Sudbury

These parties are promising to make winter highway maintenance public but the contracts aren't up for years

Several parties in Ontario are promising to put winter highway maintenance back into the public sector but CBC news has learned many of those contracts won’t expire until after the next provincial election.

Several contracts for northeastern Ontario companies don’t expire until after the next provincial election

The Ministry of Transportation says many existing winter road maintenance contracts in northeastern Ontario don't expire until 2022 or later.

Several parties in Ontario are promising to put winter highway maintenance back into the public sector but CBC news has learned many of those contracts won't expire until after the next provincial election.

In its platform, the New Democrats say if elected on Thursday, the party will "bring winter road maintenance and inspections back to the public sector and inspections back to the public sector as each contract expires."

However, according to the Ministry of Transportation, the contracts in place across northeastern Ontario do not expire until between 2022 and 2025.

Timiskaming-Cochrane incumbent candidate John Vanthof says his party stands by the promise and adds the NDP have no intention on breaking any contracts.

John Vanthof is the NDP candidate for Timiskaming-Cochrane. (Erik White/CBC)

"The contracts that aren't nearing completion, we would have to deal with each individual contractor separately," he said.

"We've spoken to the Ontario Road Builders Association and in many ways, I think some of the contracting companies would prefer to be able to bid on the equipment separately, on the material separately, and not have to worry about the actual maintaining the standards, the MTO would be responsible for that."

In a statement to CBC News, Sudbury incumbent Liberal candidate Glenn Thibeault said his party wants to ensure safe roads.

"I intend to bring northern highway maintenance services back into public hands as private contracts expire," he said.

"We've seen this is the best model to ensure that our highways are cleared safely, quickly and regularly."

The PC platform doesn't mention winter highway maintenance, but Sudbury candidate Troy Crowder says the entire system needs to be reviewed.

"Whether we bring in different contractors or put more accountability measures or in cases where certain areas can handle having new public use from our snow plows and snow removal, salting and sanding, if we have the infrastructure there, we'll do it that way," he said.

Troy Crowder is the Progressive Conservative candidate for Sudbury. (Benjamin Aubé/CBC)

According to the Ministry of Transportation, here are the list of current winter highway maintenance contractors in northeastern Ontario:

  • Sudbury area: Emcom - contract begins Sept. 2018, expires 2025
  • North Bay area: Broadspectrum - expires 2025
  • New Liskeard/Cochrane area - IMOS - expires 2022
  • Sault Ste. Marie area - Broadspectrum - expires 2023
  • Huntsville area - Fowler Construction - started May 26, 2018, expires 2025

With files from Martha Dillman

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