Winter Road Conditions Result in Fines

Highway 11 north of Nipigon has had numerous accidents this winter.
Highway 11 north of Nipigon has had numerous accidents this past winter.

Highway 17 north of Nipigon has had numerous accidents this winter.
Highway 17 north of Nipigon has had numerous accidents this winter.

THUNDER BAY – Editorial – Winter road conditions have caused a number of accidents across Northern Ontario.  The Province has fined Transfield Services in Kenora, Carillion Canada Inc. for Thunder Bay East and Integrated Maintenance and Operations Services (IMOS) for Thunder Bay West.

Residents across the region have been raising concerns over the conditions of highways in the region for sometime, the Move by the Ministry of Transport to fine the three companies for an undisclosed amount of money should be a start in making the situation better.

However the fact that it took fines to make a difference is telling.  The number of accidents, injuries and deaths on Northern Ontario roads over the past two winters has been climbing. The real message might be that the Ontario Government needs to be more involved in monitoring the highway conditions across our region.

Part of the concern is also that highways in most parts of Northwestern Ontario are left without wireless phone coverage meaning that after there is an accident it can take a lot longer for first responders to arrive at the scene.

An accident that happens outside of Kenora, Dryden, or along Highway 11 or 17 can take the better part of an hour before emergency help can arrive. Medical experts share that the “Golden Hour”, a time frame when a person can often be saved if they can get to advanced life support, is an important consideration.

In Northwestern Ontario, much of that “Golden Hour” can be used up getting the incident reported, and then having the first responders travel to the scene. While there has been a lot of discussion about having twinned highways as a safety measure, the other part should be ensuring that the highways across Northwestern Ontario are also ‘digital highways’ with cellular phone service.

Northwestern Ontario is increasingly not isolated, and having the highways cleared of snow properly, and having easier access to advanced life support should be no-brainers.

James Murray