TORONTO, Ont. – The union representing commercial vehicle safety inspectors is urging the provincial government to hire more enforcement officers in the wake of a scathing report from Ontario’s auditor general.
In her annual report, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk said the Ministry of Transportation had missed the opportunity to remove thousands of unsafe commercial vehicles from Ontario’s roads because there were not enough staff to inspect them.
Her audit found that between 2014 and 2018, the number of inspections the ministry conducted decreased by 22%, from over 113,000 in 2014 to fewer than 89,000 in 2018, because the ministry was unable to fill officer vacancies.
On Sunday, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union called for urgent action.
OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas said that the auditor general had failed to point out that the quality of inspections had also nose-dived.
“It’s easy to stop trucks that are a simple and clean inspection to meet ministry quantitative targets. But easy inspections don’t take bad trucks and bad operators off the road,” he said.
OPSEU first vice-president Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida said the ministry needs to hire enough inspectors so they have the time to check the bad trucks and the bad operators.
The union said one chronic problem the ministry has not yet addressed is hiring and retention.
Being an enforcement officer and auditor comes with threats, violence and exposure to extreme weather, as well as coming into contact with chemicals and biohazards, it said.
“The Ministry of Transportation continues to see hiring pools shrink substantially because of the very difficult, even hazardous, working conditions,” said Thomas.
“If this government is serious about making our roads safe, they’ll have to make the job more desirable so we can attract the quality and quantity of officers that Ontario’s drivers need and expect.”
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