About winter roads

Winter roads are built on frozen rivers and lakes. They connect remote First Nation communities in the province’s Far North to a permanent highway or railway system. From around mid-January until spring thaw, winter roads make it easier and more affordable for people to travel and bring in supplies.

This temporary infrastructure improvement allows essential goods and services, such as food, medical, and construction supplies, to reach northern communities more easily during the deep freeze months.

It provides economic benefits, too, creating affordable transportation options for the top employers in Northern Ontario, including the mining industry.

The major benefits of winter roads include:

  • lowering the cost of transporting consumer goods, fuel and construction materials to remote communities
  • improving access to primary health care and other services
  • job creation and training opportunities for First Nation members involved in building and maintaining winter roads
  • improving access to minerals and other resources that helps create jobs and grow Ontario’s economy in remote communities

    Winter roads contact information

    Hours of service exemption for commercial drivers

    Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8 - Hours of Service governs the maximum driving times, and minimum off-duty times, of commercial vehicle drivers. This regulation applies on winter roads.

    Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR) certificate holders that have deliveries that may be affected by conditions encountered on winter/ice roads may apply for an exemption to the Hours of Service regulations under the Highway Traffic Act (HTA).

    To apply for an exemption please email csio@ontario.ca and include:

    • carrier name
    • CVOR number
    • whether the request pertains to a specific type of vehicle or geographic location that makes the carrier unique
    • exemption duration, including the start and end date
    • alternatives that have been considered and the reasons why they are not viable
    • the impacts if the exemption is denied