08/28/2013

In March 2013, Bill 34, the Highway Traffic Statute Law Amendment Act was introduced to help improve municipal collection of defaulted Provincial Offences Act (POA) fines.
While all three parties at Queen’s Park have spoken in favour of the Bill, it remains at Second Reading and awaits passage.    

If passed, Bill 34 would require the payment of parking tickets and other violations before the Ministry of Transportation issues or renews a license plate permit.  Over $1 million in municipal fines go unpaid and uncollected each week across Ontario.  AMO urges all parties to accelerate passage of this bill.  

The last several years have seen progressive efforts to provide municipalities with meaningful tools to collect unpaid fines.  AMO made addressing unpaid Provincial Offences Act (POA) fines one of its Top 12 Asks, a key municipal priority leading up to the 2011 provincial election.  The 2012 Drummond Commission also recommended enhancements to POA fine collection. In March 2012, the provincial budget delivered with some key commitments to improve the collection of unpaid fines. This included two new tools – vehicle license plate denial, and offsetting unpaid fines against federal income tax refunds.  

As a result of the 2012 budget commitment, the Ministry of Transportation established a committee to explore this issue in greater detail. This committee of multiple ministries and municipal representatives developed a solid plan to deliver improvements.  Bill 34 is the key first step.

Starting in 1997, responsibility for POA administration, including courts and fine collection, was transferred to municipalities. This system is used to prosecute non-criminal charges such as traffic offences, trespassing charges and liquor licensing violations. Since the transfer, municipalities have had difficulty collecting many outstanding fines and lacked key enforcement and collection tools.  While there have been previous efforts to address this issue over the years, most have fallen short of the significant improvements required.  Bill 34 would go a long way to improving the administration of justice in Ontario.