LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO
Wednesday 23 February 2022 Mercredi 23 février 2022
Private Members’ Public Business
Making Northern Ontario Highways Safer Act, 2022 / Loi de 2022 visant à accroître la sécurité des voies publiques dans le nord de l’Ontario
Report continued from volume A.
Private Members’ Public Business
Making Northern Ontario Highways Safer Act, 2022 / Loi de 2022 visant à accroître la sécurité des voies publiques dans le nord de l’Ontario
Mr. Bourgouin moved second reading of the following bill:
Bill 59, An Act to amend the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act to make northern Ontario highways safer / Projet de loi 59, Loi modifiant la Loi sur l’aménagement des voies publiques et des transports en commun pour accroître la sécurité des voies publiques dans le nord de l’Ontario.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Pursuant to standing order 101, the member has 12 minutes for their presentation. I return to the member from Mushkegowuk–James Bay.
M. Guy Bourgouin: Merci, Monsieur le Président. Je voudrais aussi prendre l’occasion de remercier mes assistants pour le travail exemplaire qu’ils ont fait en travaillant sur ce projet de loi.
C’est avec beaucoup d’émotion et avec beaucoup de fierté que je prends la parole aujourd’hui à l’Assemblée législative. Before I begin, I want to thank all of those who have shown their support for this life-saving project: Sue Dery, from Grant’s Transport in New Liskeard; Mario Villeneuve, de Villeneuve Construction à Hearst; Mark Andrews, former OPP northeast region traffic and marine unit commander; les nombreux conseils municipaux qui démontrent aussi leur appui; and also NOMA, the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association. Et un grand merci à tous les Ontariens et Ontariennes qui ont signé la pétition pour demander que les routes de nos régions soient plus sécuritaires.
Let me begin by saying that Bill 59, the Making Northern Ontario Highways Safer Act, is nothing but common sense. Les autoroutes 11 et 17 forment un lien vital et une plateforme économique pour de nombreuses collectivités qui fournissent d’importantes ressources naturelles à l’Ontario et au Canada. These highways cross regions to connect eastern Ontario and southern Ontario to Manitoba and the west.
Speaker, according to the Ministry of Transportation’s Northern Ontario Commercial Vehicle Travel Profile, 54,000 truck trips per week travel along the northern Ontario highway network. These trucks carry more than half a million tonnes of commodities, with an estimated total value of $1.24 billion. De plus, vu que les villes et les villages forment un corridor tout le long de ces deux routes, les vies des gens se passent sur la 11 et la 17 : les autobus qui amènent les enfants à l’école, les gens qui voyagent pour aller à un rendez-vous médical ou les gens qui veulent simplement se rendre au travail.
Mais les risques de collisions et d’accidents mortels sur ces deux autoroutes du Nord sont particulièrement élevés. Les données du Rapport annuel sur la sécurité routière en Ontario démontrent l’ampleur du contraste entre les régions du Nord et du Sud en regard du nombre de mortalités. En moyenne, les accidents mortels sont nettement plus nombreux dans les régions desservies par les routes du corridor transcanadien.
For example, drivers with motor vehicles registered in the Cochrane region are twice as likely to be killed in a highway accident as those whose vehicles are registered in the Halton region. When it comes to motor vehicles registered in the Timiskaming region, the chances of a fatal collision are almost four times higher than in the Toronto region. And if we compare the regions of Timiskaming, Cochrane and Kenora to those of Durham, Halton and Toronto, drivers are three times more likely to engage in a fatal accident in the north. No one, absolutely no one, could be pleased to hear that our families, our children, our loved ones are more likely to be killed in a car accident because our roads are not kept passable.
Il faut avouer que les routes du nord de la province ont toujours été plus dangereuses que celles du sud. But since the Liberal government privatized the winter maintenance and enforced performance-based area contracts in 2009, things have gone from bad to worse. Again, the Auditor General’s report on winter road maintenance is crystal clear on this issue. It says, “Our audit found that because of significant changes to the winter highway maintenance program since 2009, winter roads have not been maintained as effectively as they were prior to this date.”
This cannot be more evident: The privatization and deregulation of winter highway maintenance has had a negative impact on the conditions of our roads. It has cost money, and above all, it has cost many lives.
Ce gouvernement conservateur a traîné les pieds. Ils n’ont rien fait pour assurer que nos enfants rentrent à la maison en toute sécurité. Ils ont eu l’opportunité, mais ils ont voté contre le dernier coup.
Speaker, this bill can help save lives. It can lower the risk of fatal collisions in northern Ontario.
Présentement, les normes de dégagement de la chaussée du ministère des Transports s’appuient sur les moyennes de débit de circulation et les catégories de voies publiques.
Briefly, the current standards imply that the more traffic, the faster the highway surface is restored to bare pavement conditions. This means that standards are purely grounded on traffic volume, overlooking critical vehicular differences.
D’autres juridictions, comme les États du Maine et du Michigan aux États-Unis, établissent leurs services selon des facteurs divers, comme la circulation moyenne quotidienne, mais aussi la circulation de véhicules commerciaux. Vu que 54 000 véhicules commerciaux circulent dans le réseau routier du Nord ontarien par semaine, il fait du sens d’y penser.
In light of this, Making Northern Ontario Highways Safer Act, 2021, seeks to reduce the number of winter closures and collisions by:
—amending the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act, 1990;
—setting out a classification system for Ontario highways consisting of five classes of highways;
—en considérant les routes 11 et 17 comme égales aux autoroutes 400 et à l’autoroute Queen Elizabeth; et
—en exigeant que l’intégralité de la chaussée soit dégagée de toute neige dans les huit heures suivant la fin d’une chute de neige.
Also important to note: It does not apply, however, to O. Reg. 340/94, drivers’ licences, under the Highway Traffic Act, the regulation that specifies highways and drivers’ licences. In other words, a change in winter road maintenance has no impact on the drivers’ licences regulation.
Speaker, regardless of how we look at this issue, it just makes sense. From Kenora to North Bay, winter closures kill people and are an economic harm to the region. We have so many closures, we can’t keep count. Why do we have so many closures? Highways 11 and 17 closures are so frequent, it is practically an everyday event.
I’ve received countless messages, like the one from a Nipissing constituent. She says, I “wanted to thank you for the highway bill ... I am writing from a hotel room in Sudbury” because “I couldn’t safely drive home to North Bay tonight.... The cost will take most of the money I made driving here for a contract.... Also it really scared me” because “I have kids.”
Speaker, this story is but one of thousands and thousands that go unnoticed of people who feel unsafe, who lose money, who lose precious time with their loved ones because of a poorly maintained northern Ontario highway.
Pensons aux familles, aux gens affectés par l’impact des conditions routières, particulièrement dans mon comté. Plus de 16 000 personnes ont répondu à un appel à l’aide pour la campagne Letter for Chad—un jeune homme dans mon comté dont la vie a été changée à cause des conditions routières.
Ce gouvernement se dit être ouvert aux affaires. Si c’est vraiment le cas, il devrait donc appuyer ce projet de loi et ainsi éviter les fermetures des routes, les accidents et les morts sur les routes 11 et 17.
Monsieur le Président, je veux juste vous donner quelques chiffres. Il me reste deux minutes—juste quelques chiffres. It’s based on Ontario-investigated MVCs, motor vehicle collisions, to 2021, year to date. Highway 11: 17 fatal injuries; non-fatal injuries, 155; property damage only, 1,271. Highway 17: 12 fatal injuries; non-fatal injuries, 174; property damage only, 1,034. Families have lost loved ones—17 on Highway 11, 12 on Highway 17. Non-fatal injuries: 155 on Highway 11 and 174—these are life-changing; they didn’t die of it, but they have serious consequences from it. Think about this for a second. These are high numbers.
