QUEEN’S PARK — NDP MPP Guy Bourgouin (Mushkegowuk—James Bay) saw his bill to protect residents of Northern Ontario through the improvement in maintenance standards on main Highways 11 and 17 rejected by the Ford government Thursday.
For four years now, Bourgouin has been fighting for his bill 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. In 2019, the government voted against the bill, and in 2021, the government passed an initial stage of the bill but then let the legislation die on the order paper.
Despite multiple serious crashes and organized letter-writing campaigns by Kapuskasing residents to the Premier, the Conservatives have yet to follow through on prioritizing the safety of all Ontarians.
“It is extremely concerning that Northern MPPs Greg Rickford, Victor Fedeli, Kevin Holland and George Pirie voted against this bill and refused to fight for safer highways in our communities,” said Bourgouin. “These people call themselves leaders, but they cannot be found when it is time to make a change.
“Families across Northern Ontario are frequently forced to miss work due to highway closures caused by inadequate winter maintenance standards. In the worst cases, drivers are seriously injured or killed.
“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. Mr. Ford thinks northern drivers should settle for a 12-hour standard when the standard in southern Ontario is eight hours. That’s not good enough.”
Bourgouin’s bill was set to reclassify Highways 11 and 17 into the first class. If passed, the legislature would have increased the interval of snow removal in Northern Ontario and given them the same priority status as the southern Ontario 400 series highways.
“I will continue fighting for what is right for drivers in northern Ontario,” said Bourgouin. “We deserve the exact same highway maintenance standards as drivers in southern Ontario, and I won’t give up until we make that a reality.”