TORONTO—Ontario will stop giving highway contractors certain bonuses for asphalt quality after the auditor general reported some were tampering with samples.
It's one of several dozen items the Liberal government says it will address in an Action Plan for Highway Construction Contracts and Oversight released Feb. 17.
In her annual report, the auditor general slammed the government for poor road contractor oversight, saying pavement on some Ontario roads and highways that is supposed to last 10 to 15 years starts to crack after just two or three.
She also found that the ministry was paying $8 million in bonuses each year to contractors who provide the quality of asphalt required in their contract, and bonuses even went to contractors who tampered with their asphalt samples just to qualify for the extra money.
Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca says the measures in the action plan will go into effect this construction season to ensure "Ontario's highway network can withstand regular use and our harsh climate."
Requirements for asphalt for Ontario highways will be strengthened and inspections will be increased, under the plan. Ontario will also stop using recycled asphalt pavement in the roadway's top layer where long-lasting pavement is needed.
The ministry will ensure it has complete custody of asphalt samples and implement fraud prevention training for staff. Ontario will also establish an expert panel to provide advice on contract provisions.
The auditor said that the ministry was lenient with contractors who performed poorly and even awarded projects to contractors who had breached safety regulations.
Ontario said it will improve oversight of contracts by launching a province-wide tracking system and review how the ministry can stop contractors from bidding if performance issues have been identified.