Towing Services Regulatory Review

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A tow truck removing a car from an accident scene.

The City regularly receives concerns and complaints related to towing services, particularly about:

  • Billing
  • Business practices
  • Safety on the road
  • Safety at accident scenes
  • Alleged illegal activities

Although the City regulates towing services through limited provisions found in the Traffic and Parking By-law, there is no business licensing or regulatory regime for the towing industry. We are reviewing if regulations are needed for towing companies, tow truck drivers and storage yards in Ottawa.

Thank you to those who provided input on potential towing regulations during our consultation period. We have reviewed the comments received, and a “What We Heard” document was released in the Fall of 2020 that outlined the City`s consultation results.

Province of Ontario’s Towing Review

On June 29, 2020, the Province of Ontario announced that it was establishing a task force to improve provincial oversight of the towing industry. The Provincial task force will help develop a regulatory model with the stated goals of increasing safety and enforcement, clarifying protections for consumers and improving industry standards, and considering tougher penalties for violators.

On March 2nd, 2021, the Province of Ontario announced the launch of a Joint Forces Operation between the Ontario Provincial Police and municipal police services, as well as a Tow Zone Pilot, to improve the safety and enforcement of the towing industry in Ontario. These announcements were based on the recommendations of the Provincial Towing Task Force, which recently published its recommendations and findings, as well as an overview of its research.

The City of Ottawa is working with Provincial counterparts on the task force and monitoring the outcome of the provincial review, with a view to ensuring that recommendations for municipal towing regulations align with and complement provincial initiatives for this industry. Further information will be provided as it becomes available. City staff will be reporting findings and recommendations for municipal towing regulations to the Community and Protective Services Committee and Council once all research, consultations and policy development are complete.

Stay up-to-date on the towing review by subscribing to our Engage Ottawa project page. You can also email your questions to towingregulations@ottawa.ca.

The City regularly receives concerns and complaints related to towing services, particularly about:

  • Billing
  • Business practices
  • Safety on the road
  • Safety at accident scenes
  • Alleged illegal activities

Although the City regulates towing services through limited provisions found in the Traffic and Parking By-law, there is no business licensing or regulatory regime for the towing industry. We are reviewing if regulations are needed for towing companies, tow truck drivers and storage yards in Ottawa.

Thank you to those who provided input on potential towing regulations during our consultation period. We have reviewed the comments received, and a “What We Heard” document was released in the Fall of 2020 that outlined the City`s consultation results.

Province of Ontario’s Towing Review

On June 29, 2020, the Province of Ontario announced that it was establishing a task force to improve provincial oversight of the towing industry. The Provincial task force will help develop a regulatory model with the stated goals of increasing safety and enforcement, clarifying protections for consumers and improving industry standards, and considering tougher penalties for violators.

On March 2nd, 2021, the Province of Ontario announced the launch of a Joint Forces Operation between the Ontario Provincial Police and municipal police services, as well as a Tow Zone Pilot, to improve the safety and enforcement of the towing industry in Ontario. These announcements were based on the recommendations of the Provincial Towing Task Force, which recently published its recommendations and findings, as well as an overview of its research.

The City of Ottawa is working with Provincial counterparts on the task force and monitoring the outcome of the provincial review, with a view to ensuring that recommendations for municipal towing regulations align with and complement provincial initiatives for this industry. Further information will be provided as it becomes available. City staff will be reporting findings and recommendations for municipal towing regulations to the Community and Protective Services Committee and Council once all research, consultations and policy development are complete.

Stay up-to-date on the towing review by subscribing to our Engage Ottawa project page. You can also email your questions to towingregulations@ottawa.ca.

  • Recommendations for the regulation of towing services in Ottawa

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    Do you operate a towing services business or a storage facility for towed vehicles, or are you a tow truck driver? As part of the Towing Services Regulatory Review, the City of Ottawa wants to hear from you during the final stage of developing recommendations for towing regulations in Ottawa. Please contact TowingRegulations@ottawa.ca (external link) to receive a consultation document and take the opportunity to provide comments. The consultation closes on July 16, 2021.

