by Brandon Mayer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Last month, news broke that Ontario would be eliminating the need to pay yearly registration fees for most types of vehicles in the province. Fees were eliminated for passenger vehicles, light commercial vehicles, motorcycles, and mopeds, but remained for larger commercial vehicles, such as transport trucks. However, what may not be clear to some Ontario residents is that, even though the fees have been eliminated, the requirement to register vehicles, and to renew that registration every year, has not. While this may seem to serve little purpose, it is intended to force vehicle owners to pay outstanding fines (registration cannot be renewed otherwise), and it also allows the province to check for liability insurance, which is mandatory.
An unfortunate rumour has been circulating online recently, particularly on social media, stating that the $120 annual vehicle registration fee in Southern Ontario would be replaced with mandatory annual vehicle inspections, at a cost of approximately $300, with any issues found meaning more expenses for the vehicle owner, due to the cost of repairs. To be clear, this is nothing more than a myth. Some jurisdictions, particularly in the USA, do require annual vehicle inspections, but this is simply not the case in Ontario.
The question as to who would start such a rumour seems obvious – anyone whose politics don’t align with those of Ontario Premier Doug Ford would be motivated to pit the public against him, whether by using truthful information, or not. But how should one go about separating fact from fiction when it comes to online “news” that is actually myth and rumour designed to inflame and mislead?
The first step in spotting internet lies is to trust your instincts, particularly in regards to individual social media posts with no sources, or external links. For example, anyone who has ever had to have a safety inspection done after buying a used vehicle knows that a base inspection for a car not in need of repairs should not cost $300 – average prices are closer to the $100 mark. After using instincts and common sense to develop skepticism of an online “news” report that simply doesn’t ring true, search for the same news in a reputable source, such as the website of a news organization, or in the print edition of a newspaper. Even if you don’t find anything, you will have your answer – if the myth was true, why hasn’t it made it into the news?
For countless Ontario vehicle owners, the truth about vehicle registration renewal will come as a great source of relief.