This private member’s bill is not partisan. It saves lives. Northern Ontario needs these highways to be class 1. Last time, you had the chance to do the right thing. Do the right thing now.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): I recognize the member from Scarborough–Rouge Park.
Mr. Vijay Thanigasalam: It’s my pleasure to rise in my role as parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Transportation this evening and speak in reply to Bill 59, Making Northern Ontario Highways Safer Act, brought forward by the member for Mushkegowuk–James Bay. I want to thank the member opposite for introducing this bill and bringing this important item forward for debate this evening.
Speaker, our government takes winter maintenance very seriously. We share the same goals with all members of this House when it comes to improving our winter maintenance performance. We understand that the winter months pose significant challenges for drivers in northern Ontario, and we agree that ensuring that getting drivers in the north safely from point A to point B is a priority.
Thanks to the Minister of Transportation’s leadership, our government is taking real, measurable steps to improve safety and get winter maintenance operations back on track after years of mismanagement by the previous Liberal government.
It was the previous Liberal government of Steven Del Duca that outsourced winter highway maintenance in the north, and like so many things the Liberals touched, they left a mess. We took office and we discovered the contractors did not have enough materials, like road salt, and did not have the right equipment for northern roads. It is a textbook example of their mismanagement over 15 years. Our government has been working through this contract to clear our highways so they are safe to travel on. For example, in some instances, our government secured financing contractors so they could purchase the appropriate equipment.
Speaker, as I’ve said, our government understands that the winter months pose significant challenges to drivers in the north. When a storm hits, the maintenance contractors work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, during and following the storm until the bare pavement is restored on these highways. For example, other jurisdictions in Canada such as Manitoba and Saskatchewan do not mention a bare-pavement standard in their winter maintenance contracts. Our service commitment is to meet the bare-pavement standard 90% of the time, averaged across the province’s highway network.
In the last winter season, Ontario achieved this standard 98% of the time across our highway network, illustrating that the steps we are taking are working. Our review of winter maintenance operations confirmed that we are meeting or exceeding the clearing standards for Highways 11 and 17 96% of the time. However, we recognize there are exceptional circumstances that arise during winter storms, which is why the Minister of Transportation directed the ministry to take a number of strong, concrete and proactive steps to improve operations of our winter maintenance contracts during a storm. These steps included adding more winter maintenance equipment to our fleet. There are over 1,100 pieces of winter maintenance equipment ready to be deployed to keep our highways clear during harsh winter storms. We have also directed contractors to apply anti-icing liquids in advance of winter storms and get the right piece of equipment in place to fight a storm.
We have also installed 14 road weather information system stations, including eight along Highways 11 and 17. Additionally, over 20 new inspectors and coordinators have been hired, and we have provided them with the tools to ensure that winter maintenance contractors are meeting our high bare-pavement standards.
Mr. Speaker, also, by introducing the Ontario 511 app to the public, drivers can now check roads, weather conditions and highway cameras, and also consult the “Track my plow” feature on the app before they head out on the road, which is something that I hope all drivers will incorporate into their future trip planning.
Furthermore, in December of last year, I joined the Minister of Transportation in North Bay. We announced that our government is taking steps to improve road safety in the north by implementing a “2+1” highway pilot, the first of its kind in North America. For those who are not aware, the “2+1” highway is a three-lane highway with a centre passing lane that changes directions approximately every two to five kilometres, separated by a barrier. We have heard from many regional stakeholders, local stakeholders, to move this project forward, and we are doing so by identifying potential pilot locations for further consideration. This will make a meaningful difference for drivers as our government is responding to local concerns and taking the necessary steps to improve Ontario’s transportation network, helping people and helping goods to get where they need to go quickly and, more importantly, safely.
