NDP, Truckers for Safer Highways unite for improved safety ahead of winter season

In a joint effort to address the need for improved highway safety in Ontario, NDP MPPs Lise Vaugeois (Thunder Bay—Superior North) and Guy Bourgouin (Mushkegowuk—James Bay), along with Travis McDougall, co-founder of Truckers for Safer Highways, shed light on the severe issues affecting Northern communities.

“These issues are not new to the Ministry of Transportation,” said Vaugeois. “For years, we’ve been telling them about the critical need for improved highway safety, particularly in Northern Ontario. The Ford Conservatives are not prioritizing the lives of Northern Ontarians.”

Working closely with Truckers for Safer Highways, NDP MPPs have identified that inspection stations that can flag unsafe and overloaded vehicles are seldom open and need to be adequately staffed so that safety regulations can be enforced. They are calling on the government to do just that.

“Beyond roadside inspection stations, training schools are also not being monitored at all,” said Vaugeois. “Eight inspectors overseeing over 500 schools, 200 of which are truck driving schools, is unacceptable. The auditor general identified this issue in 2018, noting that the Ministry allows carriers with a poor history of collisions to test their own employees for commercial vehicle driver licenses – with a pass rate of 95%.

“New drivers are also protesting about their lack of training and the wage theft in the industry. While there are excellent freight carriers and training schools, there are also many bad actors. The issues are well-known and long-standing. The Ministry is responsible for regulating this industry. They need to step up, hire inspectors, clamp down on the fraud, and make the highways safer for everyone, commercial drivers and all other highways users.”

As part of their ongoing efforts to enhance highway safety, Bourgouin recently tabled his Private Members Bill 152, Chad’s Law. Chad, a resident of Bourgouin’s riding, narrowly escaped death due to unsafe passing by another vehicle across double yellow lines. Unlike most other provinces, in Ontario, it is not illegal to pass on a double line. Chad’s Law aims to change that.

“People are scared to drive on highways,” said Bourgouin. “The reality is Ontario’s highways are not safe, and to anyone who says that they are, I would challenge them to come up north and travel on highways 11 and 17 during the winter. Our truck drivers haven’t been equipped to thrive, and subpar standards are becoming routine. They deserve proper training, and road users should feel confident in the safety of our roads. Lack of oversight is putting lives at risk.

” We don’t have other highways and can’t bypass accidents and bad road conditions using secondary roads. We cannot continue to lose lives. Our highways must be maintained.”

Travis McDougall, Co-Founder of Truckers of Safer Highways stated, “Without clear and immediate action from the Ministry of Transportation, more lives WILL be needlessly lost on our highways. In Ontario, the mandated training time of 103.5 hours is woefully inadequate, with too little emphasis on practical experience. Our proposal is straightforward:  trainees should spend 80% of their training time behind the wheel, mastering skills for confident highway navigation.”

Ontario NDP