According to Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark, Motorists travelling provincial highways in Leeds-Grenville and across the province faced more dangerous winter driving conditions over the past five years because the Wynne government put cost savings ahead of people’s lives. Clark says that’s the bottom line in Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s special report on Ministry of Transportation winter highway maintenance tabled yesterday,April 29.
The investigation was prompted by Clark’s motion at the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. Lysyk’s report traces the decline in winter highway maintenance quality to a 2009 decision by the government to award contracts to the lowest bidders.
By making cost the primary factor, the Auditor General found MTO awarded winter maintenance work to contractors they knew didn’t have the necessary equipment to meet standards. Locally, the report found a significant decrease in the amount of equipment deployed since 2009, including: plows decreased from 40 to 26; salt and sand spreaders went from 3 to 0 and combination units went from 75 to 51.
The Auditor General’s report notes that while overall traffic deaths are on the decline in Ontario, “preliminary results show an increase in the number of deaths on Ontario highways in 2013 where snow, slush or ice was a factor.”