Salt shortage and bad winter maintenance making northern Ontario roads treacherous: NDP

Wawa:  NDP Transportation critic Michael Mantha is demanding that the Liberal government explain why there’s a salt shortage and bad maintenance on northern Ontario roads this winter. He’s calling on the Minister of Transportation to immediately fix the problem, which has been a concern ever since the Liberals expanded the privatization of winter road maintenance in the province.

“It is unacceptable that the Liberals have failed once again to ensure that there’s enough salt for the roads in northern Ontario,” said Mantha.  “It shouldn’t come as a surprise to the Liberals that winter comes every year to northern Ontario. Yet across the north, roads aren’t being properly salted, sanded, and cleared by private contractors. Road conditions are deadly up here.”

Mantha explained that provincial rules state that that salting must begin within 30 minutes of a storm and the highways must be cleaned bare to the pavement within eight hours.  He noted that in 2010, Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne oversaw the renegotiation of several winter road maintenance contracts that were awarded to private contractors. 

Mantha said that municipalities, and NDP MPP constituency offices, across the northwest and the northeast have been flooded with calls from residents complaining about the road conditions. 

“People are calling and writing in saying it’s a skating rink up here. Snow removal is slow and northerners are worried that drivers could be injured or killed before the government takes action. Northerners deserve better.” said Mantha.

Mantha said that the Minister of Transportation’s announcement this morning is a slap in the face to northern Ontarians. Minister Del Duca said, “winter is here, be prepared [. . .] our top priority is to keep Ontario’s highways safe. Our winter maintenance standards are among the best in North America” (http://goo.gl/QWUh0F )

“Obviously, the Minister of Transportation hasn’t been to northern Ontario lately.  Winter has been here for a month,” said Mantha.  “If the Liberals want to keep our highways safe, then they should make sure they’re properly salted and cleared,” said Mantha.