Be careful: Ontario’s winter roads ‘less safe’ since privatization - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

Be careful: Ontario’s winter roads ‘less safe’ since privatization

In an effort to reduce costs, the Ontario government privatized and contracted out winter road maintenance. However, a report by the Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk, found that contracting out winter road maintenance led to longer clearing times and more dangerous roads.

“In the past, highways were cleared much faster,” the auditor told reporters Wednesday, noting that “preliminary results show an increase in the number of deaths on Ontario highways in 2013 where snow, slush or ice was a factor.”

The Ministry of Transportation (Ontario) didn’t always outsource or contract out winter maintenance. Prior to the 1980’s, all winter highway maintenance was preformed in house consisting of its own staff, equipment operators, fleets, materials and stockyards. However, in a bid to cut costs, the Ministry began contracting out some services and by 1996, approximately half of the provincial highway network was outsourced.

The movement to full outsourcing began in 1996, the main objective was to reduce staffing and associated costs to save approximately $10 million / year. By 2000, the Ministry had outsourced all winter highway maintenance. According to the report, the Ministry was still ultimately responsible and liable for ensuring the safety of the provincial highway system.

Where does this bring us? The Ministry forecasted that moving to “Performance-Based” contracts could result in annual savings of $4.6 million. This meant phasing out managed outsourcing.

Ok, how does “performance-based” contracts work?

  • The awarder of the contract (Ministry) sets standards and outcome targets for the contract to meet.
  • The contractor, not the awarder (Ministry) performs the patrols to determine what’s needed, and plans and manages all the work

Basically, the contractor determines how to administer and deliver the end result. This leads to a conflict of interest as companies maximize profits and avoid on-the-road supervision by the Ministry of Transportation.

The end result? Over the past 5 years, beginning in 2009 when “performance-based” contracts were introduced, highway-clearing times have doubled (from the time a snow-storm hits until the pavement is bare).

There have also been startling cases that have resulted in devastating accidents. One example, provided by The Toronto Star, an Ontario contractor refused to clear winter roads, which resulted in a 14-trailer pileup that forced extensive highway closures and injuries.

The issue is an important one to Jeremy Diamond and the team. Just recently Sandra Zisckind was on air with Avery Haines to discuss the sad state of Ontario’s roads.

Have you or a loved one been injured on one of Ontario’s provincial highways? Call Jeremy Diamond, Sandra Zisckind or anyone on the team at Diamond & Diamond Personal Injury Lawyers. We will work tirelessly to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Call us for a free consultation at 1-800-567-HURT (4878) or visit us here.

The full report by the auditory general can be found here.

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