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MTO Service Commitment

Snow and Ice Control

Our goal

To meet the bare pavement standard after winter storms 90% of the time. The standard varies depending on winter traffic volume and road type. Some highways with low traffic remain snow packed for most of the winter. On these highways, excess snow is plowed off and sand is applied to improve friction.

Standard timeframes following the end of a storm are:

  • Freeway/Urban Highway - Bare pavement within eight hours of the end of a winter storm, e.g. Highway 401, Queen Elizabeth Way, Highway 11 four-lane sections.
  • Major Highway - Bare pavement within 16 hours of the end of a winter storm, e.g. Highway 17, Trans-Canada Highway in Ontario.
  • Intermediate Highway - Bare pavement within 24 hours of the end of a winter storm, e.g. Highway 35.
  • Minor Highway - Centre bare pavement within 24 hours of the end of a winter storm; fully bare pavement when conditions permit, e.g. Highway 516. Centre bare means a 2.5m strip in the middle of the road.
  • Local Highway - Snow packed driving surface within 24 hours of the end of a winter storm. Excess snow is plowed off and sand is applied where required to improve friction, e.g. Highway 502.

Ontario's snow and ice control standards are consistent with the best practices used across North America.

Our commitment to you

The Ministry of Transportation will continue to monitor contractors' compliance in clearing provincial highways before, during and after winter storms to ensure provincial highways are kept safe for winter travel.

Be aware, however, that in the winter:

  • A severe or long storm may delay restoring bare pavement, even with the best efforts of highway crews.
  • It may take up to eight hours for plows or sanders to begin servicing ramps and low-volume roads.
  • Extreme weather may result in the closing of highways.
  • Salt becomes ineffective for melting ice and snow at temperatures below minus 12 Celsius.

To view a map of the maintenance contract areas and phone numbers, click on the links below:

Southern Ontario Maintenance Contract Areas Map - PDF (566 KB)
Northern Ontario Maintenance Contract Areas Map - PDF (675 KB)

How you can help us help you

  • Remember, not all roads are maintained by the province.The Ministry of Transportation is responsible for provincial highways.
  • Adjust your driving to weather conditions. Weather conditions can be variable and unpredictable, placing extra demands on your vehicle and driving skills. Take the time to ensure you are well prepared for winter roads and always adjust your driving speed to existing conditions.
  • Review the winter driving tips on the ministry's web page

Leave Room for Plows:

  • Remain a safe distance back from maintenance equipment when you see their blue flashing lights.
  • To do the job right, snowplows and salt and sand trucks must travel slower than regular traffic. Sight lines and visibility near a working snowplow are significantly reduced by blowing snow. Passing can be dangerous.

Respect Highway Closures:

  • Do not attempt to drive on closed highways until they are re-opened. Always obey emergency road closing signs and barriers and follow the directions of police officers. It's for your safety. Remember, it is against the law to drive on a closed highway.

Review winter road conditions information before driving, available on the ministry' website or through the Provincial Call Centre.

How to provide feedback

We value your opinion and want to hear what you think about the quality of our service. Your compliments let us know where we are performing well. Your complaints help us to improve the quality of our services and information.

We will manage your feedback in a timely and professional manner.We will respect and protect your privacy and confidentiality. You don't have to tell us your name if you don't want to, but, if you have a complaint, it will help us keep you informed about our progress in addressing it.

Please provide us with your feedback. To send us an e-mail about road conditions on Ontario highways, click