Ministry of Transportation of Ontario

Last updated
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
Jurisdiction Government of Ontario
Headquarters77 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, Ontario
Ministers responsible
Deputy Minister responsible
  • Douglas Jones, Deputy Minister of Transportation
Website OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

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:


Early roads in Ontario were cleared when needed for local use and connections to 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 kilometres (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

NameTerm of officeTenurePolitical party
Minister of Public Works and Highways
Findlay G. MacDiarmid April 8, 1915November 14, 19194 years, 220 days Conservative
Frank Campbell Biggs November 14, 1919July 16, 19233 years, 244 days United Farmers
George Stewart Henry July 16, 1923September 16, 19308 years, 15 days Conservative
Minister of Highways
George Stewart Henry September 16, 1930December 15, 1930
December 15, 1930July 31, 1931 Conservative
While Premier
Leopold Macaulay July 31, 1931July 10, 19342 years, 344 daysConcurrently Minister of Public Works (January 12, 1934 – July 10, 1934)
Thomas McQuesten July 10, 1934October 21, 19429 years, 38 days Liberal
Concurrently Minister of Public Works, Minister of Northern Development (from October 12, 1937)
October 21, 1942May 18, 1943 Liberal
May 18, 1943August 17, 1943 Liberal
George Doucett August 17, 1943October 19, 194811 years, 141 days PC
Concurrently Minister of Public Works (August 17, 1943 – October 2, 1951)
October 19, 1948May 4, 1949 PC
May 4, 1949January 5, 1955 PC
James N. Allan January 5, 1955April 28, 19583 years, 113 daysNamed Minister of Transport, a new position, on June 26, 1957.
Fred Cass April 28, 1958November 8, 19613 years, 194 daysSeparate 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, 1961October 25, 1962351 days PC
Charles MacNaughton October 25, 1962November 24, 19664 years, 30 days
(first instance)
George Gomme November 24, 1966March 1, 19714 years, 97 days
Charles MacNaughton March 1, 1971May 28, 1971338 days
(second instance)
5 years, 3 days in totoal
Concurrently Minister of Transport
Minister of Transportation and Communications
Charles MacNaughton May 28, 1971February 2, 1972
Gordon Carton February 2, 1972February 26, 19742 years, 24 days
John Rhodes February 26, 1974October 7, 19751 year, 223 days
James W. Snow October 7, 1975February 8, 19859 years, 124 days
George McCague February 8, 1985June 26, 1985138 days PC
Ed Fulton June 26, 1985September 29, 19874 years, 37 days Liberal
Minister of Transportation
Ed Fulton September 29, 1987August 2, 1989
Bill Wrye August 2, 1989October 1, 19901 year, 60 days
Ed Philip October 1, 1990July 31, 1991303 days NDP
Gilles Pouliot July 31, 1991October 21, 19943 years, 82 days
Mike Farnan October 21, 1994June 26, 1995248 days
Al Palladini June 26, 1995October 10, 19972 years, 106 days PC
Tony Clement October 10, 1997June 17, 19991 year, 250 days
David Turnbull June 17, 1999February 7, 20011 year, 235 days
Brad Clark February 8, 2001April 14, 20021 year, 65 days
Norm Sterling April 15, 2002February 25, 2003316 days PC
Frank Klees February 25, 2003October 22, 2003239 days
Harinder Takhar October 23, 2003May 23, 20062 years, 212 days Liberal
Donna Cansfield May 23, 2006October 30, 20071 year, 160 days
Jim Bradley October 30, 2007January 18, 20102 years, 80 days
Kathleen Wynne January 18, 2010October 20, 20111 year, 275 days
Bob Chiarelli October 20, 2011February 11, 20131 year, 114 daysConcurrently Minister of Infrastructure
Glen Murray February 11, 2013June 24, 20141 year, 133 days Liberal
Concurrently Minister of Infrastructure
Steven Del Duca June 24, 2014January 17, 20183 years, 207 days
Kathryn McGarry January 17, 2018June 29, 2018163 days
John Yakabuski June 29, 2018November 5, 2018129 days PC
Jeff Yurek November 5, 2018June 20, 2019227 days
Caroline Mulroney June 20, 2019September 4, 20234 years, 76 days
Prabmeet Sarkaria September 4, 2023present299 days