As I mentioned in my introduction, our government is meeting or exceeding the bare-pavement standard on all sections of Highways 11 and 17, but we know there is always more to do for safety. Last year, our government launched a pilot that will identify those areas where contractors have difficulty meeting the new higher standard and identify actions on how the new higher standard could be achieved on Highways 11 and 17. The pilot also involved an ongoing review of winter maintenance performance and a review of the time taken to achieve bare pavement each month. Through this, the ministry and our contractors will identify sections along Highways 11 and 17 where we can implement higher standards for clearance and sections where we need to enhance the winter service delivery approach.
Mr. Speaker, given that we experienced a milder winter last year, our government has extended the pilot project to this winter. By doing so, we’ll be able to gather additional data and perform an analysis that more accurately represents the typical winter seasons experienced in the north. Ultimately, the information we’ll get from the pilot project will allow the ministry to make more informed decisions about future improvements.
This report will be received in the coming months, and its findings will be shared publicly. After the publication of this report, our government will convene a task force to review the findings and recommend further action on how to improve winter maintenance in the north. Our government believes strongly in listening to communities. We must bring local leaders into this important conversation.
Mr. Speaker, as I outlined in my remarks, our government is taking steps to get winter maintenance operations back on track after years of mismanagement by the last Liberal government. We support the bill’s principle of getting drivers from point A to point B safely, which is why we’ll vote for this at the second reading tonight for further study at committee. By moving this bill to committee, we can undertake further review to ensure that we are moving forward with the best proposal to improve highway maintenance in the north.
In closing, I want to reiterate that in this government and at the Ministry of Transportation our priority is to ensure that we have a safe and efficient highway network in all parts of the province, including the north. Improving winter maintenance will always be an ongoing priority for our government, and thanks to the Minister of Transportation’s leadership, we are looking at more ways to carefully improve winter maintenance operation in the north. Once again, thank you to the member opposite for bringing this important matter forward tonight. I look forward to hearing the rest of the debate.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): I recognize the member from Sudbury.
Mr. Jamie West: I also want to thank the member from Mushkegowuk–James Bay for this bill, Making Northern Ontario Highways Safer Act. He had a brief summary, Speaker, as you know, talking about how the Liberals made a mess by privatizing and deregulating the winter maintenance of these roads. Basically, this is non-partisan. This is about bringing to bear bare-road standards to protect lives. Some of the stats he talked about on Highway 11 and Highway 17—on Highway 11: 17 deaths, 155 non-fatal accidents. On Highway 17: 12 fatal accidents, 174 non-fatal accidents. That doesn’t include the thousands of property damage accidents. This is affecting people’s lives. This is affecting people getting from one place to another.
The last time this was tabled—and thank you for bringing it back, colleague—the Conservatives voted it down overwhelmingly. I got a phone call from Erika Lougheed. Erika wanted to know why her MPP, the member for Nipissing, voted against this. She said that when he was in opposition, he fought tooth and nail to get this done, and then voted it down. Now, Erika talks to a lot of people. She talks to people in Powassan, Mattawa, North Bay, Nipissing First Nation, Callander, Bonfield and East Ferris, and they’ve been telling her they want this supported. They want this to go through. I don’t know why a northern Conservative MPP would vote this down, but I’m encouraging all Conservative members to support this motion. It’s very important. And not just to support it and bring it to committee where it sits on a shelf, but to get it through before the elections start, because people will pay attention. If you pretend to support this and don’t push it through, they will not forgive you.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): I recognize the member from Thunder Bay–Atikokan.
Ms. Judith Monteith-Farrell: I thank my colleague from Mushkegowuk–James Bay for this motion. Every day, we receive calls at the office from people just crying and upset about the close calls—not just the fatalities, but people who almost lose their lives, who now are afraid to drive on the roads around Thunder Bay and Atikokan. We see that they are telling us, “Why has this road maintenance gone so bad?” We used to have public snowplow drivers who took pride in doing a good job, who took pride in maintaining those highways. This is a small step to providing safety and security for people who have to drive those highways, because in northern Ontario, in my neck of the woods, there are no other options. We need to have our highways at the top rate.
