Ontario Improving Safety and Enforcement for Towing IndustryPublished on March 02, 2021
Province to Launch Joint Forces Operation Team and Tow Zone Pilot
TORONTO - The Ontario government is making our roads and highways safer by launching a Joint Forces Operation team to address violence in the towing industry and introducing a tow zone pilot on designated sections of provincial highways. Ontario's provincial towing task force has also recommended additional actions to better protect customers and improve towing industry safety, including establishing an oversight model of the towing and storage industry, exploring licencing for tow truck drivers, and introducing clearer equipment standards.
"The ongoing violence in the towing industry is unacceptable, which is why our government is taking action to make the towing industry safer through strengthened oversight and standards," said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. "Ontario's towing industry is a vital service on our roads and highways every day, and these actions will help to improve safety for all drivers."
Based on recommendations from the provincial towing task force established last year, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and municipal police services will form a Joint Forces Operation team to investigate criminal activity in the towing industry with the goal of enhancing consumer protection and public safety. The province will also launch the first phase of a pilot that would introduce restricted tow zones on designated sections of provincial highways to help clear highways faster and safer.
"As part of our government's plan to improve oversight of the towing industry, we are forming a Joint Forces Operation team led by the OPP and municipal police services to shutdown criminal activity in the towing industry that puts Ontarians in danger on our roadsides," said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. "This operation will root out criminals and ensure that decisive actions can take place to address incidents of violence in the towing industry."
In response to the recommendations of the task force, the province intends to propose legislation that would, if passed, enhance standards and improve safety. The province is also forming a new technical advisory group made up of representatives from towing companies, consumer advisory groups, automobile insurance companies, municipalities, and law enforcement organizations.
"We are thrilled to see the results of the provincial towing task force, including the introduction of a tow zone pilot that will provide faster and safer towing services to truck drivers travelling on some of Ontario's busiest highways," said Geoffrey Wood, Senior Vice President, Ontario Trucking Association. "With the introduction of this tow zone pilot, truck drivers in the Greater Toronto Area will see benefits such as faster service and standard rates for towing services."
"We commend the Ontario government for developing a plan to increase safety and oversight for the towing industry that responds to the needs of the industry," said Mark Graves, President of the Provincial Towing Association of Ontario. "Today's announcement is a positive step towards consistent oversight and improved safety for Ontario's tow truck drivers who work hard every day to provide professional service to drivers on roads and highways across the province."
- In June 2020, the province established a towing task force to increase safety and enforcement, clarify protections for customers, improve industry standards and consider tougher penalties for violators in response to concerns about violence and criminal activity in the industry.
- The task force included representatives from the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of the Solicitor General, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, the Ministry of Finance, the Ontario Provincial Police and municipal police.
- The findings are based on consultation with more than 70 stakeholders in the towing, consumer, automobile insurance, municipal and law enforcement sectors.
- From December 11, 2020 to January 15, 2021, Ontario released a survey to gather feedback from the public on their experiences with the towing industry.