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New tow truck requirements kick in, as province takes oversight of troubled industry

TORONTO — The Ontario government says it is cracking down on fraudulent tow truck drivers with a new certification requirement it calls a first among Canada’s provinces.

Effective July 1, tow truck drivers will need a provincial certificate to operate, as the government assumes industry oversight responsibilities from municipalities.

The province passed legislation in 2021 to put towing under its watch after groups raised concerns about weak patchwork regulation, and police investigations alleged organized crime had infiltrated parts of the industry.

Transportation Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria says the vast majority of tow truck companies operate in good faith, but “bad actors have preyed on vulnerable drivers for too long.”

Tow truck company operators have needed to be certified with the province since January, when the 2021 law came into force.

Earlier this week, Toronto police launched a tow truck task force and said it had seen a recent increase in criminal activity linked to a small segment of the industry.

Police say there have been 24 tow-truck related shootings in Toronto since the start of the year, noting most conflicts have historically been over turf wars and rivalries.

The province says among the new protections, drivers are required to provide information about their maximum fees and take a customer’s vehicle to the desired location using the most direct route.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 28, 2024.

The Canadian Press