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Ontario Improving Road Safety in the North

Press Release

November 18, 2022

Province introduces new standard for clearing snow on Highways 11 and 17

THUNDER BAY— The Ontario government is improving road safety in Northern Ontario by clearing Highways 11 and 17 four hours faster than the previous standard. The new “ON Trans-Canada” standard requires contractors to clear the highways to bare pavement within 12 hours of the end of a winter storm.

“Our government is the first to create a new highway level of service that will ensure Highways 11 and 17 are cleared faster, while improving road safety for drivers in the North,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. “Ontario already has nation-leading standards in place when it comes to winter maintenance, and this builds on our government’s broader efforts to ensure we keep it that way.”

The new standard for clearing snow follows a detailed technical review of winter maintenance operations on Highways 11 and 17 and analysis of data from the winter maintenance pilot from the past two winter seasons on these highways.

In addition to the new standard, Ontario has taken several other actions to enhance its winter maintenance on Ontario highways, including:

  • Increased use of underbody plows that have better performance in removal of snowpack as compared to conventional plows.
  • Increased proactive use of anti-icing liquids before storms to make it easier to clear snow.
  • Building an additional 24 Road Weather Information Stations (14 in Northern Ontario) to respond to changing winter weather conditions faster and more effectively.
  • Enhancing 14 rest areas as a safe place to stop during the winter season, including rehabilitation of the rest areas along Highways 11, 17 and 599.
  • Moving ahead with the first-ever 2+1 highway pilot in North America to help make our roads even safer.

Provincial service standards are evaluated on an ongoing basis to determine opportunities to further enhance winter maintenance operations across the highway network.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario is the only province in Canada to have a bare pavement requirement after a storm that is publicly reported (bare pavement means the road is fully clear from snow).
  • In 2020, Ontario released a technical review of Highways 11 and 17 and found levels of service generally met or exceeded provincial standards.
  • The Highway 11/17 winter maintenance pilot ran for two years during the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 winter seasons and helped inform the new 12-hour bare pavement standard on these highways.
  • Ontario has more than 1,100 pieces of equipment ready to fight the harshest winter conditions and our winter maintenance contractors are active 24/7 to clear highways. At the start of a winter storm, maintenance crews deploy their equipment within 30 minutes to plow, salt and sand highways.
  • Before travelling this winter, plan your travel by visiting or using the 511 app available for free on the App Store and Google Play. Ontario 511 allows you to plan your route by reviewing road conditions, cameras, weather, and Track My Plow to find out where plows are on provincial highways.


“Our government is continuously striving to find ways to improve road safety, as evidenced by the new ‘ON Trans-Canada’ standard for Highways 11 and 17, which means Thunder Bay residents can drive more safely this winter.”

– Kevin Holland
MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan

“Our government continues to ensure that Ontario is upholding the highest winter maintenance standards in North America. Clearing Highways 11 and 17 to bare pavement four hours faster following a winter storm will help keep Nipissing residents safe when they travel. We’re building Ontario and growing the North.”

– Victor Fedeli
MPP for Nipissing, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade

“I know firsthand the unique challenges and conditions that drivers face across the Northwestern parts of our province, especially during the winter months. Clearing Highways 11 and 17 at an enhanced rate after snowfall will greatly improve safety and we are pleased to share this great news with drivers across the Kenora-Rainy River region.”

– Greg Rickford
MPP for Kenora—Rainy River, Minister of Northern Development, Minister of Indigenous Affairs

“Keeping our highways clear and the pavement bare quickly after a snowstorm allows commuters along Highways 11 and 17 to stay safe over the winter months. This announcement demonstrates that our government is listening and standing up for the residents of Sault Ste. Marie and those who live in Northern Ontario.”

– Ross Romano
MPP for Sault St. Marie

“We know that individuals across the North share the roads with mining and other resource development vehicles. It is especially important to keep these roads safe and clear during the harsh weather conditions in the North. Clearing Northern highways faster is another step our government is taking to ensure families and workers stay safe this winter.”

– George Pirie
MPP for Timmins, Minister of Mines

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Minister’s Office

Aruna Aundhia
Communications Branch



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