Road maintenance

The Parclo interchange was invented by the Ministry of Transportation. Parclo-A4.svg
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]

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 St. Catharines Ministry of Transportation of Ontario.jpg
Ministry of Transportation Headquarters in St. Catharines

MTO's headquarters are located on three campuses:

There are five regional offices:

Area offices are located in:

See also

Related Research Articles

King's Highway 401, commonly referred to as Highway 401 and also known by its official name as the Macdonald–Cartier Freeway or colloquially referred to as the four-oh-one, is a controlled-access 400-series highway in the Canadian province of Ontario. It stretches 828 kilometres (514 mi) from Windsor in the west to the Ontario–Quebec border in the east. The part of Highway 401 that passes through Toronto is North America's busiest highway, and one of the widest. Together with Quebec Autoroute 20, it forms the road transportation backbone of the Quebec City–Windsor Corridor, along which over half of Canada's population resides. It is also a Core Route in the National Highway System of Canada. The route is maintained by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) and patrolled by the Ontario Provincial Police. The speed limit is 100 km/h (62 mph) throughout its length, with the only exceptions being the posted 80 km/h (50 mph) limit westbound in Windsor and in most construction zones, along with a 110 km/h (68 mph) speed limit between Windsor and Tilbury.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">400-series highways</span> Ontario freeway network

The 400-series highways are a network of controlled-access highways in the Canadian province of Ontario, forming a special subset of the provincial highway system. They are analogous to the Interstate Highway System in the United States or the Autoroute system of neighbouring Quebec, and are regulated by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO). The 400-series designations were introduced in 1952, although Ontario had been constructing divided highways for two decades prior. Initially, only Highways 400, 401 and 402 were numbered; other designations followed in the subsequent decades. The network is situated almost entirely in Southern Ontario, although Highway 400 extends into the more remote northern portion of the province.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Highway patrol</span> Police unit

A highway patrol is a police unit, detail, or law enforcement agency created primarily for the purpose of overseeing and enforcing traffic safety compliance on roads and highways within a jurisdiction. They are also referred to in many countries as traffic police, although in other countries this term is more commonly used to refer to foot officers on point duty who control traffic at junctions.

The Provincial Highway Network consists of all the roads in Ontario maintained by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO), including those designated as part of the King's Highway, secondary highways, and tertiary roads. Components of the system—comprising 16,900 kilometres (10,500 mi) of roads and 2,880 bridges —range in scale from Highway 401, the busiest highway in North America, to unpaved forestry and mining access roads. The longest highway is nearly 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) long, while the shortest is less than a kilometre. Some roads are unsigned highways, lacking signage to indicate their maintenance by the MTO; these may be remnants of highways that are still under provincial control whose designations were decommissioned, roadway segments left over from realignment projects, or proposed highway corridors.

King's Highway 33, commonly referred to as Highway 33 or Loyalist Parkway, is a provincially maintained highway in the Canadian province of Ontario. The route begins at Highway 62 in Bloomfield and travels east to the Collins Bay Road junction at Collins Bay in the city of Kingston, a distance of 60.9 kilometres (37.8 mi). The highway continues farther east into Kingston as Bath Road, ending at the former Highway 2, now Princess Street. Highway 33 is divided into two sections by the Bay of Quinte. The Glenora Ferry service crosses between the two sections just east of Picton, transporting vehicles and pedestrians for free throughout the year.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Department of motor vehicles</span> Government agency

A department of motor vehicles (DMV) is a government agency that administers motor vehicle registration and driver licensing. In countries with federal states such as in North America, these agencies are generally administered by subnational entities governments, while in unitary states such as many of those in Europe, DMVs are organized nationally by the central government.

King's Highway 416, commonly referred to as Highway 416 and as the Veterans Memorial Highway, is a 400-series highway in the Canadian province of Ontario that connects Highway 417 in Ottawa with Highway 401 between Brockville and Cornwall. The 76.4-kilometre-long (47.5 mi) freeway acts as an important trade corridor from Interstate 81 between New York and Eastern Ontario via Highway 401, as well as the fastest link between Ottawa and Toronto. Highway 416 passes through a largely rural area, except near its northern terminus where it enters the suburbs of Ottawa. The freeway also serves several communities along its length, notably Spencerville and Kemptville.

