August 2017
Backgrounder

Starting in 1997, the Province transferred responsibility for the Provincial Offences Act administration, including courts and fine collection, to municipal governments. Since then, a number of issues have emerged with municipal governments having difficulty collecting outstanding fines. These fines are a primary source of funding for municipal court operations and were intended to augment municipal revenues when the province downloaded social services costs.

Bill 31, the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act, received Royal Assent on June 2, 2015. Bill 31 amends the Highway Traffic Act to promote road user safety and to improve the administration of justice. It requires fines levied by municipalities under the Provincial Offences Act to be paid, before an owner can renew the vehicle’s license plates. AMO applauds the passage of this legislation.

In May 2017, this authority came into effect. In addition, the Ontario government published a regulatory proposal to limit plate denial to fines in the last seven years and exempt plates where vehicles are jointly owned, or for corporate fleets.

In 2016, the Ministry of the Attorney General also increased the costs for the use of Justices of the Peace in adjudicating Provincial Offences Act matters. Municipalities were concerned by this move and were pleased that a portion has been offset by increased late fees for Provincial Offences Act fines. This had been a long-standing municipal ask.

More recently, the provincial government has taken steps to give municipalities more access to red light cameras and, in response to another longstanding municipal request, allow automated speed enforcement on municipal roads. The regulations governing the automated speed enforcement are in development.

Further streamlining procedures, which could reduce Justice of the Peace and municipal staff time spent on non-trial matters, would be helpful to municipalities in containing the costs of this program.

AMO encourages the Province to continue to implement reforms that will help to improve municipal administration of POA fines.