Tow trucks flashing their emergency lights barrelled downtown from across the Greater Toronto Area Tuesday morning to protest Bill 15, a new law the province claims will cut auto insurance rates and regulate the tow truck industry.
The trucks descended on Queen’s Park to protest the Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act, which drivers argue could hurt their operations and increase costs.
One protester said Bill 15 doesn’t address towing industry concerns, claiming the legislation is using tow truck operators as “political pawns” to reduce insurance rates.
The law, passed last month, amends the Consumer Protection Act, Highway Traffic Act and Insurance Act among others. It aims to help reduce auto insurance rates by about 15 per cent come next August and protect consumers from fraudulent activity.
The provincial government says it will also change the way towing services are provided to consumers as it is armed with regulations for retrieving personal items, how vehicles are towed and where. It would also require customers to authorize towing services.
The legislation, which allows tow trucks to be categorized as commercial motor vehicles under the Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration, would restrict drivers from working more than 13-hour days or 60 hours per week.
Drivers and towing associations argue these limitations will impair response times and resource availability.
“We don’t think that that’s really a necessary thing to do. Especially if hours of service are put on the towing industry, it would interfere with consumer service,” said Doug Nelson, executive director of the Provincial Towing Association (Ontario). The association is not a partner or organizer of the Queen’s Park protest.
Nelson said these concerns are heightened in rural Ontario, where trucks could take longer to reach stranded drivers, especially in the winter months.
Tow truck drivers also took part in a similar protest in Brampton on Monday.
- With files from Rob Ferguson