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CCLA to Ontario: Clarify how people can fight fines

April 24, 2020.

Two days ago we wrote to the Ontario government about the fact that people are getting tickets under the Provincial Offences Act (POA) but the process for fighting those tickets is not clear. Usually you have to go to a court office within 15 days to say you want to fight a ticket, but most court offices are currently closed. We have followed up today to ask that the government make it clear that people don’t have to take any steps related to these tickets until the emergency declaration is over. We want them to amend a Regulation to make it clear.


April 24, 2020

Hon. Doug Downey
Attorney General of Ontario
11th Floor, 720 Bay Street
Toronto, ON M7A 2S9

Hon. Sylvia Jones
Solicitor General of Ontario
25 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, ON M7A 1Y6

Hon. Steve Clark
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
17th Floor, 777 Bay Street
Toronto, ON M5G 2E5

RE: NEW Emerg Mngt Order Needed for POA Due Process

Dear Ministers,

I am writing to follow up on my letter sent to your attention yesterday, April 22, 2020.

To be clear, a new clause ought to be added to O. Reg. 73/20, because that clause is unknown to the public and to many municipalities, which are telling people they must resolve their tickets within 15 days of issuance, as if O. Reg. 73/20 were not in effect. In other words, people are wrongfully paying tickets now when in fact there is no deadline for resolution within 15 days, because they should have the opportunity in the future to dispute the ticket, if they so choose. To resolve the non-compliance and confusion, a new clause is needed.

Thank you for your response to our letter communicated through a media enquiry from the Queen’s Park Press Gallery. In that response, you note that there already is a regulation in place suspending limitation periods and that this applies to offences under the Provincial Offences Act. You also point to information on the Ontario Court of Justice website.

Unfortunately, your explanation is directly contradicted by the actual notices of offence that people are receiving and, in some cases, by the websites of municipalities that people are likely to visit to get more information. This is because your interpretation of the regulation is not self-evident on the face of the order. As such, we are asking that you clarify this by way of regulation and instruct municipalities to provide individuals receiving tickets with notice of their options. A new clause to clarify this could be added to O. Reg. 73/20 stating:

    2(a) For greater certainty, the time to dispute a charge under the Provincial Offences Act does not run for the duration of the emergency.

In addition, a notice to the same effect should be provided to everyone receiving a notice of offence under the POA.

Sincerely,

Cara Sig

Cara Zwibel
Fundamental Freedoms Program Director

MEDIA:

For further comments, please contact us at media@ccla.org
 

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