The Modernization of the Provincial Offences Act
In December 2007, Kennth Jull, a legal practitioner with expertise in regulatory law, submitted a proposal to the LCO for a review of the POA with the objective of reforming certain aspects of the statute. With other projects already approved for study, the LCO was not able to consider undertaking the project until April 2009 when it was approved by the Board of Governors. The Board of Governors approved the Final Report in August 2011. The POA project has been headed by Mark Schofield, Ministry of the Attorney General LCO Counsel in Residence, 2009-2010, and Mohan Sharma, MAG LCO Counsel in Residence 2010-2011.
The POA project took as its starting point a refashioning of the statute to reflect the developments that have occurred since it was enacted 30 years ago, including the impact of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, changes to the Criminal Code, the considerable increase in fines for certain offences, the importance of new technologies and the official recognition of paralegals, among them. Yet the reason for the POA has not changed: to recognize the difference between regulatory and criminal offences. Similarly, the need for a relatively simple or accessible statute addressing procedure with regard to offences that affect many ordinary Ontarians remains a priority. In its recommendations, the LCO has attempted to return the POA to its roots in this latter respect, while making recommendations that recognize contemporary legal realities. In addition to specific recommendations for reform, we have also identified issues which could not be addressed in the LCO’s review, but which we believe merit further consideration for making the POA an even more effective document for today and the future.
The LCO appreciates the assistance it received from the Ad Hoc POA project Advisory Group. The LCO project advisory groups are not asked to speak for their organizations and the contents of this Report should not be ascribed to them.