Ontario tries to clean up towing industry

TORONTO, Ont. -- Ontario has announced the creation of a task force to improve provincial oversight of the towing industry, mired in turf wars and allegations of price gouging.

"The party is over for the bad actors who are engaged in violence and criminal activity in the towing industry."

- Premier Doug Ford

The task force will help develop a regulatory model that will increase safety and enforcement, clarify protections for consumers, improve industry standards and consider tougher penalties for violators, the province said Monday.

Photo: Today's Trucking

"The party is over for the bad actors who are engaged in violence and criminal activity in the towing industry," Premier Doug Ford told his daily Covid-19 briefing. "Setting up this task force will help us bring together experts to develop ways to better protect drivers, operators and inspectors." The task force, which has already met twice, will review a number of topics related to the industry, which could include provincial oversight of safety, consumer protection, improved industry standards, training and background checks.

"Enough is Enough" - Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney.

Photo: Ontario Legislature.

Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney voiced frustration over continuing violence and other criminal activity in the industry. "These incidents are completely unacceptable and pose a threat to the safety of operators and everyone who uses our highways" she said. "Enough is enough."

Membership of the task force will include representatives from various ministries as well as the Ontario Provincial Police. Once the task force has developed proposals for discussion and comment, it will be consulting with industry, municipalities and public safety experts, the province said.

OTA welcomes move

The Ontario Trucking Association welcomed the initiative, saying it had been working with various stakeholders since 2017 to bring change to the sector.  "With the full weight of the provincial government and police forces behind the movement to bring accountability and transparency to towing, the trucking industry can be assured we won't fall victim to the small, but growing, segment of asphalt pirates who make their living by gouging unsuspecting trucking companies who are involved in collisions or breakdowns on Ontario highways," said OTA chairman David Carruth.

With provincial oversight in place, the association said it is confident price gouging will disappear. 

There are about 1,600 tow truck companies registered in the Ministry of Transportation's Commercial Vehicle Operator's Registration (CVOR) program.

A valid CVOR certificate is required to operate a tow truck.

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