan we ran right out of the gates with".

The plan is an evolving one, Yurek said, and going forward the government will do better to ensure its modelling is correct.

According to the Toronto Star, Ford says that the plan is on track. "If it was misrepresented on the website as the environment plan I think that's a matter of semantics".

The PCs said their plan would reduce emissions by 17.6 megatonnes by 2030.

Lysyk says the government's own analysis shows that the current initiatives in the plan will only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10.9 megatonnes. "We have a serious climate emergency in front of us".

However, Lysyk says the starting point for emissions was underestimated because it included several green programs that were actually cancelled by the Tories. "The ministry has not yet identified any planned initiatives that could increase the uptake of electric vehicles in order to achieve the estimated greenhouse gas reduction", it says.

Lysyk found that there are "no policy mechanisms" that help increase sales since cash incentives for buyers and the installation of more charging stations have been cancelled over a year ago.

Ministry inspectors are also failing to target the commercial vehicle operators with the worst safety records, the auditor said. Green Party leader Mike Schreiner alleged that the province was relying on "magic math and magic markets", and interim Liberal leader John Fraser claimed the government was "fudging" their environmental plan.

Premier Doug Ford's government spent $4 million on anti-carbon tax television, radio and online commercials as part of an ongoing campaign against the federal regulatory price on carbon emissions.

As for the electric vehicle file, Yurek confirmed to reporters that they weren't now discussing bringing back rebate programs, but he believed there would be an uptick over the next decade nonetheless - due to increasing options for such vehicles, and more charging stations.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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