TORONTO — March 4, 2011- The Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) today released its Interim Report on Modernizing the Provincial Offences Act. It includes draft recommendations for major reforms that, if adopted, would significantly change the way in which millions of provincial offences, including parking offences, are dealt with in Ontario each year. Comments on the Interim Report are invited by April 29, 2011.

Over two million provincial charges are brought annually under statutes governing public welfare matters such as traffic, liquor, occupational health and safety, environmental protection, among others. Some charges are less serious while others are more serious with potentially significant sentences. Yet the Act is unduly complex for the large majority of minor offences and it makes little distinction among the vastly different types of charges before the court and offers little direction on how sentences are to be rendered in a principled manner.

To respond to these concerns, the LCO’s key draft recommendations include:

Moving all parking offences out of court to reserve judicial resources for more serious matters. Instead, municipalities would collect monetary penalties for parking infractions that could be disputed before a municipal hearings officer.

Simplifying the Provincial Offences Act and creating processes proportionate to the seriousness of the offence.

Providing clear sentencing principles to help the court render appropriate and consistent sentences that will promote compliance with regulatory standards.

Making simple, plain language information guides available to defendants.

The draft recommendations are designed to make the provincial offence system more accessible, fair, efficient and proportionate to the interests at stake. “The Ontario POA has not been the subject of review for over 30 years,” says Dr. Patricia Hughes, Executive Director of the LCO. “Our draft recommendations reinforce the Act’s original objectives while setting out a framework to modernize the system in the years to come.” 

Launched in September of 2007, the LCO operates independently of government to make recommendations that enhance access to justice and make laws more relevant and more efficient.

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Contact: Mohan Sharma, Head of Project
Tel: (416) 650-8406 or toll free: 1 (866) 950-8406
TTY: 1 (877) 650-8082    Fax:  (416) 650-8418         

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