The state of northern highways has reached a point far beyond what is acceptable. With The Pas’ council recently meeting to demand action from the province, the long-standing issues and concerns regarding the safety of Highway 6 need to be addressed.
Northern highways are the essential arteries of the north, as residents must regularly travel far out of their own communities to get medical treatment. The ‘Safer Highway 6 Citizen’s Action Group’ which was formed to pressure the municipality to act on making these roads safer for our communities to travel is amazing to see, however, it signifies the straw that broke the camel's back.
People are demanding action from the communities, and the communities in turn are demanding action from the province. What is so disappointing however is that the province has repeatedly ignored the calls of northern MLAs like myself, communities, and citizens, despite lives continually being lost.
These are the real results of the government's austerity and cuts to the north. Northern Manitoban families and communities affected by these dangerous roads have lived through the declining support of this government. The province has continually underspent funds for infrastructure investments, and the tangible effects of this are felt by community members as families are put in danger.
Despite demands for action by Northern NDP MLAs, including Tom Lindsey, Eric Redhead, Ian Bushie, and myself, the province has not reversed cuts or committed to spending the allocated budget for northern infrastructure.
For years now we have been proposing bills which would establish standards for clearing snow from provincial roads which had the support of many northern communities, however, the government’s response has always been one of inaction. The government denied repeatedly that there have been no cuts or vacancies in northern road maintenance, but we know that this is a lie. They cut sixty road maintenance positions over the past four years and failed to fill 47% of long-standing vacancies in the northern region. 120 positions have not been filled as of yet, and the silence from the government is deafening.
This citizens committee has asked communities to call on the province to improve northern highway safety. The work of the citizen's committee is inspiring, and we can only hope that the Minister can respond in a meaningful and timely manner. This work done by community members seeks justice for those who have been injured or lost their lives due to the state of northern highways.
Highways should be invested in by this government, as they are essential for northern families' educational, medical, and personal needs. Without immediate and adequate attention being given to northern roads, we will continue to see families being put in danger, and the inaction of our government to not fix the problem shows they continue to leave the north behind.
If you have questions or concerns that you would like to speak to me about, please do not hesitate to contact our office. You can reach my office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1(204) 623-2034. Kinanaskomitin.