Kenora Rainy-River MPP Sarah Campbell knows first-hand how bad the local roads and highways are in the winter.

Her windshield was broken last winter by gravel and aggregates used on highways, instead of salt and sand. Campbell said she just got the run-around, when she tried to get compensation from either the province or EMCON. She added that financial costs aren’t the only concern.

“Everybody is left holding the bag personally. We’re paying hundreds of dollars for their windshields, to maintain their vehicles. We’re also putting our lives at risk when travelling on the highways. Three days after we had a mild-winter event, there was a father and a child who went off the road. They were trapped for days. People in Dryden who have to travel on a regular basis for dialysis services in Sioux Lookout being unable to go for those very necessary treatments. In that case, it spiralled out of control and led to a person passing away. These are very real costs.”

Campbell was speaking at the public town hall meeting on the privatization of public services and highway maintenance last night, hosted by the We Own It campaign. The campaign aims to bring private services back into the public sector. Campbell spoke about the difficulty that workers face, when working for a private company opposed to a public service.

“They go from having good wages and stable working environments, to being on-call every single day, all winter long. If they want to do something with their families or just clock out for one day, they could lose their job.”

The MTO has said that they are satisfied with EMCON’s performance this past winter, although the ministry added that they have imposed a few minor consequences for EMCON. EMCON took over from Transfield who ended their contract with Queen’s Park in 2015.

Campbell has previously called for increased road maintenance and safety in northwestern Ontario, saying that her office was routinely flooded with concerns from her constituents.

“It appears as though these road-clearing standards mean little, if anything, to area contractors, as my offices are still inundated with complaints from northerners who are unnecessarily put at risk due to shoddy maintenance. Northerners are tired of the same old tune each and every winter and they want to know when this government will prioritize our highways and our safety,” she said at Queen’s Park in December.

The Northern Ontario Party has also called for highway plowing to come back into the public’s hands.

For more information:
Opinions on highway maintenance encouraged
Campbell calls for road maintenance