Windsor

Public consultation on tow truck regulations coming to a close

The provincial government has been gathering feedback on proposed changes to the rules that tow truck drivers must follow in Ontario, which one local operator believes will hurt some businesses.
Derek Didone, the operations manager for County Towing in Harrow, says the province has come up with regulations for the province-wide industry that are essentially aimed at fixing problems that are largely relegated to the Toronto and Ottawa markets. (CBC)

The provincial government has been gathering feedback on proposed changes to the rules that tow truck drivers must follow in Ontario, which one local operator believes will hurt some businesses.

The governing Liberals have been consulting with industry stakeholders about the regulations for tow trucks.

The proposed rules include requirements for tow truck drivers to post their fees publicly and provide an itemized invoice for their customers.

These regulations would also force tow truck drivers to follow the same rules as long-haul truck drivers, meaning they could not work longer than 13 hours in a single day or more than 60 hours in a week.

Derek Didone, the operations manager at County Towing in Harrow, Ont., said these restrictions would make it difficult for some drivers to do their job as they do today.

"For our drivers, who make commission — and most of the industry does — they take the trucks home at night, to work at night, so that they can make a living at it. They may only do one or two calls throughout that entire night shift, but they're on duty, so that counts against their hours," he told CBC News in an interview.

"During a snowstorm, everybody works around the clock, taking their breaks. It's not like we're driving hundreds and hundreds of miles without taking a break. But because we're on duty, we'll be restricted to the hours that we can service the consumer."

Didone, who is also a Provincial Towing Association of Ontario board member, said he believes a focus on driver training and setting requirements for insurance will benefit the industry.

But he worries the new regulations will mean some towing companies will close shop because they won't be able to get drivers to do the job.

"Right now, as it stands, year after year, service providers have been dropping at a rate of about 15 per cent a year," he said.

"Right now, we're standing [at] just under 900 registered tow operations in the province," he added.

"That drops any more, you thin the heard, you are going to have to hire a company from further away, which is going to increase the consumer cost for travel to them."

Didone said he believes the government has acted to address problems in the towing industry that are largely isolated to the larger cities of Toronto and Ottawa.

The consultation process on regulations for tow trucks followed the passing of a bill last year, which the government brought forward in a bid to fight insurance fraud. Only a portion of the bill related to tow trucks.

The public has until the end of October to comment on the proposed changes.

Didone said it's not clear how quickly the new regulations will come into effect, but it could be as soon as the early part of the new year.

With files from the CBC's Mike Crawley and Aadel Haleem

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