Two different federal infrastructure programs have provided funding for more than 43,000 electric vehicle chargers since 2016, but fewer than one in five of them are actually operational, new data show.

The information provided by Natural Resources Canada came as Energy Minister Jonathan Wilkinson visited Quebec City Wednesday to announce another $25 million to fund 1,500 EV chargers in Quebec.

That announcement is the latest in a constant stream of EV charging announcements in local communities across Canada, as the government aims to help build 84,500 chargers by 2029.

Natural Resources Canada launched an initial program to fund up to half the cost of installing public fast EV chargers, natural gas stations and hydrogen refuelling centres in 2016. Three years later, it introduced a second program expanding the scope to include additional types of chargers.

Data supplied by the department upon request say 43,046 chargers have been funded through both programs, but only 7,644 are working.

The first program, which ended in 2020, provided funding for 1,096 EV chargers, and almost 20 per cent are still not operational. It also funded 22 natural gas stations and 15 hydrogen stations, with about 40 per cent of each yet to begin working.

The second program, which started in 2019 with a $280-million five-year investment, was to install 33,500 electric vehicle chargers by 2025. It was later expanded to run until 2027 with another $400 million in funding.

Natural Resources Canada says as of Aug. 21, 42,007 chargers have been "selected for funding" and 6,697 of those are operational.

The department's database lists 23,000 operational public charging ports in about 9.800 locations across the country, including those funded through federal programs and those paid for privately.

Less than one in five federally funded EV charging stations are operational: new data. #CDNPoli #EVChargingStations #ElectricVehicleChargers

The public funds only pay for up to half the cost of the equipment and installation.

Wednesday's announcement includes funds for Hydro-Québec, Les Petroles, Bell Canada and the Montreal-Trudeau International Airport.

An analysis for the federal government by the research firm Dunsky Energy and Climate says Canada will likely need 52,000 chargers in place by the end of 2025 and about 200,000 by 2030 to meet national sales targets for getting more EVs on the road.

A report on Aug. 25 by Electric Autonomy Canada said electric vehicle sales surged to nearly 11 per cent of total market share nationally in the spring, the highest proportion ever.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 30, 2023.

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Were they ever working, and broke, despite not much usage? Or are they "not working" because they never went live? I can't tell from this story. I don't know what's going on.

This is the problem with all this arm's-length, "incentive" based bullshit. It's just like with housing. Create a department or a crown corporation dedicated to building and maintaining the damn things, and have them start actually doing it.


After driving across the country, I can vouch for the article. Government money is given to set up public charging stations that then seem to be abandoned. With functional charging stations scarce in remote locations, it can be scary to be an e-v owner in this country.

That's really odd. We did a trip into the southern Interior of BC (Hwys 3, 6, & 97 + 17 and 1) early in August from Victoria. All of the BC Hydro fast charge stations (50 kW) worked reliably the first time. The affiliated Flo stations sometime required two tries, but delivered without incident. Only the Electrify Canada stations (cost 25+% more and are a privately owned network) gave any grief. At least half of them were out of order or malfunctioned. Our car, a 2023 Chevy Bolt, charged up within 30-40 minutes to the 80% mark while we had a coffee, lunch, breakfast, or did some shopping. Granted, the charging took longer than filling up the tank on our previous 20-old ICE car, but we were not inconvenienced. Just had to adjust a little. And driving an EV is a pleasure. (The charging stations mentioned were supported in part by federal dollars to the best of my knowledge.)

It's great to read a counter argument based on one's on-the-ground experience. Of course, BC Hydro is a provincial public utility and would offer a different standard of charging experience than other provinces or the private sector. The feds need to get more involved in not just funding but in developing higher national standards in both design and operations. Maybe even build a national EV charging network while building a national smart grid for renewables.