Will New Quebec Winter Tire Law Soon be Rolling into Ontario?


Tire in the snow

There is now a law that requires mandatory winter tires on motor vehicles in Quebec during a three (3) month period (December 15 to March 15 inclusive):

Section 440.1 of the Quebec Highway Safety Code was passed September 17, 2008 and it provides that:

“Between 15 December to 15 March, the owner of a taxi or passenger vehicle registered in Québec may not put the vehicle into operation unless it is equipped with tires specifically designed for winter driving, in compliance with the standards prescribed by government regulation. The prohibition also applies to any person renting out passenger vehicles not equipped with that type of tires. (…)”

It is important to remember that tires specifically designed for winter driving constitute a safe solution for driving in winter. They are designed to provide maximum grip on snow and ice covered surfaces.

How many winter tires must be used?

All the tires on the vehicle must be tires specifically designed for winter driving.

Are vehicles from outside of Québec affected by this measure?

No, with the exception of certain rental vehicles. The legislative provision applies to vehicles (taxis and passenger vehicles) registered in Québec, as well as to passenger vehicles that are rented in Québec (regardless of where they are registered).

Are demerit points deducted for such offences?


What is the consequence of not having installed winter tires on your motor vehicle between the period of December 15 and March 15 of the following year?

There are fines that range from $200 to $300.

How many vehicles will this mandatory measure (winter tires) affect?

This measure applies to all passenger vehicles and taxis registered in Québec, as well as all passenger vehicles rented in Québec. Depending on the number of vehicles registered, it can be estimated that approximately 4.5 million vehicles will be affected by this measure. According to our data, 90% of passenger vehicles already have winter tires.

However, it is important to note that the definition of passenger vehicle specified in the Regulation respecting road vehicle registration differs from that specified in the HSC. The latter stipulates that a passenger vehicle is a “motor vehicle designed for the transportation of not more than nine occupants at a time, where such transportation does not require a permit from the Commission des transports du Québec.” It is therefore very difficult to assess with precision the number of vehicles effected. This is all the more true given that some vehicles that are rented in Québec may be registered outside of Québec.

In which cases does the mandatory requirement to equip vehicles with tires specifically designed for winter driving not apply?

Winter tires are not mandatory for:

1. the emergency tires on taxis or passenger vehicles;
2. motorcycles used as emergency vehicles within the meaning of section 4 of the Highway
Safety Code;
3. passenger vehicles or taxis at the time of purchase from a vehicle retailer and for a period of
seven days from the date of acquisition (the driver must keep the sales contract for the
vehicle or a copy of the latter handy);
4. passenger vehicles with temporary registration plates (X plate) delivered in accordance with
the Regulation respecting road vehicle registration;
5. passenger vehicles with a temporary registration certificate (transit) delivered in accordance
with the Regulation respecting road vehicle registration for the validity period indicated on the
certificate, not exceeding a period of seven days from the date of issue of this certificate;
6. motor homes, or vehicles that have been permanently outfitted as dwellings;
7. passenger vehicles and taxis for which the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec
(SAAQ) has issued certificates (see question 7).

From December 15 to March 15, ALL tires mounted on a TAXI or PASSENGER VEHICLE must be specifically designed for winter driving.

Studded tires are not covered by the Regulation Governing the Use of Tires Specifically Designed for Winter Driving, and they are still permitted from October 15 to May 1.

Tires approved under the Regulation:

The Regulation introduced by the government followed the Transport Minister’s consultations with several groups, including the Association des marchands de pneus du Québec, representatives of the Ministry of Transport itself, CAA-Quebec, certain tire merchants associations, etc. These specialists made recommendations, most of which were adopted by the government.

The snowflake icon is used as a reference for enforcement of the Act because it supposedly denotes that the adherence of the tire bearing that icon is 110% superior to that of a benchmark all-season tire. However, that standard, established by Transport Canada in 1999, should be modified in the near future to ensure the safety of Canadians on our roads, because it is obsolete. Upgrading the standard will surely eliminate several tires on which manufacturers have affixed the symbol without their adherence having been proved. By 2009, these standards will be re-evaluated by the Standards Council of Canada with a view to rendering use of the logo consistent.

Since the goal of the Regulation is to improve road safety, it goes without saying that tires that do not meet these criteria should not be used for winter driving. When the temperature drops below 7°C, all-season tires start to lose their elasticity, which results in poorer traction, handling and braking capacity. Winter tires, on the other hand, retain their elasticity at temperatures far below 7°C. Lastly, it must not be forgotten that modern vehicles are equipped with safety features (ABS, electronic stability control, traction control, and so forth), which work properly only if the vehicle is equipped with tires providing the proper adherence.

Section 7 of the Regulation defines which tires will be acceptable as tires specifically designed for winter driving:


Tires on which one of the following inscriptions appears:

Alaska | Arctic | A/T or AT | Blizzard | Ice | LT | Nordic

Snow (but not Mud & Snow) | Stud | Ultratraction | Winter


Tires on which the mountain and snowflake icon appears.


Tires on which the mountain and snowflake icon appears.

Transport Québec : Regulation Governing the Use of Tires Specifically Designed for Winter Driving.

There is talk that the Ontario Government is considering similar legislation in Ontario. How long will this take to be implemented in Ontario?

For more information see Transport Quebec

Update: December 27, 2009 – In Calgary the fine for delaying traffic with non-winter tires is about $70, plus demerit points on the driver’s licence. There is one Calgary alderman proposing a German-style traffic law for those who refuse to don winter treads on their vehicles. This issue will be decided in 2010.

Update: December 15, 2010 – Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty rejects the idea of making Snow Tires Mandatory in Ontario.

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  1. Thanks for the marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and definitely will come back in the future. I want to encourage that you continue your great posts, have a
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  2. Hey there! I just want to offer you a big thumbs
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  3. Ive been in Quebec all my life been driving since i was 17 …now 56 ..and ive drivin all those years with all season..and had no accidents…so i dont see the big deal…forcing us to put winter tires….it should be to owners discreation…i think…

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