Winter road maintenance report a shameful indictment of Liberal Government
Ted Arnott, MPP
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 8, 2015
Winter road maintenance report a shameful indictment of Liberal
(Queen’s Park) – The Liberal Government ought to be ashamed of its failure to protect Ontario motorists and
ensure that Ontario highways are properly plowed and maintained during the winter, says Wellington-Halton
Hills MPP Ted Arnott.
Late last month, Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk released a report which was highly critical of the
Government for contracting out winter road maintenance while failing to provide the necessary oversight to
ensure the job was done properly.
The report found that “preliminary results show an increase in the number of deaths on Ontario highways in
2013 where snow, slush, or ice was a factor.” (pg. 3)
Mr. Arnott and fellow PC MPP Jim McDonell, took the Government to task in Question Period on May 7.
“The Auditor General’s report on winter road maintenance should make this government hang its head in
shame,” Mr. Arnott told the House. “In her report, the Auditor General suggested that the problems were
‘foreseeable and could have been avoided….’ But it’s more than that. The decisions taken by this
government were careless, arguably even reckless and irresponsible.”
In 2009, the Government made significant changes to the way it awarded contracts for winter road
maintenance. The Auditor General found that while the Government was able to reduce costs, it did so at the
expense of Ontario roads not being as well maintained.
The Auditor General concluded that winter highway maintenance service levels have declined over the past 5
years. She noted that in 2009/10, under the previous system, contractors took an average of 2.1 hours to
clear the roads. However, after the changes, that number rose to an average of 4.7 hours in 2013/14.
The Auditor General concluded that this due to the fact that contractors were not getting out early enough to
start clearing the roads, as well as failing to use enough equipment and salt, sand, and anti-icing liquid.
“Winter road maintenance is not some kind of frill service,” said Mr. Arnott. “It’s an essential government
function because in the winter in Ontario, if the highways aren’t properly plowed, safety is compromised and
the lives of motorists are at risk.
“How does the government have the audacity to stand in this House and defend the indefensible?” he asked.
The Auditor General’s report on Winter Highway Maintenance can be found at:
(Attached: The Hansard record of Mr. Arnott’s question to the Minister of Transportation, May 7, 2015)
– 30 –
Ted Arnott, MPP
Ontario Hansard – 07-May2015
WINTER HIGHWAY MAINTENANCE
Mr. Jim McDonell: To the Deputy Premier: Your government sacrificed people’s safety to save a few
bucks on winter maintenance. The simple fact is that in the eastern region, you cut the number of
snowplows by almost 50%. When accidents and fatalities started to mount, you blamed it on the weather.
When your ministry engineers tried to tell you there weren’t enough plows, you ignored them. When
contractors met with us for help-
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Deputy House leader-second time.
Mr. Jim McDonell: -you punished them.
Deputy Premier, how could you refuse to act when you knew it was your maintenance policy changes that
were the cause of increased accidents, personal injuries and deaths? Why did it take the Auditor General’s
scathing report to finally get action? Is that why you’re now limiting her powers?
Hon. Deborah Matthews: To the Minister of Transportation.
Hon. Steven Del Duca: Again, I thank this member for this question. I know it’s important to people
living in his community, as it is for people living right across the province of Ontario.
I’ve said this many times, and I have no problem whatsoever repeating it: The Ministry of Transportation
began an internal review in 2013. It is important to note that the auditor was actually asked by the public
accounts committee to come in during 2014. So prior to the auditor being asked to conduct her review, the
Ministry of Transportation had taken it upon itself-as it should-to take a look at the program and to update
As a result of the internal review, Speaker, there were 105 additional pieces of equipment for both
northern Ontario, for truck climbing and passing lanes, and also for southern Ontario, for ramps and
shoulders. I remember being in the riding of Northumberland-Quinte West to make the announcement last
fall with respect to the other 50 pieces of equipment that were being used-again, for ramps and shoulders-
in southern Ontario.
I accept full responsibility. In fact, all eight of the auditor’s recommendations have been accepted by me,
as minister, and by the ministry. We continue to look forward to working on this program to make sure
that it continues to improve.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary? The member from Wellington-Halton Hills.
Mr. Ted Arnott: Back to the Deputy Premier. The Auditor General’s report on winter road maintenance
should make this government hang its head in shame. In her report, the Auditor General suggested that the
problems were “foreseeable and could have been avoided….” But it’s more than that. The decisions taken
by this government were careless, arguably even reckless and irresponsible. Winter road maintenance is
not some kind of frill service. It’s an essential government function because in the winter in Ontario, if the
highways aren’t properly plowed, safety is compromised and the lives of motorists are at risk.
How does the government have the audacity to stand in this House and defend the indefensible?
Hon. Steven Del Duca: I thank the member for that question. I think it’s important to recognize-I
understand that it doesn’t fit entirely well with the narrative that the members opposite are trying to
develop here, and that’s fine-but in that same report, the report that contained eight recommendations,
which we’ve accepted, the auditor did acknowledge that the additional resources that we’ve brought to
bear since the internal review in 2013 have had a positive impact. That same report, along with other
independent information, does demonstrate that over the last 13 years, the province of Ontario has ranked
first or second in North America for highway safety. In fact, as I said the other day, in 2012, the only
other jurisdiction in North America that had a better record for highway safety was the District of
That doesn’t mean the work is over. In fact, following her report the other day, I asked the auditor to come
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.