Mushkegowuk-James Bay MPP Guy Bourgouin slammed the Ford government in question period Thursday for continuing to treat northern Ontarians and northern Ontario highways as second class. Bourgouin stressed the need for the government to invest in more plows, and ensure that the same snow clearance standards it applies to the 400 series highways of the south be applied to northern Highways 11 and 17.
A transcript of the question from today’s Hansard is below:
Mr. Guy Bourgouin: Ma question est pour le premier ministre. Yesterday it snowed again in northern Ontario, and once again the province’s response was to close Highways 11 and 17. Once again, northern Ontario families were cut off, and once again, the movement of goods throughout northern Ontario came to a halt.
The government officially treats Highways 11 and 17 in northern Ontario as class 2—literally second-class. This means the province thinks it’s okay that northern Ontario drivers must wait longer for their highways to be cleared.Why does this Premier think northern Ontario families deserve second-class safety and services?
Why does this Premier think northern Ontario families deserve second-class safety and services?
Hon. Christine Elliott: Minister of Transportation.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I’m happy to rise in the House to answer this question yet again. And I will do it every single day because, I’m sure, every day in the north it will snow and the Ministry of Transportation will work closely with the OPP to make sure that we are taking steps to ensure the safety of our motorists in the north.
I’m sure, Mr. Speaker, that the member opposite would not want to subject our motorists to unsafe driving conditions. That’s what we work on and that’s what we’re focused on at the Ministry of Transportation. I’m happy to report, as I have already in this House, that we exceed our safety standards and our snowplowing standards on Highway 11 and Highway 17. They exceed the standards that we expect for our class 1 highways.
We will continue, Mr. Speaker, to find ways to exceed those standards and to continue to do better, because on this side of the House we are focused on the safety of the motorists of the north.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question.
Mr. Guy Bourgouin: The answer to snow, Madame the Minister, is more plows.
Earlier this month, this government voted down my bill to apply the same snow clearance standards to northern Highways 11 and 17 as to the 400 series of highways in the south. The government voted to keep northern Ontario as second class. The member of Nipissing said second-class status for the north was fine by him. This week, northern Ontario families are seeing this second-class status for themselves with repeated highway closures.
The answer to snow is not to close northern highways. The answer is to run more plows. Will the Premier listen to northern Ontario families and stop this second-class treatment?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members please take their seats.
Minister of Transportation again to reply.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I’m very pleased to say that our government has taken concrete steps to improve the lives of people living in northern Ontario. But instead of supporting our initiatives that help the people living in northern Ontario, the NDP decided to vote against it and to play politics.
In this year’s budget, Mr. Speaker, our government reaffirmed our commitment. The four-laning of Highway 69 and Highway 11 and Highway 17 in the north, including stretches between Kenora and the Manitoba border; the creation of a mining working group that’s going to focus on attracting investment to northern Ontario. The opposition voted against those initiatives, Mr. Speaker. But that’s not just it, Mr. Speaker. They’re voting against the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program. They’re voting against the child care tax credit. And they’re voting against the Low-income Individuals and Families Tax Credit. Mr. Speaker, they’re also voting against the aviation fuel tax credit, that will make—
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