Article by: NICK MOORE
“The Liberals are the government. It’s their responsibility to fix the problems as they become evident. It’s evident we don’t have enough people to keep our roads safe,”-David Coon
School bus drivers, paramedics and even snow plow operators in New Brunswick are calling the condition of roadways this winter “deplorable.”
CUPE local, the union representing highways workers, says it’s a sentiment shared by many.“The bus drivers are going out on unsafe roads with children on them. It’s not just the operator in that bus,” says Brien Watson of CUPE.
The paramedics division of CUPE claims it hasn’t been able to get to every call.
“We had a lot of trucks off the road and there were a lot of times we couldn’t answer calls,” says Greg McConaghy of CUPE local 4848. “They’re serious calls and if we can’t get to them, we can’t get them to the hospital.”
CUPE members are asking for an overhaul at the provincial Department of Transportation.
“From 11:00 you haul us off the road. We don’t have any spare operators or alternate operators in those divisions where we can put somebody in those plows, one or two, to keep going up and down, to keep it safe,” says Andy Hardy of CUPE local 1190.
Transportation Minister Bill Fraser says he is looking into it.
“We’re in discussion. In fact, that is one of the things the union brought to us,” says Fraser.Progressive Conservative MLA Jeff Carr says the province isn’t seeing the results despite the increase in funding.“I don’t think the money is the problem. I think there’s lots of opportunity in the inside for these operators to show the minister, if he would listen to them, to show them where the savings can be and how they can do their job more efficient,” says Carr.
CUPE says there’s more than enough blame to be shared between the Liberals and Tories.“This hasn’t happened overnight. This is something that happened years ago,” says Hardy.
“The Liberals are the government. It’s their responsibility to fix the problems as they become evident. It’s evident we don’t have enough people to keep our roads safe,” says New Brunswick Green Party Leader David Coon.Minister Bill Fraser said he will continue meeting with the union.