A bill aimed at making highways 11 and 17 safer through better winter maintenance was voted down in the provincial legislature on Thursday.
Mushkegowuk-James Bay MPP Guy Bourgouin, who raised the bill, called out MPPs Vic Fedeli of Nipissing, Greg Rickford of Kenora-Rainy River and Ross Romano of Sault Ste. Marie for missing the second reading of the bill and the subsequent vote. All three MPPs are members of Doug Ford’s cabinet. Bourgouin’s bill called to have highways 11 and 17 reclassified to the same category as major highways in southern Ontario, which would require snow removal within eight hours of the end of a snowfall rather than the 16 hours currently allowed.
“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,” Bourgouin said in a statement following the vote.
The bill, known as the Making Northern Ontario Highways Safer Act, was defeated 59-38.
“It’s not the contractors; it’s not the people on the plows,” said Timiskaming-Cochrane MPP John Vanthof during the second reading. “It’s the fact that successive governments haven’t been willing to spend the money to keep northerners safe. When the Conservatives were in the opposition, they were solidly on the side of doing this, and from what I hear, northerners are once again expendable. This has to stop.”
For more recent coverage related to highway safety in Muskoka, read the article below.