Money to be had, but how to collect unpaid fines?
More than $25 million in unpaid provincial fines is owed to the City of Thunder Bay, but the province will have to put stronger collection tools in place before the city can collect, the chairman of the local police services board says.
Coun. Joe Virdiramo said the fines — which stem from offences under the Liquor Licence Act or Highway Traffic Act, or parking tickets, for example — are collected by Ontario municipalities and put toward municipal operations.
Virdiramo, who chairs the city’s inter-governmental liaison committee, said Thunder Bay representatives have spoken to the province about the matter, pushing for new legislation that would better facilitate the collection of unpaid fines. The Ontario Association of Police Services Boards (OAPSB) has lobbied for the same thing.
“We’re not hopeful,” Virdiramo said in an interview. “But we keep trying.”
A report released last year by OAPSB states that there is more than $1 billion in unpaid fines in Ontario.
Municipalities have had success with some of the tools at their disposal, such as collection agencies or adding unpaid fines to property taxes.
But in many cases, there is insufficient information about a defaulter to take such steps.
OAPSB notes that municipalities took over the job of collecting the fines between 1999 and 2002, and many didn’t possess the proper resources to do so. As a result, lack of information is a problem, which is spurred on by a lack of co-ordination in the government, said the OAPSB.
The OAPSB also said that there is little incentive for people to pay, and a simpler, flexible payment system is needed, too.
Virdiramo said some of the outstanding fines may have been issued 20 years ago.
Despite years of lobbying, the municipalities need stronger tools at their disposal if they’re ever going to collect unpaid fines.
“We don’t have luck in collecting a lot of them,” Virdiramo said.
“The municipalities . . . are trying to have government put in additional tools, such as extending denial of driver’s permits and vehicle plates.
“Those have not been finalized,” he said.