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 are currently in the process of reviewing the comments received, and a “What We Heard” document is expected to be released early this Fall outlining the consultation results.

NEW - Province of Ontario’s Towing Review

On June 29, 2020, the Province of Ontario announced that it is 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.

The City of Ottawa will be 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, and once the provincial initiatives for this industry are released.

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 are currently in the process of reviewing the comments received, and a “What We Heard” document is expected to be released early this Fall outlining the consultation results.

NEW - Province of Ontario’s Towing Review

On June 29, 2020, the Province of Ontario announced that it is 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.

The City of Ottawa will be 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, and once the provincial initiatives for this industry are released.

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.

  • What we heard - Summary of Public Consultations

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    25 Sep 2020
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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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    30 Jun 2020
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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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    14 May 2020
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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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    08 Apr 2020
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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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    08 Apr 2020
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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.

  • City of Ottawa considers new regulations for tow industry

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    08 Apr 2020
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    Emergency and Protective Services has begun a review of regulations of the towing industry to address concerns related to consumer protection and public safety. This review is expected to finish in this fall.

    Do you have concerns about towing? Do you work in the industry? Use the Subscribe tool (on the right) to stay connected with news, discussions, surveys, and more.

  • What do you think?

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    15 Sep 2020
    CLOSED: This survey is now closed.
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    Please take our short survey to share your views on towing in the City of Ottawa. This survey closes on June 20th, 2020.