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Tow truck drivers to withdraw service on the May long weekend to protest legislation

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As the May long weekend nears, several tow truck companies in Ontario are planning to withdraw some services in protest the lack of protection many drivers face.

Dennis Roberts has been in the towing industry for more than 25 years serving the community of Blind River.

Roberts and 50 other tow companies across the province will withdraw emergency towing starting at noon May 17 until the morning of Tuesday, May 21.

“If you were to call me and say, Dennis, my car broke down on the side of the road, can you come out and tow me? By all means, we will definitely look out for that,” Roberts said.

“However, when law enforcement calls and we have no idea who owns the vehicle -- are they insured? Are we're going to get paid? We simply cannot afford to keep absorbing the costs and cleaning up Ontario’s highways. It's just it's an impossible task.”

He said it’s a last-ditch effort to convince the province to meet with professionals in the industry to discuss what Roberts said is the inadequacies in the new Towing and Storage Safety and Enforcement Act.

Truckers say the act was written to favour the insurance and auto industry, to their detriment. One of the main issues is situations they describe as “non-consensual” towing.

That’s when tow trucks travel to collision scenes, crime scenes, impounds on private property, etc., when they are at a high risk of not getting paid for their work. They are stiffed about 20 to 30 per cent of the time, officials said.

“Everyone must recognize that the tow industry is a private, for-profit industry,” Roberts said.

“We do not receive any funding from any entity or government agency, and as such we must get paid for all services rendered.”

CTV News contacted the Ministry of Transportation for comment several times but has received no response.

Not all companies are on board with the plan.

Abrams Towing Group, said there is no chance they will be striking this weekend and that they believe most of the industry refuse to follow this tactic.

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