Transportation ministers meetings enhance cooperation
Investing in infrastructure -
Enhancing road safety, supporting trade, fostering innovation, and addressing climate change were key priorities discussed at meetings of Canada’s ministers of transportation and highway safety today (January 29) in Ottawa.
Prince Edward Island’s own minister of transportation, infrastructure and energy, Paula Biggar, attended the meetings and was pleased with the collective agreement to prioritize stronger, safer, and more sustainable transportation across the country. She also shared with her colleagues the steps the provincial government has taken to make Island roads safer through legislation, enforcement, education, and engineering.
“Reliable transportation corridors keep travelers safe, help get our products to market, and enable economic and community growth,” Minister Biggar said. “The discussions today will help inform our province’s work going forward as we continue to work with our partners to make key investments in road infrastructure.”
While the number of drivers and vehicles on Prince Edward Island roads has steadily increased in the past several decades, fatalities, collisions, collisions with injuries, and impaired driving have consistently decreased during the same time period.
The federal, provincial, and territorial transportation ministers also discussed the following topics.
With the upcoming legalization of cannabis, ministers are taking steps to ensure roads will continue to be safer across the county: enforcement and public education are top priorities.
Prince Edward Island is well-positioned in respect to legislation with amendments implemented in 2012 to treat drug impairment or a combination of drug and alcohol impairment under the Criminal Code of Canada with the same penalties as alcohol impairment under the province’s Highway Traffic Act. Minister Biggar updated the group on Prince Edward Island’s current work to strengthen roadside suspensions and create a summary offense in cases of impaired driving with a minor, with potential for increasing penalties in the future.
Ministers recognized that transportation contributes significantly to greenhouse gas and other harmful air emissions, and are advancing initiatives to move toward lower carbon transportation.
Prince Edward Island has established a Transportation Energy Committee, a key recommendation of the province’s Energy Strategy. The committee has been given the mandate to examine and implement energy saving policies. These could include installation of public charging infrastructure, expansion of cycling lanes and active transportation corridors across the province and the implementation of strategies to make traffic more efficient and reduce energy use.
The ministers endorsed a report on the opportunities and challenges associated with automated vehicles. They agreed to develop a strategy to facilitate their integration, including their testing, on public roads.
Ministers also met, for the first time as a group, with Indigenous representatives to have a dialogue on shared transportation issues and on a cooperative relationship going forward.