King's Highway 138, commonly referred to as Highway 138, is a provincially maintained highway in eastern Ontario, Canada. It extends from former Highway 2 in Cornwall, north to Highway 417 east of Casselman. Highway 138 provides access to the Seaway International Bridge, connecting Cornwall with Massena, New York. The highway is 38.7 km (24.0 mi) in length.

King's Highway 34, commonly referred to as Highway 34, is a provincially maintained highway in the Canadian province of Ontario. The route connects Highway 417 south of Vankleek Hill with Hawkesbury. It is 16.9 kilometres (10.5 mi) long, traveling through a mostly rural portion of the lower Ottawa Valley near the Ontario–Quebec border. The highway formerly continued 40 kilometres (25 mi) south of Highway 417 to Highway 2 in Lancaster. However, this section was decommissioned as a provincial highway and was subsequently redesignated as Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry County Road 34.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ontario Highway 537</span> Ontario provincial highway

Secondary Highway 537, commonly referred to as Highway 537, is a provincially maintained secondary highway in the Canadian province of Ontario. The highway is 16.1 kilometres (10.0 mi) in length, connecting Highway 69 near Wanup with Finni Road. It once continued 3.6 km (2.2 mi) further to intersect Highway 17 in Wahnapitae, but was truncated in 1998; this portion of the route is now designated as Greater Sudbury Municipal Road 537. Highway 537 is now the only secondary highway in the province located within a jurisdiction that also maintains its own county/regional road network.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Oklahoma Department of Public Safety</span>

The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (ODPS) is a department of the government of Oklahoma. Under the supervision of the Oklahoma Secretary of Public Safety, DPS provides for the safety of Oklahomans and the administration of justice in the state. DPS is responsible for statewide law enforcement, vehicle regulation, homeland security and such other duties as the Governor of Oklahoma may proscribe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Land Transportation Office</span> Government agency in the Philippines

The Land Transportation Office is an agency of the Philippine government under the Department of Transportation responsible for all land transportation in the Philippines. Functions of the LTO include the inspection and registration of motor vehicles, issuance of licenses and permits, enforcement of land transportation rules and regulations, and adjudication of traffic cases.

The Sultan Industrial Road, also sometimes unofficially known as Ramsey Industrial Road, is a public–private forest access road in the Canadian province of Ontario. Originally built as a resource route for E. B. Eddy's logging and lumber operations in the northwestern Sudbury District, the road is now owned and operated by Eacom Timber. It is under a public access agreement with the province, permitting its use for public travel since 1978. The Sultan Industrial Road is gravel-surfaced throughout its length. There are no services along the remote route.

COMPASS, also referred to as Freeway Traffic Management System, is a system run by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) to monitor and manage the flow of traffic on various roads in Ontario.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure (Saskatchewan)</span> Ministry in Saskatchewan, Canada

The Ministry of Highways is divided into the Operations, Policy and Programs, and Corporate Services Divisions and the Communications Branch. The ministry is the employer of over 1,476 employees diversified amongst 105 communities in Saskatchewan. The current Minister of Highways and Infrastructure is Jeremy Cockrill.

The Highway Traffic Act is a statute in Ontario, Canada, which regulates the licensing of vehicles, classification of traffic offences, administration of loads, classification of vehicles and other transport-related issues. First introduced in 1923 to deal with increasing accidents during the early years of motoring in Ontario, and replacing earlier legislation such as the Highway Travel Act, there have been amendments due to changes to driving conditions and new transportation trends. For example, in 2009, the Act was revised to ban the use of cell phones while driving.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wyoming Department of Transportation</span>

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) is a government agency charged with overseeing transportation infrastructure for the U.S. state of Wyoming. WYDOT's stated mission is "to provide a safe, high quality, and efficient transportation system."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">British Columbia Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement</span> Law enforcement agency

British Columbia Commercial Vehicle Safety & Enforcement is a provincial law enforcement agency that is responsible for the compliance and enforcement of the commercial transport sector, protection of the environment and transportation infrastructure of British Columbia, increasing road safety and protecting the motoring public.

Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure is the provincial government department responsible for managing infrastructure in Manitoba. It is in charge of "the development of transportation policy and legislation, and [of] the management of the province’s vast infrastructure network."


  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.