Toronto tow truck drivers’ records become public

By Andrew ArdizziToronto, Ontario — May 13, 2013 — The public may now access documents online detailing the backgrounds of tow truck drivers. Thorough driver records detailing indiscretions such as past sexual assault convictions, Highway Traffic Act violations or any other crime are now available on the City of Toronto’s website. The decision follows the recent discovery that there was a four year gap between the mandatory background and criminal checks tow truck and taxi cab drivers must be subjected to. The city responded with a pledge to increase the frequency of the checks to every two years, with the possibility of annual background checks. Toronto City Councillor Glenn De Baermaeker motioned to direct city licensing staff to investigate areas of concern connected to making drivers’ records public, not the least of which includes the precise information that should be made available online. Drivers must submit background and criminal checks when they first apply for their licenses, which must then be renewed annually. It’s hoped that the motion to increase the submission frequency of drivers’ checks will put the public at ease about who they entrust their lives — and vehicles — to, creating greater transparency in the towing industry. Provincial Towing Association of Ontario (PTAO) executive director Doug Nelson says there’s a lot of value in having the reports accessible online to ensure drivers are complying with basic standards and regulations. “To report all of the issues is a good thing,” he says. “I don’t see any issues or have any concerns with the information being available online, as long as the information being published is factual.” While stricter protocols for drivers in the City of Toronto are welcomed, Nelson feels it does nothing for the consumer outside Toronto’s city limits. “There needs to be province-wide regulations because there’s nothing stopping drivers from going to another municipality and getting their license there,” Nelson says. He says the PTAO submitted a regulations proposal to the Ontario government to expand the initiative across the province in an effort to make sure drivers don’t pose a risk to consumers’ safety. While the Toronto initiative is a step in the right direction, he says it is just a single step towards greater regulation and access to information. “Municipal licensing in a nutshell is too late for the towing community,” Nelson says. “It would be much more valuable if it was at the provincial level.”

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