The other thing is that our highways are two lanes. We have me driving this way and a transport truck coming this way—and no shoulders. So, we need our highways to be dry so that we can stay in control. And as someone who has driven these highways in my former careers many times, I know that the standards have gone down. I know that we need this motion and we need this standard to be changed. It’s part of the solution to making our roads safe and eliminating those deaths of our constituents.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): I recognize the member from Nickel Belt.
Mme France Gélinas: I want to thank my colleague from Mushkegowuk–James Bay for bringing this piece of legislation forward. Making northern Ontario highways safer has to be a priority. Too many people, too many families have been torn apart because it snows, the highway becomes an ice rink, and accidents happen. People die, people get injured, and families get torn apart.
How do we do this? It’s quite simple: You improve the winter road maintenance. The bill from my colleague makes it simple; just make it a priority one. Why is it that highways in the north—the Trans-Canada Highway, the most important highway, once it goes through northern Ontario, it’s not a priority anymore. It has to be. This is our lifeline. It has to be treated as a number one priority and be clear of snow within eight hours, so that we stop going to funerals and we stop going to visit people in the hospital every time there is a snowstorm. Like every MPP on this side of the House, every snowstorm I get tons of pictures: “Look at what Highway 144 looks like,” “Look at what Highway 17 looks like.” And those are 24 hours after it stops snowing.
We have to do better than this. We have to pass this bill so that northerners feel protected.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): I recognize the member from Kiiwetinoong.
Mr. Sol Mamakwa: Meegwetch to my colleague from Mushkegowuk–James Bay. Bill 59, the Making Northern Ontario Highways Safer Act, is a very important segment of the work that we do here. We should not be talking about financial costs versus the cost of people’s lives. I don’t know why we are even debating it. We know it’s very real that the northern Ontario Highways 17 and 11 are the most deadly highways provincially. Again, we also know that drivers in the region are two times as likely to die in a car crash as anywhere else in the province. So I ask colleagues—the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement, and if we make this improvement on our highways, it will save lives. When we do it right, we save more lives, communities and the economy itself, this lifeline. We can make that change. Meegwetch.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): I recognize the member from Timmins.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: All of us remember that years ago we used to be able to get on Highway 11 or 17 and not even think about having to worry about weather on that highway, even in a snowstorm. I used to drive to Kapuskasing, Temiskaming, Toronto, all kinds of different places, like many northerners, and we had plows on the road that were plowing the snow, that were putting salt when it was needed, and people just took for granted that their highways were in great shape.
It started first with the Harris government. You might remember, Mr. Speaker; you were part of that government. They decided to partially privatize the system, which opened the door, when the Liberals came in, to completely privatize the system. And then we ended up with the system we’ve got now, where members of our northern Ontario region and people who drive through the north are finding that you’re not able to drive safely on those highways. I left my home in Timmins on Sunday. It used to be Highway 576. It was snow-covered. That was about 12 hours after a snowstorm. I got on Highway 101: It was snow-covered, not dusted. I got on Highway 144: It was a skating rink until you got to just about Gogama. Then it was okay after that, because Sudbury had nice weather on Sunday. It is really a problem.
So we’re saying to the government, you’ve got to lift your game. You’ve got to make sure that this is a priority and pass this gentleman’s bill.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): I recognize the member from Algoma–Manitoulin.
Mr. Michael Mantha: I want to, again, myself thank the member from Mushkegowuk–James Bay. I also want to thank my colleagues who have taken the time to find this issue so important: the members from Sudbury, Thunder Bay–Atikokan, Nickel Belt, Timmins, Kiiwetinoong, Timiskaming–Cochrane. I even want to thank the parliamentary assistant for actually coming in and being part of this debate, because it is an important issue.
I want to bring a different perspective, Speaker. I want to read words from one of the snowplow operators. I want to make it perfectly clear: We are not laying blame on the men and women who are behind the wheel on our snowplows. They are brave individuals who put their lives at risk to make sure that our roads are opened up every time.
