Province should put brakes on plan to close highway rest areas: MGEU

"If the Minister and the Premier are concerned with making our highways safer, their review should be looking at where to add new rest areas, not cut.” — Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU President

Winnipeg (29 May 2018) — Drivers know that it’s always best to pull over for a rest when getting tired behind the wheel. But the Manitoba government is contemplating cuts that will make it harder for drivers to do just that.

Closing rest stations will create dangerous highway conditions

Ron Schuler, Minister of Infrastructure, says they are conducting a review to consider closing some highway rest areas, including the Pine Grove rest area — the only one on the Trans-Canada highway between the Ontario border and Winnipeg.

Schuler says a new sewage lagoon is needed at Pine Grove, which he claims could cost up to $1.6 million.

“It’s sad the government is once again cutting services and putting the bottom line ahead of the safety of Manitobans,” says Michelle Gawronsky, President of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE). “If you look at other provinces and other nearby states, we have far too few rest areas on our busiest highways. If the Minister and the Premier are concerned with making our highways safer, their review should be looking at where to add new rest areas, not cut.”

Government wants to force travelers to use private businesses as rest areas

If the rest area is closed, Schuler’s only advice for highway travelers is to use a gas station along the route. But Gawronsky notes that not all businesses want people using their property to park and sleep or use their bathrooms without making a purchase.

“If that’s the government’s solution, then what this really amounts to is privatizing yet another public service. Another likely scenario is that we’ll see more people parking on the side of the highway to rest or relieve themselves and I think it’s pretty obvious to see how easily that becomes a safety hazard for everyone.”

Please sign the online petition that has been launched to save the Pine Grove rest area. As of publication, more than 3,300 people have signed it, urging the government to keep this much-needed rest area open. 

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE