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Rickford FACTS about the NDP Winter Roads Bill

Rickford FACTS about the NDP Winter Roads Bill

The story of the northern roads bill

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO - November 15, 2019  (LSN)   The story of the northern roads bill is that the NDP proposed a Private Members Bill asking that Hwy 11/17 be classified as a Class 1 highway (same as the 400-series). Which would mean the roads must be plowed within 8 hours of a storm. In actuality, Highway 11/17 is already plowed within 7 hours on average.Here is Minister Rickford’s response to the private member's bill being defeated.

Thanks for those who inquired about the northern roads private member's bill. I think it is important to state some of the facts on this matter.

The FACTS about the NDP Winter Roads Bill…

1 - The NDP should have done a little research instead of looking for headlines. In actuality, on average, bare pavement is already reached on Hwys. 11 and 17 within 7 hours. That is SOONER than the 8-hour time-frame the NDP was asking for in their Bill. Why would we support worse conditions? This was about the NDP looking for a headline and not actually improving safety.

2 - All 3 Northern Cabinet Ministers were spread across Ontario to speak on the Fall Economic Statement. I flew to Thunder Bay late Wednesday night to be there on Thursday for a sold-out crowd at the Chamber of Commerce to speak at their Leaders Luncheon. I think that Northerners appreciate the fact that 3 Northern PC Members have a seat at the Cabinet table.

3 - After that luncheon we headed out on Highway 17 for the six-hour ride back to Kenora with a couple of stops along the way with constituents. (photo below of the new stretch of highway between Ignace and Dryden)

Here is what we are doing with respect to the questions about northern roads:

MTO is spending about $40 million more on winter maintenance in Northern Ontario compared to the 2015/16 winter. That was the year that Vic Fedeli had brought the road conditions in the North to the floor of the Legislature. The Auditor-General showed us that the Liberals saved $36 million by cutting the monitoring of the plowing.

MTO has made enhanced public information a priority. Public messaging includes driving according to road and weather conditions.

The Ontario 511 website is now mobile friendly and has new information including weather radar, forecasted driving conditions, more cameras, and ‘Track my Plow’ to assist the public with planning their travel in the winter months.

I travel our northern roads extensively, given the vastness of the Kenora Rainy-River Riding. It is a three-hour drive from one side of the riding to another on highway 17 or highway 71. I understand the need for safe conditions. In fact, extensive investments have been made across the northwest in highways infrastructure projects this past summer to work towards that goal.

Wishing everyone safe travels this weekend as we pause tomorrow to reflect and remember on Remembrance Day.

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