But here’s a different perspective, from a snowplow operator who will remain confidential:
“I wanted to highlight part of the issue is that the company that has the current winter maintenance contract is not putting any money into the operation. As a result, there are no drivers, and the trucks are even in poor repair and constantly breaking down. The equipment is not fit for the road. Proper highway maintenance is near impossible to achieve. Only one of our four trucks that are used to plow is operational.
“I thought that I would share this insight with you since you have been advocating for better highway maintenance. Part of the change is expectations for highway maintenance may need to include a clause that requires the contractor to invest in drivers and equipment.
“While I am extremely frustrated at the situation, I expect you to keep my name confidential, as I still need my job. I hope this helps you fight for better services in Algoma–Manitoulin.”
Speaker, this is from a snowplow operator. We know what the problems are on our roads. You can stand in the middle of the highway where there’s one service provider to the north. You can see clear, bare highways. You turn around on that same highway and you’re looking at a white sheet in your back mirror, and you don’t even know why there’s a difference, what is going on between—the same salt is being used. The same plows are being used. The service is not being upheld. We need to change this. We need to pass the standards and pass this member’s private member’s bill.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): I recognize the member from Timiskaming–Cochrane.
Mr. John Vanthof: I’d like to thank the member from Mushkegowuk–James Bay for bringing this bill forward, a bill, quite frankly, whose goal is to get better winter maintenance on Highway 11 and Highway 17. Everyone who goes and drives on those highways is afraid for their lives. And the statistics bear it out: If your vehicle is registered in Cochrane, you’re twice as likely to die in a fatal accident than if your vehicle is registered in Halton. If your vehicle is registered in Timiskaming, the chances of a fatal accident are four times higher than in the Toronto region. There are 54,000 trucks a week on Highways 11 and 17. And you know what? Anybody who has driven on those highways, you have met some of those trucks. There’s not one of us who has driven those highways who hasn’t had to pull over—and luckily, we’re still alive—and peel our hands off—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: The steering wheel.
Mr. John Vanthof: —the steering wheel and think, “By the grace of God, I’m still here.”
Now, is better winter maintenance going to fix all the problems? No. But is it going to make a huge difference? Absolutely. Is “2+1” going to make a difference? Absolutely—three years from now, as a pilot project on one section. Is fixing winter maintenance going to make a difference across 11 and 17 now? Absolutely, right now. And it’s not the person on the plow. They are doing everything they can with what they’ve got. But it’s the way the contracts are administered. The government knows that, has the power to change it, and we need to change it now to save people’s lives.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): The member from Mushkegowuk–James Bay has two minutes to reply.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Sorry, my apologies. I didn’t see you rise. I recognize the member from Orléans.
Mr. Stephen Blais: It’s an honour and a pleasure to be speaking tonight about Bill 59, Making Northern Ontario Highways Safer Act. I’d like to thank the member for Mushkegowuk–James Bay for bringing it forward.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I think we can all agree that despite any political or ideological differences we might share in this chamber, road safety, in particular highway safety, is a non-partisan issue and must be a top priority. As a top priority, any government would understand that the winter maintenance standards in the north need to be improved to provide the residents of northern Ontario with better-quality highway access, in particular in the winter, which anyone who lives in Canada knows can be quite long.
We need to ensure that every Ontarian is driving on safe roads, roads that are free of obstacles, and in the winter that means snow and ice, Mr. Speaker. This bill, if enacted, would ensure that those roads, those two particular highways in northern Ontario, get better winter maintenance, because the classifications and the standards would be higher.
The parliamentary assistant talked about how great they are at delivering on the existing standards. Well, great. Those are the existing standards. The point is the standards need to be higher. They can achieve the standards at 98% or whatever the stat was all they want, but the current standards are clearly not good enough, and that’s demonstrated by the fact that the highways are regularly closed, people are regularly getting into accidents and, tragically, too many people are regularly being injured and killed as a result of those accidents. It’s obvious to everyone that the standards need to go up, so I want to thank the member for bringing this forward.
