Motor Vehicle Registration2018-07-13T15:55:42+00:00

Licensing and Registration:
Motor Vehicles & Lands / Deeds

Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have privatized some or all of motor vehicle and land registries.

While Alberta and Saskatchewan got cash up front for privatization of their land registries, they continuously lose revenue each and every year as a result.

In 2013-14, our province received $73.5 million in revenue from vehicle and driver licenses and $38.9 million from registration of deeds, companies, and securities.


Department of Finance, Budgeting Division. (2014). Estimates 2014: Shared Prosperity, Fair Society, Balanced Outlook. Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Motor Vehicle Registration

In 2013-14, our province received $73.5 million in revenue from vehicle and driver registration.


In the 1990s, Alberta witnessed the wholesale privatization of drivers’ licenses and examinations.

Despite warnings from police and unionized staff regarding the security and integrity of a privatized system, Alberta handed over these former government functions to over 200 privately owned and operated registries.

Abuse of the privatized system has been rampant since its inception. Numerous registries have been caught accepting bribes in exchange for fake licenses and false certifications. Service Alberta has had to notify several other provinces that more than 600 drivers—many with fraudulent Alberta Class 1 semi-truck licenses—may not have been trained or even tested. Private registries have also experienced “chronic, serious security breaches” with organized crime exploiting lax security measures in order to gain access to false identification.

Even more disturbing, the Edmonton Journal revealed that a known Indo-Canadian crime organization—with links to the Air India bombing—used documents and personal information stolen from a private Edmonton-based registry office to abet a multi-million dollar auto-theft fraud.


In 2003, a subsidiary of UK-based multi-national Serco was awarded a ten-year contract to handle driver licensing and testing (a service known as DriveTest in Ontario). In 2013, the company was given a further ten-year contract. It will share in $800 million in revenue over the life of the contract.

A government review in 2014 found that Serco was failing to properly road test tractor-trailer drivers. The failures were detected at Ontario’s largest commercial truck testing centre in Woodbridge, north of Toronto, where students attempt to earn their AZ licence to become tractor-trailer drivers.

The review, ordered by Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, came in response to an ongoing Toronto Star investigation that found truck drivers were earning their licences at the Woodbridge DriveTest location without being taken on a 400-series expressway, despite the exam centre’s close proximity to Highways 427 and 407.

The report found that three test routes used by Serco did not comply with ministry requirements that learners be tested on roads with a minimum speed limit of 80 km/h. The report, which says the Ministry became aware of the issue in September 2014, does not specify how long the incorrect road test routes had been used.


Department of Finance, Budgeting Division. (2014). Estimates 2014: Shared Prosperity, Fair Society, Balanced Outlook. Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Charles Rusnell, “Highway safety threatened by fake licences.” Edmonton Journal. February 24, 2008; A3. Via

Charles Rusnell, “Bogus licences traced to Alberta: privatization blamed for security breaches.” Edmonton Journal. February 23, 2006; A1. Via

Ormsby, M. and Wallace, K. (2015, January 2). “Ontario driving exam company failed to properly road test truckers, report says.” The Star.

Government of Ontario, Service Delivery Partnerships Branch, Road User Safety Division, Ministry of Transportation. (2014, December 29). Operational Review. Version 1.

Land Registries

In 2013-14, Newfoundland and Labrador received $38.9 million in revenue from registration of deeds, companies and securities.

Land registries — first in Ontario and more recently in Manitoba — have been outsourced to Toronto-based Teranet Inc. Nova Scotia is actively considering privatizing its land registry.


In 1991, Ontario outsourced operation of its land registries to Teranet. In 2010, 7 years before its initial agreement with the Ontario government expired, Teranet paid Ontario $1 billion upfront for a 50-year deal giving Teranet exclusive long-term contracts to operate land and property registries. Beginning in 2017, Teranet will pay the province annual royalties, estimated to be $50 million in 2017-18 and tied to Teranet’s revenues thereafter.


In Manitoba in 2014, Teranet negotiated a 30-year deal with the provincial government. It involved an upfront payment of $75 million together with annual royalties starting at an estimated $11 million per year, growing to an estimated $24 million by end of term (in 30 years’ time).


In January of 2015, Alberta’s then PC government announced it was moving away from plans to privatize land title registry services, due in part to lobbying efforts by lawyers, mortgage brokers, realtors, and the Real Estate Council of Alberta, who were concerned about increases in user fees and data privacy.

Nova Scotia

 The Liberal government is considering privatizing Nova Scotia’s land registries.

Lobbyists with close ties to the Liberal government have been lobbying on behalf of Teranet Inc., which operates the land registries in Ontario and Manitoba. On September 23, 2015, CBC Nova Scotia reported government had banned lobbying with respect to the potential privatization of Nova Scotia’s land, business, and motor vehicle registries. The ban was announced on September 22, 2015 in a request to vendors to submit expressions of interest and their qualifications as it reviews privatization.

Land Surveyors in Nova Scotia are concerned about increases in user fees and access fees. The surveyors claim outsourced land registries elsewhere in Canada have seen a tripling of fees and reduced access. According to Jody Isenor, president of the N.S. Land Surveyor’s Association, “Potentially the loss of a whole subset of public information from the public hands — that’s the real primary concern.”

According to the President of the Nova Scotia Realtors® Organization president, Gord Burns: “We’re concerned that privatization of a public service like the Land Registry could result in higher fees, less publically available data, and reduced access to services … If service providers need to pay increased fees to access the registry, then that will be passed on to consumers.”


Department of Finance, Budgeting Division. (2014). Estimates 2014: Shared Prosperity, Fair Society, Balanced Outlook. Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Government of Ontario, Ministry of Finance. (2010, December 17). “Teranet Transaction Reduces Debt by $1 Billion.” News release.

Teranet. (2014, February 10). “Teranet acquires The Property Registry from the Province of Manitoba.” News release.

Henton, D. (2015, January 5). “Legislative Committee gives thumbs down to privatization of provincial land titles registry.” Calgary Herald.

Withers, P. (2015, September 10). “Nova Scotia land surveyors stand against privatization of land registry.” CBC News Online.

Nova Scotia Association of Realtors®. (2015, September 23). “Realtors® concerned about increased fees, access to housing if privatization goes ahead.” News release.

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