Province increasing oversight of towing industry

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / Panama

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has put unscrupulous towing operators on notice.

The provincial government unveiled a provincial task force Monday afternoon, which is expected to improve oversight of the towing industry. Details were announced at Queens Park by Ford, Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.

Representatives from the Ministries of Transportation, Labour, Finance, Municipal Affairs and Housing, Government and Consumer Services, and the Solicitor General will staff the task force, along with Ontario Provincial Police.

The task force is in response to a growing number of reports about corruption in the towing profession, as well as an increase in criminal activity.

“The party’s over for the bad actors who are engaged in violence and criminal activity in the towing industry,” said Ford. “We’re going to keep working with our police partners to bring these criminals to justice.  Setting up this task force will help us bring together experts to develop ways to protect drivers, operators and inspectors better.”

A variety of topics will be examined by the task force, including increased oversight in safety, consumer protection, more training and background checks, and improved industry standards.

Mulroney acknowledged that the vast majority of tow truck operators in Ontario run lawful and professional operations. Still, this task force will address the increasing concerns about criminal activity from the few “bad apples.”

“Like all people of Ontario, our government is concerned about the recent reported incidents of violence in the towing industry,” said Mulroney. “We are committed to ensuring a higher standard for the tow truck industry and are looking at ways to provide greater oversight of the industry to keep our roads and highways among the safest in North America.”

About 1,600 tow truck companies are registered in the MTO’s Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR) program. Tow truck operators must be registered to conduct business.

The Ontario Consumer Protection Act protects consumers needing roadside assistance and is currently under review by the government. Residents are asked to participate in a survey that covers a variety of consumer topics, including towing. The study is live until July 17.