Doug Ford torpedoed electric vehicle charging requirement in Building Code
Feature Image Alexis Wright/The Pointer

Doug Ford torpedoed electric vehicle charging requirement in Building Code

When Tim Burrows bought his first electric vehicle in 2013, he and his wife took a trip down east and around the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island. It was pretty novel for the time. 

Less than 3,000 of the 1.78 million vehicles purchased that year were electric while the fear of being stranded nowhere near a charger was so stress inducing that even the most committed environmentalists thought twice about taking the leap.

Chargers were few and far between.

The range on a fully charged battery was much less than what can be achieved today, and the comparative cost of electric vehicles was even more lopsided than what consumers face now.

Despite the sacrifices and challenges around planning the trip, everything was going well for Burrows and his wife, until they started to turn west back home. 

“I had lots of range to my next stop. And then we hit hurricane winds that were head on. We were driving right into it,” he tells The Pointer. “And I watched my range as we went down the Trans Canada go from, ‘I'm going to have 20 percent when I get to the next charger, [then] 15, [then] 10.’ I got down to about six.”

He figured out a solution. He got behind a transport truck and drafted behind, his eyes burned on the dashboard’s battery percentage display, which slowly crept back up. It was the only time, he says, in more than 300,000 kilometres of driving an EV that he feared being stranded.

“There is a limitation of gas too. You just have to learn what the limit is,” Burrows says.

The shift to green vehicles has recently slowed after unexpectedly rapid growth in sales from 2017 to 2023. According to Statistics Canada data, in 2017 the country had 43,817 new registrations for battery electric, hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid electric cars (combined), just over five percent of total vehicle registrations. By 2023 the number had ballooned to 320,256, almost 19 percent of all new vehicle registrations, with battery electrics climbing more than 1,500 percent since 2017.

But the trend has recently slowed, as manufacturers point to a number of factors. Many “early adopters”, those consumers who like to be at the forefront of technological innovation and/or buyers who prioritize sustainability, have already bought into the green vehicle market (critics suggest many consumers who purchase certain high-priced EVs are more interested in status). The challenge will be the next 80 percent or so, as the high cost of EVs and ongoing concerns about the lack of charging infrastructure leave more buyers on the fence. 

Tesla reported a nine-percent drop in its first quarter revenue in 2024, the biggest decline the company has seen since 2012, and is promising to begin production of a low-cost model ($25,000 US) very soon. 

Ford reported its electric vehicle unit lost $1.3 billion (US) in the first quarter alone.

While registrations for each of the three categories declined in Canada during the first quarter of 2024 compared to the previous quarter, they were still well above figures for the same period in 2023, which was a record setting year.

Cost of living increases have been another challenge to break into the mainstream market, but high fuel costs could also drive more consumers to EVs.

“‘EV curious’ is a term that I've heard the industry use a lot,” Jennifer French, MPP for Oshawa and NDP official opposition critic for transportation and infrastructure, tells The Pointer. “And in my own experience in the community, there is a lot of interest. People want to be part of what's coming. But they want to have options and choices.” 


NDP MPP Jennifer French is a proponent of the auto industry and is passionate about incentivizing the transition to electric vehicles.

(Screengrab Government of Ontario/Youtube)


“There is a delay in the market right now, and it has nothing to do, as my friends [the PC Party] might attest, with controversies over nuclear energy or environmental programs,” NDP MPP Joel Harden said on June 5 in the legislature when a motion was brought forward to require electric vehicle charging infrastructure in new homes and buildings. “It has to do with making sure that we have the charging infrastructure for the next generation of electric vehicles right here in Ontario.” 

According to the Pembina Institute, in Ontario, there is approximately one public charger for every 25 electric vehicles on the road, compared to the global ratio of one to eight. 


Electric vehicle chargers are hard to find in most parts of Canada.

(Government of Canada)


On the last day before the summer break, Ontario legislators debated a motion brought forward by French mirroring the private member’s Bill 199 EV Ready Homes which would include a provision for the mandatory installation of basic electrical equipment that would allow chargers to be added as part of the construction of all new homes, under the Building Code.

“We are not EV-ready, and we are falling behind. We need a serious EV strategy to grow development, manufacturing and the charging infrastructure. We need EV-ready homes,” she said in her opening address. 

While French said she recognizes the benefits of offering EV rebates cancelled by Doug Ford and his PC government immediately after the 2018 election, and it is something the NDP will put in place if they govern following the 2026 election, she believes the biggest barrier to EV adoption is the lack of infrastructure in place which makes owning an EV less accessible.

“When I have met with industry folks and talked to them about the importance of being ready in terms of infrastructure, they have said that of course rebates are important. But there is also this question of a barrier that folks perceive, that they won't consider buying electric, if they will not be able to charge it,” she told The Pointer.

She said the inclusion of the EV rough-in provision in the Building Code is such a simple act that would have a profound impact on the government’s ability to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles. 

“Charging infrastructure, specifically at-home infrastructure, is part of that EV ecosystem. People won’t buy them if they can’t charge them, and there is more that we can do,” French said in the legislature.

