It was very disappointing to hear that NDP MPP Guy Bourgouin’s Bill 125, Making Northern Ontario Highways Safer Act was not passed yesterday in the Ontario Legislature. Bourgouin’s bill sought to improve winter highway maintenance on highways 11 and 17 in order to reduce the number of winter closures and collisions on Northern Ontario roads.
Guy Bourgouin said in a statement “The Ford Conservative government has shamelessly put a price on the lives of people that tragically die and get injured on Northern Ontario highways every winter. While the Liberals privatized and de-regulated winter highway maintenance, Doug Ford’s Conservatives are taking us from bad to worse by voting down a bill that could have improved the quality of our roads, and saved lives.
Even worse was Doug Ford’s northern ministers Greg Rickford (PC – Kenora – Rainy River, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs), Ross Romano (PC Sault Ste. Marie) and Vic Fedeli (PC Nipissing) all skipped the vote.
Guy Bourgouin ended his statement saying, “Northern Ontarians will remember their unforgiveable decision to support Doug Ford over northern drivers who will continue to risk their lives this winter.”
Prior to the reading in the legislature Guy held a press conference explaining that his bill would ensure that highways 11 and 17 are maintained with the province’s strictest requirements for snow removal. By classifying the northern highways the same as all 400 series highways and the QEW, snow must be removed within eight hours of the end of a snowfall.
Mark Andrews, former OPP North East Region Traffic and Marine Unit Commander, said Northern Ontario’s main routes need to be properly maintained to keep northern communities and the country connected.
“Highways 17 and 11 are the main link by highway for people and commerce. It is hard to believe that that simple fact was not taken into consideration when decisions where made,” said Andrews. “I have seen, first hand, the results of people’s mistakes while driving, the results are deadly. Families and communities shattered, businesses put in jeopardy because the supply chain has been cut. To change the winter maintenance classification of the Trans Canada Highway, regardless of traffic volumes is a very positive step.
“I want to thank all of those who have showed their support for this life-saving project, including Sue Dery (Grant’s Transport, New Liskeard), Mario Villeneuve (Villeneuve Construction, Hearst), Mark Andrews (former OPP, North Bay) as well as eight Northern Ontario municipalities, the Association française de municipalités de l’Ontario, and the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association,” Bourgouin said.