04/15/2014 10:18 EDT | Updated 06/15/2014 05:59 EDT

Tow truck industry: Ontario drafts new rules

Consumer Services Minister Tracy MacCharles introduced legislation on Tuesday intended to further regulate the tow truck and vehicle storage industry in Ontario, a move the government says will help to lower insurance costs for drivers.

If passed, the legislation would affect 1,200 tow truck operators and 3,000 tow truck drivers throughout the province. 

According to a statement released by MacCharles, the primary changes to the industry's regulation regime would require tow truck operators to:

- Have permission from a consumer or someone acting on behalf of the consumer before charging for towing and storage services.

- Publicly post prices and other information, such as the operator's name and contact information.

- Accept credit card payments from consumers.

- Provide an itemized invoice listing of the services provided and the total cost.

The new legislation also proposes to put tow trucks under the commercial vehicle operator's registration system, an industry oversight measure from which they are currently exempt.

Provincial oversight of the towing industry was a key recommendation of the Auto Insurance Anti-Fraud Task Force, which released its final report in November 2012. 

The new legislation would help to lower auto-insurance rates for Ontario drivers over the long-term, MacCharles said.