A company hired to ensure road safety on part of the Queen Elizabeth Way is facing a hefty fine for failing to provide adequate services during a 2014 snowstorm.

Five centimetres of snow began falling on the GTA on Nov. 19, 2014, but there was no salt or sand spread over the QEW in Burlington, Oakville and Mississauga, leaving thousands of drivers facing dangerous conditions.

Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca says Carillion, the contractor responsible for the icy stretch of highway, has been fined $500,000 for non-compliance.

This year, the Ontario government is promising better safety services on roads and highways.

“I think all of our contractors right across the province do understand,” Del Duca said. “They themselves drive our roads, they have employees who drive our roads, and they have family members who drive our roads. They get it.”

But opposition parties are still accusing the government of lowering road maintenance standards and putting drivers at risk.

The province decided to change its winter roads maintenance program in 2009. In an attempt to reduce costs, it chose the lowest bidding road maintenance contractors, a step critics say has resulted in more dangerous driving conditions.

“They put more motorists’ lives at risk when they changed those contracts,” said Progressive Conservative transport critic Michael Harris. “They watered down the standards to save a few dollars and that’s a simple fact.”

The Auditor General of Ontario concluded this year that the new government contracts have resulted in lower levels of winter highway maintenance.

After nearly a year since the highway debacle, Carillion is still fighting the government and the fines.

Carillion was also fined $400,000 for its inadequate response to another storm in December 2014.

The company has refused to comment on the issue.

With a report from CTV Queen’s Park Bureau Chief Paul Bliss