An electric-vehicle charging spot in a University of B.C. parking lot: The B.C. government is scaling back its EV incentive program.
Gerry Kahrmann / PNG files
Opinion: With the climate-change emergency, why cut the rebate on electric vehicles now?If you’re in the market for an electric car these days, the John Horgan government didn’t do you any favours last weekend.In fact, they effectively plucked $2,000 out of your wallet without a word of warning.In a misleading news release issued Saturday morning, the government quietly announced it was cutting the provincial rebate for a new electric vehicle from $5,000 to $3,000. The reason? The government says the rebate was a victim of its own success and the program was running out of money.There’s one problem with that: Just a month ago, the government said everything was fine with the program.Liberal environment critic Peter Milobar saw this one coming when he questioned Energy Minister Michelle Mungall in the legislature.“Can the minister explain where the extra money for the clean-vehicle program is supposed to come from 18 weeks from now when it’s completely drained and out of money?” Milobar asked.Mungall said electric-car sales had picked up because buyers were also cashing in on a new federal-rebate program, getting double the bang for their buck.But Mungall said sales were now expected to slow.“It has already started to taper off,” she said May 13. “We’re starting to see that purchasing slow. We don’t anticipate to have the same type of sales happen throughout the rest of the year.”Besides, Mungall said, if sales still remained strong the government could dip into contingency funds.Yet here we are a month later and the government has slashed the rebate by $2,000 — a 40-per-cent cut.Don’t forget this is the same government that has continued to jack up the carbon tax, while cancelling the previous Liberal government’s requirement that the tax be revenue-neutral. Revenue neutrality meant any increase in the carbon tax had to be legally offset by decreases in other taxes. Instead, the New Democrats decided to spend carbon-tax money on measures to fight greenhouse-gas emissions.Measures like encouraging people to switch to an electric vehicle, for example. But despite billions of carbon-tax dollars flowing into government coffers, they still decided to reduce the popular electric-car rebate.“They’re underfunding their signature program and dumping the rest of that money into general revenue,” Milobar said.The government’s climate-change plan — called Clean B.C. — also calls for industrial rebates to encourage big-polluting operations to clean up their acts.But Milobar wonders if the government is capable of delivering on its bold plans given what’s happened with the electric-car rebates.“If they can’t manage something as simple as a car-rebate program, how are they going to manage something as complex as pulp-mill rebates or forestry rebates or cement-plant rebates?” he asked.Good question. Time will provide the answer. In the meantime, you’ll have to dig a little deeper for that electric firstname.lastname@example.org/MikeSmythNewsCLICK HERE to report a typo. Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email email@example.com.