|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 9, 1999
OPSEU calls for
independent investigation of Highway 401 safety
TORONTO -- OPSEU President Leah Casselman has called on David Turnbull, Ontario
Minister of Transportation, to appoint an independent investigator to look into highway
safety on a 66-kilometre stretch of Highway 401 near Chatham, where 15 people have died in
12 accidents in just five months.
"The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario is investigating that stretch of road,
and it should be," she said. "But we are very concerned that Ministry staff will
not take in to account either the privatization of highway maintenance on that stretch of
road or the layoff of hundreds of highway construction inspectors since 1996."
The Chatham area was the first to see the privatization of
highway maintenance following the June 1995 election of the Mike Harris Conservatives.
Private maintenance began Dec. 1, 1996 on approximately 1,500 kilometres of provincial
highway in Essex, Kent, Lambton, and parts of Elgin and Middlesex Counties.
"Privatization of highway maintenance and increased self-regulation by private
construction contractors are political priorities of this government," Casselman
said. "There is a potential conflict of interest if government merely investigates
OPSEU warned of potential safety hazards when the privatization of highway maintenance
was first proposed. In a 1996 report, the union warned that a focus on private
profit would necessarily take money away from the quality of maintenance.
"While driver error is a factor in every accident, it seems highly unusual that
one short stretch of road should somehow attract worse drivers than any other stretch of
road," Casselman said. "Weve got to find out whats happening before
one more person dies."
- 30 -
For more information: Randy Robinson (416) 448-7441
Return to Top