Yes. The report of the New Brunswick auditor general, Daryl Wilson, yesterday leaves little doubt that the former Liberal government painted itself into a corner with the Moncton to Fredericton and Moncton to Saint John toll highway deal by failing to explore several alternative options. Again, when there are no federal funding programs, no national standards and no set of rules to follow, the provinces will get creative.
We have two inappropriate deals in Atlantic Canada, one in Nova Scotia and one in New Brunswick. Again I say, this is not only me finding fault, it is all three auditor generals. There are no more auditor generals to find fault with it. Everyone of them have found fault with these programs. That is what happens when we do not have a federal funding program.
The problem is really serious now. It is getting to the point where action has to be taken. Two years ago, the minister said that highway refunding was a top priority for him, but he has done nothing about it. As I said earlier, 38% of Canada's national highway system is now deemed in need of major repair, estimated at $17 billion.
Why do we have this problem? For one thing, highways do not deteriorate on a straight line basis. They stay solid for some time. When they start to deteriorate, they deteriorate quickly. If they are not maintained, they will go beyond the point of no repair and then must be replaced. Because there has been very little maintenance in the last five or six years on highways in Canada, we find ourselves with some very serious problems.
Another reason is that there has been no funding program for the last five years. I believe the last programs were signed by the Conservatives. I am not sure of that, but I think that is exactly right.
The next government policy that has caused these problems is the policy to reduce the number of trains that take heavy freight and heavy tariffs from coast to coast. By reducing the train routes and tearing up short lines all over the country, it has forced traffic and goods onto the highways. This means bigger trucks, more trucks and more damage to the highways. That is another government policy that has built on this.
Another one is simply that the international truck traffic has tripled in 10 years, up 300%. Again, that means more trucks, bigger trucks, more damage, worn out highways, rutted highways, broken highways and unsafe highways. Although I talked about Atlantic Canada a lot earlier, this is not only Atlantic Canada. I have just picked a couple of highways that are particularly infamous for their problems.
Quebec highway 75 from Quebec City to Chicoutimi is an example of a very dangerous highway. This highway has not been fixed and instead of fixing it, they have increased the policing to make sure people go real slow because the highway is deficient, not adequate and cannot handle the traffic.
In Alberta, highway 2 south and highway 1 east, which was designed for much less traffic than they experience now, cannot handle it.
Then, of course, there is the infamous highway 401 in Windsor where there have been so many tragic accidents. Even in the new territory of Nunavut, there is no road link and no highway system at all. This is an issue that goes coast to coast, involves every province and every territory.
When I was first assigned the duty of transport critic, I wrote every minister of transportation in every province and asked them what their number one problem was. Every single one of them who answered said that highway funding was the number one problem.