Ministry of Transportation of Ontario

The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) is the provincial ministry of the Government of Ontario that is responsible for transport infrastructure and related law in Ontario. 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.

Ministry of Transportation
Ministère des transports  (French)
Ministry overview
Preceding Ministry
  • Ministry of Transportation and Communications
JurisdictionGovernment of Ontario
Headquarters77 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, Ontario
Ministers responsible
Deputy Minister responsible
  • Scott Thompson, Deputy Minister of Transportation


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.

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 highway
  • ServiceOntario kiosks


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 and later Commissioner of Highways from 1896 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 Ontario 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. MacDiarmidApril 8, 1915November 14, 19194 years, 220 days Conservative
Frank Campbell BiggsNovember 14, 1919July 16, 19233 years, 244 days United Farmers
George Stewart HenryJuly 16, 1923September 16, 19308 years, 15 days Conservative
Minister of Highways
George Stewart HenrySeptember 16, 1930December 15, 1930
December 15, 1930July 31, 1931 Conservative
While Premier
Leopold MacaulayJuly 31, 1931July 10, 19342 years, 344 daysConcurrently Minister of Public Works (January 12, 1934 – July 10, 1934)
Thomas McQuestenJuly 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 DoucettAugust 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. AllanJanuary 5, 1955April 28, 19583 years, 113 daysNamed Minister of Transport, a new position, on June 26, 1957.
Fred CassApril 28, 1958November 8, 19613 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 GoodfellowNovember 8, 1961October 25, 1962351 days PC
Charles MacNaughtonOctober 25, 1962November 24, 19664 years, 30 days
(first instance)
George GommeNovember 24, 1966March 1, 19714 years, 97 days
Charles MacNaughtonMarch 1, 1971May 28, 1971338 days
(second instance)
5 years, 3 days in totoal
Concurrently Minister of Transport
Minister of Transportation and Communications
Charles MacNaughtonMay 28, 1971February 2, 1972
Gordon CartonFebruary 2, 1972February 26, 19742 years, 24 days
John RhodesFebruary 26, 1974October 7, 19751 year, 223 days
James W. SnowOctober 7, 1975February 8, 19859 years, 124 days
George McCagueFebruary 8, 1985June 26, 1985138 days PC
Ed FultonJune 26, 1985September 29, 19874 years, 37 days Liberal
Minister of Transportation
Ed FultonSeptember 29, 1987August 2, 1989
Bill WryeAugust 2, 1989October 1, 19901 year, 60 days
Ed PhilipOctober 1, 1990July 31, 1991303 days NDP
Gilles PouliotJuly 31, 1991October 21, 19943 years, 82 days
Mike FarnanOctober 21, 1994June 26, 1995248 days
Al PalladiniJune 26, 1995October 10, 19972 years, 106 days PC
Tony ClementOctober 10, 1997June 17, 19991 year, 250 days
David TurnbullJune 17, 1999February 7, 20011 year, 235 days
Brad ClarkFebruary 8, 2001April 14, 20021 year, 65 days
Norm SterlingApril 15, 2002February 25, 2003316 days PC
Frank KleesFebruary 25, 2003October 22, 2003239 days
Harinder TakharOctober 23, 2003May 23, 20062 years, 212 days Liberal
Donna CansfieldMay 23, 2006October 30, 20071 year, 160 days
Jim BradleyOctober 30, 2007January 18, 20102 years, 80 days
Kathleen WynneJanuary 18, 2010October 20, 20111 year, 275 days
Bob ChiarelliOctober 20, 2011February 11, 20131 year, 114 daysConcurrently Minister of Infrastructure
Glen MurrayFebruary 11, 2013June 24, 20141 year, 133 days Liberal
Concurrently Minister of Infrastructure
Steven Del DucaJune 24, 2014January 17, 20183 years, 207 days
Kathryn McGarryJanuary 17, 2018June 29, 2018163 days
John YakabuskiJune 29, 2018November 5, 2018129 days PC
Jeff YurekNovember 5, 2018June 20, 2019227 days
Caroline MulroneyJune 20, 2019present178 days

Road maintenance

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 include:

  • TWD Roads Management
  • Transfield Services
  • IMOS (Maintenance performed by Miller Maintenance)
  • Belanger Contracting
  • Pioneer Construction
  • Steed and Evans
  • Cruickshank Construction Limited
  • 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

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.


MTO's headquarters are located on three campuses:

There are five regional offices:

Area offices are located in:

See also



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