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Electric vehicle infrastructure lags in Prairie provinces

A 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E charges, Friday, March 8, 2024, at an electric vehicle charging station in London, Ohio. (Joshua A. Bickel / AP Photo, File) A 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E charges, Friday, March 8, 2024, at an electric vehicle charging station in London, Ohio. (Joshua A. Bickel / AP Photo, File)

The Prairies, along with Newfoundland and Labrador, trail the rest of the country in electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure.

Unless you’re travelling on a major highway or through a big city, Jerilyn Nixon, secretary of the Saskatchewan Electric Vehicle Association, said it can be a challenge to find chargers, especially in rural areas and the northern half of Saskatchewan.

"It's not about just getting people through the province with EVs. It’s also about wanting to bring people into tourist destinations," she said.

"We need charging stations in every small town, every museum, mall (and) even grocery stores because not everyone has access to home chargers."

P.E.I. has the most charging ports per capita at 16 per 10,000 people, while the Prairie provinces and Newfoundland and Labrador have the lowest at three.

The number of EV charging ports across the country has tripled over the past five years, putting Canada at just over 30,000 ports in nearly 12,000 stations, according to data from Natural Resources Canada.

But the country is still a long way from the projected 442,000 to 469,000 charging ports needed to meet EV needs by 2035.

"It is, at the end of the day, the consumer that is making a choice on what they will purchase or not purchase," said Tim Reuss, CEO of the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association.

"If we are not able to meet their necessities and their requirements in their communities and their environment, we will not be successful in the transition to 2035."

Automotive industry leaders say it is up to the provinces and federal government to help increase incentives and charging infrastructure. If they don’t, the industry doesn’t believe it can reach the federal mandate of 100 per cent EV sales by 2035.

"Canadians need provincial and federal action to build reliable charging infrastructure and supports for purchasing zero emissions for every sector of the market,” Reuss said.

Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario are the only provinces that do not have provincial electric vehicle purchase incentives.

In 2018, Ontario repealed its program that offered a $14,000 purchase rebate. Saskatchewan charges an annual road-use fee of $150 for registered EV owners.

B.C. and Quebec are the clear EV leaders in Canada, according to Joanna Kyriazis, Clean Energy Canada’s director of public affairs.

"If you look at the levels of EV adoption in those two provinces, we're looking at between 22 per cent and 25 per cent of new car sales are electric," Kyriazis said.

Besides P.E.I., Quebec and B.C. have the most electric vehicle charging ports per capita in the country at roughly 10 per 10,000 people. Ontario has less than six.

"We (Ontario) have no access to consumer rebates for EVs, our public charging network is far behind where B.C. and Quebec’s is, and we're feeling the impacts of that even though we're the home of where EVs and their batteries are going to be manufactured," Kyriazis said.

B.C. offers rebates up to $4,000, while EV buyers can receive up to $8,000 in Quebec. Both provinces recently announced upcoming plans that would pare back the programs. Top Stories

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