The Ontario government is escalating its fight to force winter road maintenance companies to pay millions in fines for failing to keep roads safe, CTV News has learned.

Last month, CTV Toronto's Paul Bliss uncovered $33 million in outstanding fines given to private contractors by the province. 

On Monday, Bliss reported that Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca has ordered his staff to escalate the legal battle to collect the fines.

Few details have been provided, but the minister said he has told his staff to seek arbitration in cases under appeal. Arbitration is the government's only option in its contracts to force the companies to pay fines, Bliss was told.

Data obtained from the Ministry of Transportation earlier this year showed there were hundreds of cases of failure to maintain Ontario roads between 2010 and 2015.

If a contractor is found to have failed to comply with part of its contract with the government, the company can face hefty fines.

The ministry provided CTV Toronto with data that showed that contractors had been fined more than $47 million over the past five years, but that only 30 per cent of that money had been collected by January 2016.

In January, MTO spokesperson Bob Nichols told CTV that some of the fines may have been reduced or waived by the government, but that many of them remained under appeal.