Quebec could expand winter tire program as experts debate relevance

Published: December 8, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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Quebec says it is reviewing its winter tire program and will reportedly bring forward its mandatory date for motorists to install winter tires on their vehicles. Additionally, the province will also increase the level of fines for drivers who don’t install the specialized rubber.

Interestingly, which other provinces (like Ontario) have winter tire programs, Quebec is the only jurisdiction that makes drivers install winter tires by law. Under current legislation, the specialist tire season runs between Dec. 15 and March 15. This rule was introduced nine years ago and also comes with a $200 to $300 fine for drivers who do not comply.

Advocacy groups in other provinces believe mandatory rules should be introduced nationwide. Installing winter tires can help save lives and increase driving performance during the cold season when snow falls and roads become icy. However, some argue an incentive-based approach like in Ontario is better as motorists are more likely to install them if they get an auto insurance discount.

“The call often comes for (provincial) legislation nationwide, but we think that may be a step too far,” said Lewis Smith, national projects manager at the Canada Safety Council. “Some places in Canada just don’t need them.”

George Iny, executive director of the Automobile Protection Association, argues winter tires should be more widespread, but not mandated.

“If we can see that it is able to move the needle, that’s the kind of incentive-based compliance we’d hope to see,” said Iny.

“I would like to believe that if people are doing something that’s incentive-based, maybe they would have less of a mindset to try to avoid it.”

“But I can see why a government would be reluctant and that’s why, again, we’d prefer something incentive-based. We would like it if the private insurance provinces (the Maritime provinces for example) would offer an incentive.”