Now, I’ve only had the occasion to drive that far north on Highway 17 once and, fortunately for me, it was in the middle of the summer. But as a city slicker, just that was an experience in and of itself, I have to tell you. My wife grew up in Wawa back when it was Michipicoten township. We travelled up north to see my in-laws that summer. I didn’t believe the stories my father-in-law would regale me with about the quality of the roads and highways up there and what it was like to be snowed in. You can’t even leave Wawa sometimes as a result of all the snow, Mr. Speaker. But that trip, even though it was in, I think, July or August, was an experience. So I can only imagine what it’s like driving right after a storm.
As a couple of the members said earlier, we can’t thank enough the men and women who drive the winter maintenance equipment, the snowplows, the spreaders etc., because they do put their lives at risk, especially in the north. Christmas isn’t a holiday for them. If it snows, they’re out. They’re away from their families doing their job. We need to recognize that their job is tough. It’s tough enough as it is, and it doesn’t help when they receive all the criticism for poor-quality roads. Those roads are in poor quality because of the way the government is managing the standards.
I agree that we need to have the highest-quality standards on these important vital arteries to the north. They should be the same standards that we have in Ottawa, the same standards that exist in Toronto, on all the 400-series highways. I want to give credit to the member for bringing this bill forward and continuing to do so.
I also want to thank my friend and colleague from Thunder Bay–Superior North, who I had a chance to chat with a little bit today. He was telling me how this has been one of the worst winters he can remember, at least in a very long time, up in northern Ontario; how the snow levels are at—they’re the types of stories you tell your grandkids 20 and 30 years down the road. That’s how bad the snow is, according to him. I haven’t been up there.
Mr. Stephen Blais: Yes, see? The snow is up to there this year. Imagine the snow being up to there and then trying to get around, trying to get between two towns, trying to go see relatives, trying to commute all the way down to Toronto to do your job. Hopefully not too many people do that, Mr. Speaker, but at least for the member up here, we’ve got to make commuting a little bit easier. It’s vital that the standards on these roads be improved. It will save lives. It should not be a question of money, especially when so many lives are at stake.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Now I return to the member from Mushkegowuk–James Bay for his two-minute reply.
M. Guy Bourgouin: Je veux remercier tous les députés des deux côtés de la Chambre pour leurs discours sur le projet de loi.
Speaker, as I said before, this bill is about common sense. If there’s one thing that I’m absolutely sure all members agree on, it’s that we all want our families, our children, our loved ones to be safe. My children drive on 11. I drive on 11 all the time.
Ce n’est pas un problème d’entretien ou un problème avec les contracteurs. Vous avez entendu les députés le mentionner. Ce n’est pas une question—au contraire. J’ai vu des conducteurs de charrue se tasser dans le milieu pour empêcher un camionneur qui voulait les dépasser, qui ont sauvé la vie d’une personne qui s’en venait, à maintes reprises. C’est un problème de politique publique et de législation, et nous pouvons aujourd’hui faire un changement.
This is not about party discipline, Speaker; this is about doing what’s right. It’s our responsibility as representatives to aim for what is best for Ontarians. It’s about saving lives. Encore une fois, le but de ce projet de loi est de sauver des vies, pas de faire de la partisanerie. As Mr. Mark Andrews, a former OPP commander said in an interview, “How much is a life worth?” Think about that when you vote your conscience on this.
I thus hope that all of the representatives of this House, especially the members from the government side, support this bill this time around.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): The time provided for private members’ public business has expired.
Mr. Bourgouin has moved second reading of Bill 59, An Act to amend the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act to make northern Ontario highways safer. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.
All those in favour of the motion will please say “aye.”
All those opposed to the motion will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
A recorded division being required, the vote on this item of private members’ public business will be deferred until the next proceeding of deferred votes.
Second reading vote deferred.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): All matters relating to private members’ public business having been completed, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 9 a.m.
The House adjourned at 1842.