Ontario jobs agreement paves way for Trans-Canada Highway twinning

WINNIPEG –

Katherine Rogers is a regular on the Trans-Canada Highway from the Manitoba border to Kenora, Ont. She delivers cars for a living year-round, and knows what it’s like navigating the two-lane roadway during cottage season.

“It does slow things down cause there’s a lot more traffic,” Rogers said.

She is also familiar with the slippery conditions brought on by winter.

“If you’re sliding that way, you have nowhere to go except into the other lane, and I think that that’s dangerous,” she said.

“It would be great if it had more lanes, four lanes, a division in the middle.”

Good news for Rogers and other Kenora-bound drivers – construction could be around the corner.

The Ontario government is taking another step towards its plans of twinning the road between the Manitoba border and Kenora.

Ontario announced 110 Indigenous workers from four First Nations, including Shoal Lake 40, will be trained for construction jobs on the project.

“We’ll build a better, safer transportation corridor for all of us,” said Chief Lorraine Cobiness of the Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation.

The $3.7 million program will provide up to $3,000 per worker for transportation, child care and other expenses.

Some of the jobs pay as much as $44 per hour.

“I’m particularly excited that they will open up many new employment opportunities for young people, jobs that pay well.” said Greg Rickford, Ontario’s minister of northern development.

On top of the construction craft, the training also includes school upgrading, driver’s education and workplace safety.

This comes after the First Nations struck a deal with the Ontario government in the spring, granting the province access to land to start construction.

“Economic reconciliation is the key word that comes to mind,” said Chief Chris Skead of the Wauzhushk Onigum Nation.

It’s not yet known when construction could begin, but an announcement on timelines is expected later this month.

The training is set to run between March 2022 and July 2023.

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