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Mr. Speaker, I rise in the house today to report progress on curbing one of the biggest dangers on Ontario roads: drunk drivers.
The McGuinty government has made progress, along with our safety partners, in preventing drunk driving deaths on Ontario roads.
This morning, I was pleased to help Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada launch its annual Project Red Ribbon Campaign along with my colleagues Ministers Kwinter and Bryant. MADD Canada is distributing four million of these red ribbons across the country this holiday season.
The red ribbon is a sign of respect for the thousands of people who have lost their lives or who have been injured as a result of impaired driving.
By tying it on your vehicle, you signify a commitment not to drink and drive, and it serves as a reminder to others.
A red ribbon on your car key-chain is also a good reminder.
I'd like to acknowledge the great work MADD does to educate people and prevent impaired driving.
Public education, public awareness and tough penalties are the key to saving lives.
Ontario has some of the toughest anti-drinking and driving laws in North America, including stiff fines, licence suspensions, mandatory remedial measures and an ignition interlock program.
A drunk driving conviction can cost more than $20,000 in fines, insurance and legal fees!
Mr. Speaker, in its 2006 Report, MADD has given Ontario high marks for our impaired driving laws and enforcement.
And, I am proud to report the latest statistics show the number of fatalities involving a drinking driver in Ontario fell by more than 11 per cent in 2004, compared to the year before. (192 in 2004 from 217 in 2003 according to ORSAR 2004)
This shows our tough laws and public education efforts such as the Red Ribbon Campaign are working.
Mr. Speaker, the latest statistics show Ontario has the safest roads in North America for the second year in a row. And, we have the lowest rate of alcohol-related road deaths in Canada.
But the simple fact is that drunk driving costs lives — too many lives.
Drinking and driving is still a factor in about one quarter of all fatal collisions in Ontario.
Mr. Speaker, that's why we have tough laws to stop people from drinking and driving.
And that's why our government is working with MADD Canada and other community groups and organizations to educate the public, and raise awareness.
I'm looking forward to our continued partnership with MADD and police services across the province to counter impaired driving.
Mr. Speaker, I ask all Members to join me and "tie one on for safety."
We must all urge everyone not to drink and drive this holiday season — and all year round.