This op-ed originally appeared in Metroland Media on March 9, 2021.
By Teresa Di Felice
Road safety demands that the towing industry be regulated.
Right now there is a patchwork of bylaws and towing regulations across all of Ontario, creating a haphazard mix that causes a unique set of challenges for the industry, and has left the motoring public confused and unsure of who to turn to if they need help.
Of the 444 municipalities in the province, only 5 per cent have come up with their own regulatory framework. That’s why CAA believes that towing industry oversight needs to reach beyond municipal boundaries.
Last week, the Ontario government announced the results of a multi-ministry towing task force formed in June 2020, that included plans for provincial oversight, reform, and licensing of the towing industry.
The job before the task force was not an easy one. The goal: to tackle long-standing issues facing the towing industry and serious concerns that have fundamentally undermined the sense of safety that Ontarians feel on the roads each day.
CAA is pleased to see the province moving in the right direction of increased consumer protection, and we are also looking forward to supporting that work in any way we can.
For the last decade, CAA has been examining whether regulatory management is essential. We know that through the years, both the Ontario government and coroner’s reports have called for challenges within the towing industry to be addressed at the provincial level.
The announcement made a week ago by the Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones is the first step in addressing those concerns.
A 2020 study commissioned by CAA found that four out of five Ontario motorists do not feel well-protected under existing towing rules. Long wait times, high costs, and lack of full disclosure by towing companies were the most common concerns. Over 90 per cent of respondents support stronger regulations and believe that provincial licensing and certification is the most effective regulatory model for the industry.
As the largest automotive club in Ontario, CAA recognizes our role in helping the tow industry succeed. Our research includes many stakeholders and their viewpoints, like government, police, municipalities, and industry associations.
That is why CAA is advocating for provincewide licensing, training, enforcement, and collision management as minimum requirements for the tow operators in Ontario. With those standards in place, greater confidence in the industry will follow.
To learn more about CAA’s findings and recommendations, please visit www.moresafetows.ca.
Teresa Di Felice is assistant vice-president, Government Relations for CAA.