08/12/2012

The POA system is used to prosecute non-criminal charges such as traffic offences, trespassing charges and liquor license violations.

Provincial Offences Act Each and every week across Ontario, more than $1 million in municipal fines go unpaid and uncollected. Municipalities in Ontario are responsible for the administration of the Provincial Offences Act (POA) and collecting fines. The POA system is used to prosecute non-criminal charges such as traffic offences, trespassing charges and liquor license violations. 

To improve the administration of justice under the POA, AMO is representing municipal interests by advocating for better tools to enforce the Act and collect unpaid fines.

AMO’s Work

The responsibility for POA administration was transferred to municipalities in 1997. Since then, municipalities have lacked the necessary tools to collect all outstanding fines. Ontarians are left to wonder why we have a system that allows some fines to go unpaid.

AMO’s advocacy for more tools to help municipalities administer the POA spans more than seven years. Between 2006 and 2009, AMO participated in the Provincial Offences Act Streamlining Working Group. The Group made recommendations to the Ministry of the Attorney General to improve the local delivery of justice. Some of the recommendations were enacted but more work was needed to significantly improve fine collection. 

In 2011, AMO made “provide tools for collecting $1 billion in unpaid Provincial Offences Act fines” part of its Top 12 Asks Campaign. The Campaign was launched leading up to the 2012 provincial election and was designed to highlight how provincial parties could support key municipal priorities and improve the lives of all Ontarians. 

In his 2012 report, Don Drummond recommended enhancements to POA fine collection and the 2012 provincial budget included key commitments to improve the collection of unpaid fines under the POA.

Soon after, the Ministry of Transportation established a committee to explore possible improvements. Today this committee of multiple ministries and municipal representatives is working through detailed options to deliver improved fine collection.

Outcome and Long-term Benefits

While work continues, AMO’s long-term advocacy on this issue has achieved some success. Measures introduced in the 2012 provincial budget include vehicle licence plate denial for unpaid fines that relate to the operation of a vehicle. The Province is also pursuing discussions with the federal government to offset unpaid fines against federal tax refunds. 

AMO’s work improving POA administration continues with the goal of more effective tools for municipalities to collect unpaid fines.