When Winter Tires are Required in Each Canadian Province
Despite the fact that there’s only one Canadian province where it’s mandatory to install winter tires, all Canadian provinces, as well as the tire industry, recommend installing four winter tires when the temperature dips below 7 degrees Celsius. That’s because the rubber compound summer tires are made of, doesn’t grip the road as well in cold weather. Although all-season tires are better than summer tires, the tread and rubber compound simply will not perform as well on snowy or icy roads and will wear out faster as well.
You might think you’re saving money by not buying two sets of tires, but wouldn’t you rather be saving yourself from an accident? Even a fender bender can mean costly repairs and possibly an increase in your insurance if you’re deemed responsible. Having two sets of tires also means there’s less wear and tear on one set so they won’t have to be replaced as soon. No matter how you look at it, equipping your vehicle with four winter tires is the best option when driving in the winter anywhere in Canada.
Here’s a province-by-province breakdown of winter tire requirements:
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure revealed new winter tire rules for British Columbia on October 1, 2014. Signs are posted on highways in certain mountainous areas where winter tires or chains are required by law between October 1 and April 30. This is usually when approaching high mountain passes or interior highways where weather conditions are known to change quickly. Commercial vehicles do not have to be equipped with all-season or winter tires, but must carry tire chains when driving on these designated highways.
Although Alberta does not require vehicles to be equipped with winter tires during the winter months by law, Alberta Transportation does recommend being equipped with four winter or all-weather tires when driving in severe weather conditions for improved traction and control.
Saskatchewan recommends winter tires, but doesn’t enforce their usage and does not penalize drivers who don’t have them. An online survey in 2014 found that winter tire use among drivers in Saskatchewan was less than in other parts of the country. At the time the national average for motorists using winter tires was at 51 percent and only 39 percent in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Like most provinces, Manitoba does not require winter tires during the winter months, but the Winter Tire Program administered by Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) provides low-interest financing to eligible Manitoba drivers for the purchase of qualifying winter tires and associated costs, from participating retailers. The loans are offered for up to 48 months at a prime rate plus two percent for up to $2,000 per vehicle. As of January 30, 2017 nearly 71,000 winter tire loans had been approved since the program started in September 2014.
Since the start of 2016, Ontario insurance companies are legally required to give drivers who use winter tires discounts. Insurance reductions for the use of winter tires could be as much as 5% and considering the high cost of car insurance can mean considerable savings.
Since 2008 it has been the law throughout the province of Quebec for all motorists to have four winter tires installed on their vehicle from December 15 to March 15. These tires must be marked with the peaked mountain with a snowflake symbol on the sidewall which guarantees the tires have been tested and certified to meet winter performance requirements. These laws do not apply if you’re only visiting Quebec. A study released by the Quebec government in 2011 found that winter road-accident injuries had dropped by five percent since winter tire use was made mandatory and a three percent reduction in deaths and serious injuries from road accidents.
The only mandatory winter tire regulations in New Brunswick are on school buses. The government made winter tires mandatory on multi-function activity buses after several students were killed in a highway crash involving a school van.
The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal states they prefer public awareness over mandating legislation when it comes to winter tire usage. “Everyone needs winter tires if they can afford them, there’s no question about that. We’re big proponents of that, if you can get them, put them on. But we just can’t impose a cost of that level to Nova Scotians,” said Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan.
Prince Edward Island
Although provincial guidelines strongly recommend using winter tires during the winter months, there are no plans to make them mandatory. Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Robert Vessey says 70 to 75 percent of drivers in P.E.I. already use winter tires and that it would put an extra burden on those who may not be able to afford them.
In 2008, Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador pushed for the province to follow Quebec’s lead and make winter tires mandatory for everyone. However, there is no law requiring winter tires to date. Due to Newfoundland’s severe weather, winter tires are highly recommended between November 1 and May 31.
Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut
Even the places that get some of the snowiest, coldest weather in the world do not have winter tire regulations, but it goes without saying if you’re driving in the whitest part of the Great White North, use winter tires.