Manitoba's environment critic is hoping to electrify transportation in the province using an interest-free loan incentive.
NDP MLA Rob Altemeyer says he wants to see more electric cars on Manitoba roads, and wants the province to offer a no-interest loan on purchases of electric vehicles — including buses — for individuals and municipalities, using revenue from the carbon tax proposed by the federal government.
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"Obviously we reduce our emissions and we manage to employ more people in Manitoba in green jobs, but we also end up saving money, and that's because electric buses and electric vehicles are so incredibly cheap to operate," Altemeyer said Saturday.
Altemeyer said an interest-free loan has the advantage over rebate programs already in effect in other provinces, because it would be less costly to the province and make typically expensive electric vehicles accessible to more buyers.
"I sense that there's a lot of pent-up demand out there. People want to do the right thing, but they just can't find a way, and it's not their fault," he said. "They can't afford to try and spend a lot more money on a new car than they would ordinarily."
Province 'open to ideas'
In a written statement sent to CBC by her office, Sustainable Development Minister Cathy Cox said the province "has been clear in its efforts to develop a made-in-Manitoba approach to addressing the challenges of climate change."
"Manitoba deserves a plan that fosters emissions reductions, retains investment capital, and stimulates new innovation in clean technology," Cox said in the statement.
"We are open to ideas that achieve these goals, but we will allow our consultations and input from Manitobans to guide the outcome of a plan that addresses the needs of our province."
Cox said the province will share the results of its plan "in the very near future."
Altemeyer says Manitoba is already "light-years ahead" of other provinces in terms of infrastructure for electric driving. Electric cars can be charged in some outlets already found in parking spaces across the province, he said.
"It's almost like we were made to be world leaders in the use of electric vehicles," Altemeyer said.
Altemeyer is collecting public input about the idea through an online survey on the NDP caucus website.