Ministry of Transportation of Ontario

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Ministry of Transportation
Ministère des transports (French)
Ontario Ministry of Transportation Badge.png
Ministry of Transportation Logo.png
Ministry overview
Preceding Ministry
  • Ministry of Transportation and Communications
JurisdictionGovernment of Ontario
Headquarters77 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, Ontario
Ministers responsible
Deputy Minister responsible
  • Douglas Jones, Deputy Minister of Transportation
Website{{URL||optional display text}}

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is the provincial ministry of the Government of Ontario that is responsible for transport infrastructure and related law in Ontario, Canada. The ministry traces its roots back over a century to the 1890s, when the province began training Provincial Road Building Instructors. In 1916, the Department of Public Highways of Ontario (DPHO) was formed and tasked with establishing a network of provincial highways. The first was designated in 1918, and by the summer of 1925, sixteen highways were numbered. In the mid-1920s, a new Department of Northern Development (DND) was created to manage infrastructure improvements in northern Ontario; it merged with the Department of Highways of Ontario (DHO) on April 1, 1937. In 1971, the Department of Highways took on responsibility for Communications and in 1972 was reorganized as the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MTC), which then became the Ministry of Transportation in 1987.


The MTO is in charge of various aspects of transportation in Ontario, including the establishment and maintenance of the provincial highway system, the registration of vehicles and licensing of drivers, and the policing of provincial roads, enforced by the Ontario Provincial Police and the ministry's in-house enforcement program (Commercial vehicle enforcement).

The MTO is responsible for:

  • 10.4 million vehicle registrations
  • 8.5 million driving licences
  • 55 driver examination centres and 37 travel points (both operated by Plenary Serco (PS) DES, as DriveTest Centres)
  • 281 privately owned Driver and Vehicle Licence Issuing Offices across the province
  • Metrolinx (responsible for GO Transit, Union Pearson Express, and Presto card)
  • 16525 kilometres of provincial highways
  • ServiceOntario kiosks
  • Commercial vehicle enforcement program vehicles and infrastructure (varies annually).


Early roads in Ontario were cleared when needed for local use and connections two other settlements. Key roads such as Yonge Street and Kingston Road were cleared by order from officials by various parties such as settlers, British Army units (portion of Yonge c. 1795 Queen's Rangers) or private contractors (Toronto to Trent section of Kingston Road c. 1799-1800 by Asa Danforth). Road standards varied (poor in winter or after rainfall) and used by horses or horse drawn stagecoaches.

With the arrival of motor vehicles proper road development an maintenance was needed. The earliest Ontario government office responsible for roads and transportation was the position of the Provincial Instructor in Road-Making, first appointed in 1896 and attached to the Ontario Department of Agriculture. A.W. Campbell held the position of Provincial Instructor in Road-Making from 1896 to 1900 and Director of the Office of the Commissioner of Highways from 1900 until 1910. He was tasked with training Provincial Road Building Instructors. These instructors worked to establish specifications for the almost 90,000 kilometers (56,000 mi) of county- and township- maintained roads.

The name of the office was changed to the Commissioner of Highways and transferred to the Department of Public Works in 1900. By 1910, the office was generally referred to as the Highways Branch. In 1910, W.A. McLean, Provincial Engineer of Highways, succeeded A.W. Campbell as the director of the Highways Branch.

Under considerable pressure from the Ontario Good Roads Association and the ever-increasing number of drivers, which the province itself licensed at that time, the Department of Public Highways was formed in 1916 with the goal of creating a provincial highway network.[1] The department assumed all the functions of the Highways Branch. The department assumed its first highway, the Provincial Highway, on August 21, 1917.[2] On February 20, 1920, the department assumed several hundred kilometres of new highways, formally establishing the provincial highway system. Although established as a separate department, the Department of Public Highways shared ministers with the Department of Public Works prior to 1931 and seems to have been in a quasi-subordinate relationship with this department.

In 1916, the Motor Vehicles Branch was established within the Ontario Department of Public Highways. Prior to this, responsibility for the registering and licensing of motor vehicles rested with the Provincial Secretary (a responsibility it held since 1903). Although there are references to motor vehicle licensing and registration between 1916 and 1918, there is no mention in the Annual Reports of what agency actually performed this function; it is, however, likely that it was a form of, or precursor to, the Motor Vehicles Branch. In 1919, a Registrar of Motor Vehicles, as head of the Motor Vehicles Branch, is clearly identified.

In 1917, the Provincial Highway Act was passed, giving the department authority to maintain and construct leading roads throughout the province as provincial highways (designated King's highways in 1930). The Department of Public Highways was renamed the Department of Highways in 1931 and was assigned its own minister, Leopold Macaulay, though Macaulay later held both portfolios in 1934.