Many PCs clapped back with the argument that amending the Building Code to require EV-supportive building features would increase the cost of homes, something that would not be conducive to fighting the affordability crisis. French argued that adding the infrastructure from the get-go is actually the more affordable solution.

The costs of upgrading a home to allow for electric vehicle charging can be as much as $3,000 to $5,000.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, pre-wiring for a Level 2 charger costs between $500 and $1,500.

“This is a deterrent for anyone looking to get off of fossil fuels and into an electric vehicle,” French said.

The motion was defeated, but French said the NDP will continue to fight for electric vehicle infrastructure, stressing that the solution needs to be government-led.

“The NDP certainly knows that starting at home is a part of it, but also strengthening the infrastructure across the province and working with partners to make sure that folks can charge whether at home or at work or on the road,” she told The Pointer. “That's certainly something we support.”

According to an interactive mapping tool on the Government of Canada website, there are 11,500 publicly available Level 2 and DC fast chargers across the country. According to the Canadian 2022 Natural Retail Petroleum Site Census, there were just shy of 12,000 retail gas stations operating in Canada as of December 31, 2022. While the numbers are similar, each gas station can service as many as 12 vehicles simultaneously in as little as five minutes, while each EV charger can only service one vehicle at a time which can take up to an hour or more. 

While it is different for every vehicle, in optimal conditions the average range of an internal combustion vehicle is between 450 and 600 kilometres. The average mid-range EV has a range between 200 and 450 kilometres and high-end EVs can have ranges up to 1,000 kilometres. 

The federal government estimates that 442,000 to 469,000 public charging stations will be needed across the country by 2035 to support its policy of 100 percent new vehicle purchases being electric by the same year.

As of last year, the PC government reported there were about 1,800 public charging stations across Ontario with more than 5,000 charging ports. This is miles away from where the province needs to be to meet the federal government’s targets.

Under the federal Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program and Electric Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Deployment Initiative, as of April 2022, Natural Resources Canada had approved projects to build over 22,000 chargers. 

Many businesses have taken it upon themselves to offer EV chargers in their parking lots, either free of charge, or for a fee, but industry experts have made it clear that a full transition away from internal combustion vehicles will require houses and apartments to have their own charging units because relying on external infrastructure will cause widespread problems.

“That can't be enough to support folks who drive up to rural communities, especially in the summer. People like to get away and go where it's off the beaten path. Well, they might be able to get there, but then they can't get home if they're dependent on the charging infrastructure along the way,” French said, emphasizing the need for a government-led solution. 

Some municipalities, including Vancouver, penalize certain commercial operations that do not provide the means to charge electric vehicles, but recognize the priority of home-based infrastructure.

Kamloops has taken a lead. The B.C. city passed a bylaw that mandates EV charging requirements in all new residential developments and as of last year under municipal law all new residential buildings have to have Level 2 EV charging infrastructure for at least one parking space per unit. 

It is the type of bold, forward looking leadership French wants to see inside Queen’s Park.

The 2024 international auto show included EVs and a range of new charging units.

(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)


The Ford government has repeatedly said it supports the EV industry through investments in the auto sector and policies to expand mining for resources critical to battery production. 

Allowing Canada to take advantage of the market shift to electric vehicles and avoid paying tariffs on vehicles made in other countries, is certainly a key to the country’s EV strategy, industry analysts have said, but without adequate, accessible and efficient charging infrastructure, owning an EV will be more challenging for Ontarians. 

In 2022, the Ontario government announced the opening of Canada’s first full-scale electric vehicle manufacturing plant in Ingersoll.

“Today’s exciting, made-in-Ontario milestone is more proof that there is no better place to build the cars of the future from start to finish than right here in Ontario,” Premier Ford said in a press release at the time. “From the critical minerals in the north to our manufacturing excellence in the south, Ontario has every advantage and will continue to build on our legacy as a global automotive leader for decades to come.”

More recently in April, the Premier, along with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, welcomed an investment by Honda Canada of approximately $15 billion to create the country’s first comprehensive electric vehicle supply chain, located in Ontario, as part of more than $30 billion in investments manufacturers have made in Canada’s EV sector over the past four years.

The PC government has not married these investments with the infrastructure needed to support the inevitable EV transition mandated by the federal government’s target of ending non-EV production by 2035. Drivers in B.C., Quebec and elsewhere will enjoy the type of EV ecosystem that will ensure a smooth transition. French and other opposition politicians question why the government that sets the agenda for 40 percent of Canadians is not following suit. 

“We have a responsibility to support the market. We can’t only support the auto manufacturers in building the vehicles. We want them to be able to sell them so that they will keep making them here,” she said in the legislature.

Before the Ontario Liberals were voted out of office in 2018, former premier Kathleen Wynne set in place changes to the Ontario Building Code to support EV charging in residential buildings. But along with the cancellation of over 700 renewable energy contracts and the scrapping of the electric vehicle rebate program, Premier Ford immediately removed this provision from the Building Code. 

French wants it back.

“I'm a girl from Oshawa. So it was a priority for me to focus an initiative on electric vehicle readiness, especially because being someone who supports the automotive industry, we want to make sure that we have that bright electrified future,” she told The Pointer. 

Inside Queen’s Park, she said: “I want this government to reverse course and undo their undo.”



Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @rachelnadia_

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