Event of default
By Chad Ingram
The province has the ability to terminate its contract with Carillion.
This is not earth-shattering, but is something I can write with stone-cold certainty now that I have a copy of the contract between the provincial government and the multi-national contractor.
As readers may recall, I requested a copy of the contract during another winter of deplorable highway maintenance earlier this year.
Told by the MTO that I needed to file a Freedom of Information request, I did so. Carillion then appealed the release of the document and we went to mediation with the privacy commissioner’s office.
Since the contract is between the company and a public entity, paid for by the people of Ontario, and since it is a matter not just of general interest but of public safety, the commissioner’s office seemed to agree the company had no place stopping the release of the document and I recently received a copy of the full contract – minus the redacted name of the signing officer.
Like most any contract, it contains opt-out clauses, allowing the provincial government to terminate Carillion’s right to any portion of work or to terminate the contract completely if that work is not being performed properly.
That the winter maintenance of provincial highways in Haliburton County has been deplorable since Carillion took over the job in 2012 is not an opinion as much as it is a fact.
It’s as open to interpretation as whether or not the sun rises each morning.
It’s true the province has a part to play in this, since it lowered performance standards to save money, but it’s clear to those of us who drive the highways in this community that even these new standards are not being adhered to all the time.
The province issues fines to contractors when performance standards are not met (to the tune of millions of dollars per winter), although this doesn’t seem to be sufficient inspiration for them to do their jobs properly.
The contracts contain opt-out clauses and what we need is political will at the provincial level to act on them.
Cancel the contracts and give the work back to the local companies that had previously kept our highways clear and safe.