Ottawa city council wants stronger regulations for towing industry

By Sanam YarOttawa, Ontario — June 28, 2013 — Members of Ottawa’s City Council have come to the conclusion that the Ontario government needed a push to move forward with its ongoing examination in the towing industry. The city desires stronger regulating of the tow-truck industry in order to prevent fraud, improve road safety, and increase customer protection. Ottawa had previously looked into the feasibility and impact of licensing tow truck companies in the community. However, the Ontario Automobile Insurance Anti-Fraud Task Force’s recent recommendations to implement a province wide licensing scheme for the towing industry have shifted the city’s focus. The Task Force acknowledged that some towing operators are engaged in organized auto insurance fraud, where these operators may be part of larger rings or act alone in charging excessive fees to victims of motor vehicle collisions. Along with the road safety and consumer protection concerns raised by this malpractice, insufficient employee training and usage of improper equipment are also causes for worry. “The Ontario government is looking at recommendations from the Anti Fraud Task Force, including a province wide scheme of regulation…a delegated ministry of authority is what the associations have been pushing for, but everything is very much in the early stages,” confirmed Doug Nelson, executive director of the Provincial Towing Association (Ontario). In an industry that has no provincial wide standards, Nelson believes, “There has to be a data base established with all towing companies registered. Regulations would include having a certified capacity for each truck, formal training for tow truck drivers, registration of companies, and setting up management systems where tow trucks would need to have licenses to attend collision sites- the placing would have to be registered and approved.” The City Council has carried a motion that will involve the City of Ottawa petitioning the Government of Ontario to advance its work in regards to the towing industry. Additionally, staff will be directed to work concurrently with the province and the auto insurance industry to help facilitate this undertaking. Of course, initiating such changes will take time, but as Nelson explains, “Look at some of the municipalities regulating [the tow truck industry], there are still problems. That’s proof that a provincial body overseeing things would be much more effective.”

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