08/11/2011 04:41 EDT | Updated 10/11/2011 05:12 EDT

Electric Vehicles Charging Forward in Ontario

AP File

Ontarians got some good news recently with an announcement that the government will provide $80 million to spur development and investment in electric car charging stations.

Have no doubt; electric vehicles (EVs) are the way of the future. From an environmental perspective, they are more energy efficient and dovetail well with the province's push to build out renewable energy. And as oil becomes more and more expensive, they are looking increasingly attractive from an economic perspective, too. It's just a matter of time before EVs become a common sight on our roads, and with respect to time, sooner would be better than later. The faster we transition, the sooner our air will benefit and the sooner costs will come down.

And in Ontario, there's a further reason to support the adoption of EVs: Jobs. Automotive manufacturing fueled a generation of economic growth, but that sector has been hit hard in recent years. Green manufacturing is the most promising way to reverse this decline and secure high quality jobs for the future. And good policy is important here. Since the Green Energy Act was passed in 2009, more than 30 businesses have announced they are setting up or expanding plants in Ontario to manufacture parts for the solar and wind industries. And we are beginning to attract EV manufacturing already. Just last week, Toyota announced that they will make their RAV4 EV here in Ontario. And it's not just about attracting new firms. Existing firms, like Mississauga-based battery maker, Electrovaya, will benefit too.

To be sure, there are those who think the government should stay out of these things. The truth is, Ontario's move will keep us in step with the world's leading economies.

For example, there are already about 1,000 EV charging points in the UK, and there are plans to install 4000 more by the end of 2012, thanks to government support. And there are also plans in place to install 20 battery switch stations across Denmark. And it's not just Europe. Israel too has an ambitious plan which will allow drivers to travel anywhere in the country in an electric car, even though its range may be only 160 km, and China aims to put more than a million electric vehicles onto the road each year by 2015. In fact, Ontario isn't even alone in Canada. The Quebec government recently announced plans put 300,000 electric cars on the road within the next decade.

So, it's good news that our government is supporting this transition to EVs. Our environment, pocket books and our economy will all be better off. EVs allow Ontario to stop sending our dollars away to import expensive and dirty oil, and instead create jobs at home by powering our cars with local, green electricity.