KAWARTHA LAKES, Ont. – After learning of City Council’s plan to contract out more winter road maintenance, Kawartha Lakes municipal workers, members of Canadian Union of Employees (CUPE) Local 855, want residents to know the dangers associated with contracting out road maintenance work to private companies.
With recent winters proving to be anything but predictable, good road maintenance remains crucial to driver safety and the prevention of accidents. But chronic underfunding has created a crisis that is putting enormous pressure on municipalities to privatize city services, such as road maintenance, regardless of the detrimental impact it will have on future city budgets and the quality of life of community members.
“We are deeply concerned about the implications for public safety in City Council’s decision to contract out certain plow routes for winter maintenance, said CUPE 855 President Lyn Edwards. Time and time again, it has been proven that contracting out results in poor services and ends up costing more for taxpayers in the long run.”
A decision by Manitoba’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation against privatizing the delivery of public highway maintenance concluded that while it lowers initial costs, it ultimately proves to be equally or more expensive than public maintenance.
“We are urging council to explore other options and are willing to work with them to find a solution to keep this service in public hands, Edwards added. Cost-cutting should not come at the expense of people’s safety!”
The decision – done without any public consultation – has the potential to put at risk the safety of road users, but also raises huge concerns as to the wisdom behind the privatization of winter road maintenance. Lack of accountability, poor quality of service and higher costs to taxpayers have led to a review by Ontario’s Auditor General examining winter road maintenance programs and the contracts negotiated with private contractors across the province.
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