In 1937, the Department of Northern Development, previously responsible for highways in the northern parts of the province, was merged into the Department of Highways, thus bringing all highway work in the province under one administration.

On July 1, 1957, legislation was passed which established a separate Department of Transport, and the Motor Vehicles Branch was transferred to this new department. The new department assumed responsibilities for vehicle licensing, vehicle inspection, driver examination, driver licensing and improvement, traffic engineering, accident claims, and highway safety. In addition, it was responsible for the Ontario Highway Transport Board.

In May 1971, the Department of Transport and the Department of Highways were amalgamated to form the Department of Transportation and Communications. The new department was presided over by the Charles MacNaughton, who had been both the Minister of Highways and the Minister of Transport prior to the amalgamation. The department was renamed the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in 1972 as part of a government wide reorganization.

In September 1987, the responsibilities for communications were transferred to the Ministry of Culture and Communications, and the ministry was renamed the Ministry of Transportation.

List of Ministers

Name Term of office Tenure Political party
Minister of Public Works and Highways
Findlay G. MacDiarmid April 8, 1915 November 14, 1919 4 years, 220 days Conservative
Frank Campbell Biggs November 14, 1919 July 16, 1923 3 years, 244 days United Farmers
George Stewart Henry July 16, 1923 September 16, 1930 8 years, 15 days Conservative
Minister of Highways
George Stewart Henry September 16, 1930 December 15, 1930
December 15, 1930 July 31, 1931 Conservative
While Premier
Leopold Macaulay July 31, 1931 July 10, 1934 2 years, 344 days Concurrently Minister of Public Works (January 12, 1934 – July 10, 1934)
Thomas McQuesten July 10, 1934 October 21, 1942 9 years, 38 days Liberal
Concurrently Minister of Public Works, Minister of Northern Development (from October 12, 1937)
October 21, 1942 May 18, 1943 Liberal
May 18, 1943 August 17, 1943 Liberal
George Doucett August 17, 1943 October 19, 1948 11 years, 141 days PC
Concurrently Minister of Public Works (August 17, 1943 – October 2, 1951)
October 19, 1948 May 4, 1949 PC
May 4, 1949 January 5, 1955 PC
James N. Allan January 5, 1955 April 28, 1958 3 years, 113 days Named Minister of Transport, a new position, on June 26, 1957.
Fred Cass April 28, 1958 November 8, 1961 3 years, 194 days Separate Ministers of Transport held office during this time:
Matthew Dymond (April 28 to December 22, 1958)
John Yaremko (December 22, 1958 to November 21, 1960)
Leslie Rowntree (November 21, 1960 to October 25, 1962)
James Auld (October 25, 1962 to August 14, 1963)
Irwin Haskett (August 14, 1963 to March 1, 1971)
William Arthur Goodfellow November 8, 1961 October 25, 1962 351 days PC
Charles MacNaughton October 25, 1962 November 24, 1966 4 years, 30 days
(first instance)
George Gomme November 24, 1966 March 1, 1971 4 years, 97 days
Charles MacNaughton March 1, 1971 May 28, 1971 338 days
(second instance)
5 years, 3 days in totoal
Concurrently Minister of Transport
Minister of Transportation and Communications
Charles MacNaughton May 28, 1971 February 2, 1972
Gordon Carton February 2, 1972 February 26, 1974 2 years, 24 days
John Rhodes February 26, 1974 October 7, 1975 1 year, 223 days
James W. Snow October 7, 1975 February 8, 1985 9 years, 124 days
George McCague February 8, 1985 June 26, 1985 138 days PC
Ed Fulton June 26, 1985 September 29, 1987 4 years, 37 days Liberal
Minister of Transportation
Ed Fulton September 29, 1987 August 2, 1989
Bill Wrye August 2, 1989 October 1, 1990 1 year, 60 days
Ed Philip October 1, 1990 July 31, 1991 303 days NDP
Gilles Pouliot July 31, 1991 October 21, 1994 3 years, 82 days
Mike Farnan October 21, 1994 June 26, 1995 248 days
Al Palladini June 26, 1995 October 10, 1997 2 years, 106 days PC
Tony Clement October 10, 1997 June 17, 1999 1 year, 250 days
David Turnbull June 17, 1999 February 7, 2001 1 year, 235 days
Brad Clark February 8, 2001 April 14, 2002 1 year, 65 days
Norm Sterling April 15, 2002 February 25, 2003 316 days PC
Frank Klees February 25, 2003 October 22, 2003 239 days
Harinder Takhar October 23, 2003 May 23, 2006 2 years, 212 days Liberal
Donna Cansfield May 23, 2006 October 30, 2007 1 year, 160 days
Jim Bradley October 30, 2007 January 18, 2010 2 years, 80 days
Kathleen Wynne January 18, 2010 October 20, 2011 1 year, 275 days
Bob Chiarelli October 20, 2011 February 11, 2013 1 year, 114 days Concurrently Minister of Infrastructure
Glen Murray February 11, 2013 June 24, 2014 1 year, 133 days Liberal
Concurrently Minister of Infrastructure
Steven Del Duca June 24, 2014 January 17, 2018 3 years, 207 days
Kathryn McGarry January 17, 2018 June 29, 2018 163 days
John Yakabuski June 29, 2018 November 5, 2018 129 days PC
Jeff Yurek November 5, 2018 June 20, 2019 227 days
Caroline Mulroney June 20, 2019 present 5 years, 25 days

