Community leaders say: we want public plowing

Snowplow in winter plowing snow

More than 1,000 Ontarians have written to their politicians demanding a return to public plowing.

And Ontario’s political and community leaders are responding. Across the province, politicians are urging the government to come clean on the future of Carillion snow-plowing in Ontario. Many of them say those plowing contracts should be brought back under public management and oversight.

“It’s been reported that Carillion Canada will run out of funds in just 11 days – with no assurances that roads and highways will be cleared, or that road workers and subcontractors will be paid, after February 19,” wrote NDP Transportation Critic Wayne Gates in an open letter to Transportation Minister Kathryn McGarry.

“If there is a new agreement in place to ensure highways are plowed now and the safety of drivers and their children and grandchildren are protected, and that the jobs of snow plow operators will be protected, I’m calling on you to disclose this agreement now.”

In the community of Bancroft, municipal council is clearly tired of the poor performance and unreliability of private plowing. The town’s manager of public works says he’s drawing up plans to “permanently” take over the plowing of the 11-kilometre stretch of highway near the town that Carillion currently plows.

“We have the facilities, we have the equipment, and we have the staff to continue the service of the connecting links maintenance without interruption,” Perry Kelly told Bancroft This Week.

Kelly says municipal employees will be able to plow the highway better and less expensively than Carillion, leading to safer highways and significant savings for the town.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas agrees. He says it’s time for the province to bring all of its private plowing contracts back in-house.

“Carillion was a mess, and its sudden demise puts services, workers, and the public at needless risk,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas in a news release. “We have to protect ourselves from privatization disasters like this by bringing these services back in-house.”

Meanwhile, Ontario PC Transportation Critic Michael Harris echoes the calls for transparency.

“I am asking you to please inform Ontario families within the next week of any contingencies your government has put in place to ensure that roads will continue to be plowed, and families will be able to get to and from work, hockey practice, and errands safely,” Harris wrote in a letter.