Ontario conducted hundreds of investigations on road maintenance contractors
Road maintenance company Carillion Canada recently came under fire from the province for the third time after allegedly failing to provide adequate services on New Year’s Day.
But new numbers suggest investigations into private contractors are more common than originally thought.
CTV News has learned that, in 2015 alone, the Ministry of Transportation conducted 199 unplanned investigations into dangerous or suspect road conditions.
The provincial government is currently investigating Carillion after icy conditions on GTA highways caused dozens of accidents on New Year’s Day.
Carillion Canada is paid $87 million per year to maintain highways in Halton and Peel regions, as well as highways in other parts of Ontario.
On New Year’s Day, a total of 22 crashes occurred on sections of Highway 403 the company is responsible for servicing.
NDP transport critic Wayne Gates says Carillion should be forced to pay the steep fines it is already facing for failing to maintain roads last winter
“The government has to admit we have a problem,” he said. “The company that has been fined close to $1 million, they’re just standing back and saying they’re not paying the fine. That doesn’t make any sense to me.”
The province should force Carillion to pay the fine or terminate the company’s contract, Gates said. “That should get their attention.”
Carillion’s website reveals the company is looking to hire snow plow operators, despite having told the province in December it had enough resources to deliver adequate services this winter.
“Companies don’t put up ‘help wanted’ signs unless there’s a need there,” Gates said.
Privatized winter road maintenance was first introduced in 2009.
In 2015, the Auditor General of Ontario concluded that the new government contracts have resulted in lower levels of winter highway maintenance.
The government can terminate contracts “when an Area Maintenance Contractor’s performance does not improve, having failed to demonstrate…that changes have been made to remedy the situation,” the MTO said in a statement.
No contracts have yet been terminated, but a few have ended early when the province and the contractor agreed the deal was not benefiting either party.