MTO & Metrolinx - Road Construction & Contract Oversight
Statement from Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation
"I would like to thank the Auditor General for her recommendations on construction and contractor oversight at both the Ministry of Transportation and Metrolinx.
To begin, I was encouraged to see that the comprehensive actions taken by the Ministry in response to the previous audit on winter highway maintenance -- which have resulted in 84 per cent of the recommendations included in that report being fully or partially implemented -- were acknowledged by the Auditor General.
Regarding this year's audit, I want to be completely clear.
The Ministry does not pay for substandard work and, in fact, applies financial consequences to contractors that do not meet our requirements. I also want to make it clear that increases to the highway budget over the last few years are due to one thing and one thing only: a clear recognition of the need to ensure that Ontario's extensive transportation system continues to perform effectively.
And we know that our investments are working and that the condition of our pavements and bridges has improved significantly. In 2007, 59 per cent of provincial pavements and 69 per cent of provincial bridges were classified as being in good repair -- these numbers have significantly increased, as nearly 80 per cent of provincial pavements and 85 per cent of provincial bridges are now classified as being in good repair.
Having said that, I take the concerns raised by the Auditor General very seriously and, as such, I have directed ministry staff to develop a decisive action plan that will address the recommendations in the report.
The full plan is to be delivered to me within 60 days, and I will make it -- and our progress with respect to implementing it -- public.
Specifically, I can confirm today that this action plan will include the following:
- To ensure that we receive high quality and durable asphalt we will change how we pay contractors for asphalt
- Deploying the "extended aging" test for asphalt cement, which the Ministry began using on select contracts last year, to all relevant paving contracts
- Starting in 2017, the care, control and oversight of asphalt samples used for testing will be the responsibility of the Ministry
- Steps will be taken to ensure that there is appropriate independence between the engineers who verify construction quality and the contractors responsible for a project.
I think it is also important to note that many of the concerns outlined by the Auditor General are items that we have already been addressing.
Regarding her comments on asphalt cement, Ontario has been at the forefront in both identifying the underlying problem and developing solutions and the appropriate tests. There has been significant debate between different experts and jurisdictions regarding the root cause of the asphalt cracking and the Ministry has been working hard to implement various solutions.
To that end, we have already fully implemented one of our new asphalt tests and have been phasing in the second, with all relevant paving contracts to include the Extended Aging test in 2017.
As it relates to Metrolinx, in March of this year, I issued a letter of direction to Metrolinx designed to improve financial and contract management at the agency.
I released our report back recently and have also provided a mandate letter for the agency. It is my view that these proactive steps will help to address the recommendations made by the Auditor General with respect to Metrolinx.
As minister, I take my responsibilities for Ontario's transportation network seriously. Through our ongoing work with Metrolinx and our forthcoming action plan regarding highway construction, I am confident that we will continue to deliver on our mandate to provide a transportation system that meets the needs of Ontario's growing population."