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LETTER: MPP continues to advocate for safer highways

For this reason, I have submitted a motion to the legislature that reads “In the opinion of the house, all testing and licensing of commercial vehicles should be done by public servants working for the Ministry of Transportation.”
letter-to-the-editor

To the editor,

I appreciate Gary Kader’s relentless advocacy for major improvements to safety on our highways. I have been equally relentless at Queen’s Park advocating for specific changes to make our highways safer. The biggest problem, as I see it, is that new drivers are being put on the highways with no training whatsoever. They are paying exorbitantly for training – sometimes as much as $40,000 - but they receive nothing.

For this reason, I have submitted a motion to the legislature that reads “In the opinion of the house, all testing and licensing of commercial vehicles should be done by public servants working for the Ministry of Transportation.” Responsibility for these two critical aspects of road safety was privatized by the Mike Harris Conservative government in in the 1990s. The liberals had fifteen years to fix this and did nothing. Today, there is absolutely no oversight, and the consequences are glaring us in the face.

Changing this situation lies squarely with the responsibility of the Minister of Transportation and, to date, he has had nothing to say except that “We have the safest highways in North America. This is an unacceptable answer that denies the carnage on our highways.

Another issue squarely within the power of the Minister, is to make sure that inspection stations are open and fully staffed. The new station in Shuniah is rarely open. The Minister can fix this, but he needs to offer competitive wages and benefits; otherwise, it will remain understaffed.

None of this is new information. You can read about this and more in the Auditor General’s 2018 report on Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement.

I have chosen not to comment on every deadly accident that takes place because I don’t want to exploit individual tragedies to make a political point. We know, however, that a week doesn’t go by that there aren’t multiple rollovers, along with fires and deadly crashes.

Now that the Ford Government has decided to recess for an additional six weeks, it is impossible to bring anything forward in the legislature until October 21. My motion is already on the books. I am collecting signatures for my petition for Safer Highways and will continue to hammer away on this issue.

I am not the first or only NDP MPP who has fought hard against the privatization of highway services. Look up the work of Gilles Bisson from 2014. During the current Ford government, France Gelinas, Guy Bourgouin, Jamie West and I have raised these issues again repeatedly.

Without exception, liberal and conservative provincial governments have facilitated the decline of road safety, starting in 2021 until today. Since then, members of the ONDP have fought tooth and nail to bring snow clearing, testing, and licensing back under the direct control of the MTO. The moral of the story: it matters who you vote for.

Lise Vaugeois, MPP Thunder Bay-Superior North