Skip to main content

A snowy drive on Hwy. 401 in Toronto in 2013.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

A company already facing $900,000 in fines for failing to clear Ontario highways in 2014 is under investigation again by the Ministry of Transportation after a series of accidents in Peel and Halton regions on New Year's Day.

The ministry is checking to see exactly when Carillion Canada dispatched salt spreaders and how much salt was applied on the Queen Elizabeth Way and on sections of Highways 400, 401, 403, 410 and 427 during a Jan. 1 storm.

About 20 accidents were reported on highways west and north of Toronto that day, and the ministry says the "weather-related" mishaps were a factor in deciding to conduct a full review of Carillion's actions.

Story continues below advertisement

Carillion, which has 6,000 employees in Canada and 40,000 worldwide, was awarded eight of Ontario's 20 road maintenance contracts, worth a total of $87 million per year.

The company is still fighting the fines levied by the ministry for failing to properly clear the QEW of snow and ice during storms in November and December 2014.

A Transportation Ministry spokesman says talks with Carillion on the size of the fines are continuing, and mediation or even litigation could be needed to reach a final agreement.

Transportation Minister Stephen Del Duca said the investigation into the 2014 storms found Carillion was late in deploying snow clearing and de-icing equipment, and did not apply enough salt on the highway.

"I take my responsibility with winter driving safety very seriously and, as keeping Ontario's roads safe is a shared responsibility, I expect all of our contractors and their employees to do the same," Del Duca said in a statement.

The opposition parties say the Liberal government lowered standards for road maintenance contracts in 2009 to reduce costs, which they blame for dangerous driving conditions during the winter months.

"The Liberals were caught last year lowering safety standards on our highways just to save a few bucks," said Progressive Conservative transportation critic Michael Harris.

Story continues below advertisement

"We now know that the Liberals' mismanagement has created even more dangerous driving conditions on the winter roads, putting the lives of motorists at risk."

Ontario's auditor general found that the government did save money on road maintenance contracts, but at a cost that included taking twice as long to clear highways of snow or ice than it did previously, nearly five hours in some cases.

The auditor also reported the government had waived $4.8 million of $13.3 million in fines levied against contractors in the winter of 2013-14.

The New Democrats asked the government to release all the non-compliance reports on all road maintenance contractors, and the results of the latest investigation into Carillion.

"Last year, Ontario's auditor-general reported that private road maintenance companies are using less salt and de-icing fluid," said NDP transportation critic Wayne Gates. "So far, it looks like the ministry hasn't solved the problems."

The Liberal government came under fire after admitting some of the companies awarded road maintenance contracts did not have the equipment to do the job.

Story continues below advertisement

Carillion did not respond to requests for comment on the latest investigation or its fight against the $900,000 in fines imposed in 2014.

Report an error
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter