Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is expressing serious concern after Mississauga City Council abruptly approved an 87.5% increase to towing fees on July 6. With this decision, consumers in the city in need of a tow to a Collision Reporting Centre will now be charged $750, up from $400.
Mississauga is now an extreme outlier with respect to tow rates compared to other municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and across Ontario (e.g., Toronto: $280, Brampton: $400, London: $275, Ottawa: $300).
IBC attended the July 6 council meeting to request the decision be put on hold in the absence of any documentation supporting the increase. IBC noted that inflation is already placing pressures on consumers and that council's decision to nearly double the fee was not in the public interest.
Councillor Carolyn Parrish introduced the original motion to increase tow fees at the June 22 meeting of council, and it passed unanimously without any consultation, debate or staff report. On July 6, nine of 10 councillors, and Mayor Bonnie Crombie, ratified the motion. A lone dissenting vote came from Councillor Dipika Damerla.
This unprecedented increase comes at a time when the provincial government is taking bold action to bring more oversight to the towing industry, which has faced increasing scrutiny over the past few years for well-documented incidents of violence and fraud in the GTA. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation has recently implemented a restricted tow zone pilot project on 400-series highways in the GTA (including Mississauga) that is meant to end "first-to-scene" tow truck chasing so that collisions or vehicle breakdowns can be cleared more safely and quickly.
The province also passed the Towing and Storage Safety and Enforcement Act (TSSEA) in May 2021 to crack down on criminality and fraud in the towing and storage sectors. The TSSEA will replace existing municipal licensing frameworks for towing and storage. The new legislation is intended to be fully implemented by January 1, 2024.
IBC believes Mississauga's decision to arbitrarily increase tow fees reinforces the need for provincial oversight and a clear and transparent process to regulate tow fees that are fair to consumers. IBC reiterates its call for council to reverse this decision until the effects of this increase can be studied and justified in a more complete and open fashion.