A Preliminary Study of the Environmental and Social Costs Associated with Private Car Use in Ontario
This 1991 study was a preliminary interdisciplinary analysis of the impact of the car on Ontario’s economy and environment. The report notes that manufacturing cars and supporting activities accounted for 9 per cent of Canada’s GDP in 1990, and 47 per cent of car-related jobs in Canada are in Ontario.
The price for Ontario’s dependence on cars is, however, very high. Massive costs stem from the harmful impacts of auto dependence on land use planning, the environment and human health.
Moreover, drivers pay only part of the costs that arise from the use of their cars; essentially, drivers are being subsidized to pollute Ontario’s land, air and water. The costs of the car are reflected in government spending: government car-related expenditures in Ontario are over $4.5 billion each year. This included, in 1990: about $1,173 million each year in car-related interest on the provincial debt; federal, provincial and municipal governments annual spending of $1.9 billion on highway construction and maintenance in Ontario; and federal government spending of roughly $5 million on road safety in Ontario each year.
In addition, the authors estimated: municipal spending in Ontario of about $500 million and Ontario Provincial Police spending of about $226 million on car-related policing each year and Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) payments of about $80 million for car accident-related health care. An estimated $646 million in health care costs in Ontario for disease attributable to car-related air pollution.
Finally, the authors show that in 1991 there were at least $20 million in direct subsidies or tax relief to the Ontario auto and petroleum industries.