  • Vehicle Storage Operator Consultation

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    Do you operate a vehicle storage facility as part of your towing services business or as a standalone business? As part of the Towing Services Regulatory Review, the City of Ottawa wants to hear from you. Please contact TowingRegulations@ottawa.ca for an opportunity to provide comments on the potential new requirements and regulations. As a reminder, the consultation closes on June 11, 2021

  • Towing and Storage Safety and Enforcement Act, 2021

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    On April 26, 2021, the Ontario government introduced the Towing and Storage Safety and Enforcement Act, 2021 as part of a broader proposed legislative package entitled Moving Ontarians More Safely Act, 2021 (the “Moms” Act).

    If passed, the proposed Towing and Storage Safety and Enforcement Act, 2021, would improve provincial oversight of the towing industry by requiring tow operators, tow truck drivers, and vehicle storage operators to be certified. The proposal will also outline vehicle and equipment requirements for tow trucks, and set new standards for customer protection and roadside behaviours, among other issues. A towing director would be appointed to oversee these new requirements, and towing inspectors would be added for enforcement and investigations, together with penalties for non-compliance.

    In addition, the broader proposed Moms Act introduces new measures to combat high-risk driving and improve road safety, including longer driver’s license suspensions and longer vehicle impoundment periods for drivers who engage in stunt driving, street racing and aggressive driving.

    City staff will continue to monitor and review legislative proposals from the Province of Ontario in order to inform any recommendations for local regulations.


  • Ontario`s towing task force - consultation and research

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    As the City of Ottawa continues its review of potential towing regulations, City staff have also been working with the Province of Ontario’s Towing Task Force.

    The findings from the Provincial Task Force’s consultations as well as their recommendations for further action have been released.


    In June 2020, Premier Ford announced the creation of the Towing Task Force to help improve provincial oversight of the towing sector. The task force met with more than 70 stakeholders through consultations, interviews and informal conversations, gained public input through a survey, and received many insights and recommendations via emailed responses.


  • What we heard - Summary of Public Consultations

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    In addition to providing a summary of the City’s consultation methods, this What We Heard document will also provide analysis of data collected during the public consultation and engagement phase of the towing regulatory review.

  • CAA sponsored survey indicates strong support for provincial towing regulation

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    According to a survey by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), nine in ten Ontario drivers support enhanced provincial regulations.

    “Wait time, costs related to tow, and lack of full disclosure are the major concerns for the residents of Ontario from tow/roadside assistance experience” according to the survey, completed by Campaign Research Inc. between April 21 and April 24, 2020.

    The CAA survey found that among drivers that have used towing services, approximately one in five reported being misled by the tow operator, receiving a bill that exceeded the estimate provided, having a vehicle towed to a different location or being charged for unauthorized work or service fees. Public safety is also a serious concern, with 16% of respondents reporting harassment or assault in their interaction with tow operators following an accident.

    When asked to consider options for regulating the industry, 95% indicated support for a provincial licensing model and 98% support mandatory training and certification for drivers, according to the CAA survey.

    The Province of Ontario is currently considering options to enhance regulation of the towing industry. Premier Doug Ford announced a provincial task force on June 29, 2020, with a mandate “to develop a regulatory model that will increase safety and enforcement, clarify protections for consumers, improve industry standards and consider tougher penalties for violators.” The City of Ottawa is participating in this process and will keep residents informed through the Engage Ottawa webpage, engage.ottawa.ca.

    The full CAA survey is available (in English language only) at: moresafetows

  • Ontario considers new towing rules

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    A provincial task force has been created to improve oversight of the towing industry. The City of Ottawa will support this initiative as we continue to consider what local regulations may be required.

  • Industry Consultation

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    Do you own or work for a towing company? Would you like to share your opinions on issues facing the towing industry? Please email towingregulations@ottawa.ca to participate in industry consultations.

  • Insurance Bureau of Canada calls for stronger provincial regulations

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    According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, insurance fraud (including inflated towing service fees) added more than $230 to each policy in Ontario.

    Have you experienced towing service fees that you think were unfair? Please share your story.

  • Province of Ontario guide for towing and vehicle storage service providers

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    The Province of Ontario offers an online guide to help you learn about the rules for towing and vehicle storage service providers. Understanding the provincial rules and how they work can help to inform your opinion about what extra rules, if any, might be needed in Ottawa.