Road maintenance

The Parclo interchange was invented by the Ministry of Transportation.

Maintenance work is performed in two different ways:

  1. In Maintenance Outsource areas, where MTO staff monitor the road conditions and hire contractors on an as-need basis.
  2. In Area Maintenance Contract areas, where one contractor is awarded a contract area and performs all maintenance work except for rehabilitation and new construction.

A list of Area Maintenance contractors currently under contract with the MTO includes:[3]

  • Emcon Services Inc.
  • Ferrovial Services
  • Fowler Construction Company Ltd.
  • IMOS (Maintenance performed by Miller Maintenance)
  • C-Highway Maintenance Contracting Inc.
  • The 407 ETR Concession Company operates and maintains the stretch of Highway 407 from Burlington to Brougham under a lease from the Government of Ontario until the year 2098
  • The 407 East Development Group (407 EDG) maintains stretch of Highway 407 from 407 ETR to Harmony Road and Highway 412
  • Blackbird Infrastructure Group maintains stretch of Highway 407 from Harmony Road to Highway 115 and Highway 418
  • The Windsor Essex Mobility Group (WEMG) maintains the Herb Gray Parkway, the stretch of Highway 401 connecting to the future Gordie Howe International Bridge through Windsor, Ontario

Area term contracts (ATCs) are the latest maintenance and construction alternative being reviewed by the MTO. ATCs, if they are approved for tender, will cover all maintenance operations now performed by AMC contractors, but will also include annual pavement maintenance and replacement work, bridge rehabilitation, minor capital construction programs and corridor management.

Highway Carrier Safety and Enforcement

While policing on most MTO-managed roads is provided by the Ontario Provincial Police, certain law enforcement functions are provided by MTO Transportation Enforcement Officers and Ministry of Environment Emissions Enforcement Officers.

Ministry of Transportation Enforcement Officers (TEOs) enforce a variety of provincial highway safety legislation specific to operators of commercial vehicles. Driver hours of service, cargo securement, dangerous goods transportation, weights and dimensions, and vehicle maintenance and roadworthiness are the predominant focus of TEO inspection activities. Ontario's Highway Traffic Act, its regulations, the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act, and the Dangerous Goods Transportation Act are core pieces of legislation from which TEOs derive their enforcement authorities. TEOs conduct commercial vehicle inspections using a standardized procedure established by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA).

Transportation Enforcement Officers inspect commercial vehicles, their loads, and driver's qualifications and documentation. They collect evidence, issue provincial offence notices or summons to court for violations, and testify in court.

Transportation Enforcement Officer deployment ranges from highway patrol and Truck Inspection Station (TIS) duties, audits of commercial vehicle operators, inspection and monitoring of bus and motor-coach operators, and the licensing and monitoring of Motor Vehicle Inspection Stations. Blitz-style joint force operations are periodically conducted in concert with provincial and municipal police.

Although many Transportation Enforcement Officers are licensed vehicle mechanics, most are not. TEOs hail from various backgrounds including driver licensing examination, automobile repair, commercial truck driving and other law enforcement agencies.


Ministry of Transportation Headquarters in St. Catharines

MTO's headquarters are located on three campuses:

  • Garden City Tower, St. Catharines - 301 St. Paul Street
  • Downsview Complex, Toronto - 87, 125, 145, and 159 Sir William Hearst Avenue
  • Ferguson Block, Toronto - 77 Wellesley Street West

There are five regional offices:

Area offices are located in:

See also


  1. ^ "The Ministry of Transportation 1916-2016: A history". Archived from the original on 2017-10-05.
  2. ^ Shragge & Bagnato 1984, p. 73.
  3. ^ "How Ontario's highways are cleared in winter". Ministry of Transportation. Queen's Printer for Ontario. Retrieved 24 March 2020.


  • Shragge, John; Bagnato, Sharon (1984). From Footpaths to Freeways. Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Communications, Historical Committee. ISBN 0-7743-9388-2.

External links