Toronto – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is expressing grave concern over the Ontario government’s new ability to download the most serious non-criminal provincial offences, known as Part III offences, to the municipalities.
The potential shift was buried deep in Bill 177, the Stronger, Fairer Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2017, which received Royal Assent last December. The section (Schedule 35) allows the province to move the prosecution of offences such as careless driving, hit-and-runs, sex offender registry violations and serious motor vehicle collisions, including tractor trailer rollovers, to municipalities.
In his letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne, Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU, said he was “deeply concerned” about the new legislation.
“These offences often involve fatalities, and penalties can include jail time,” Thomas wrote. “Our members prosecute any provincial offences that are serious enough that the defendant is summoned to court. These prosecutions need to be directly carried out by the Ministry of the Attorney General.”
Municipalities currently prosecute bylaw offences, parking tickets and minor infractions. Thomas underscored that Part III offences are completely different, since they are matters of justice and public safety.
“No other provincial or territorial jurisdiction allows municipalities to prosecute Part III offences,” he said. “They’re simply too serious to be lumped in with parking tickets. The government is compromising justice in Ontario, just to save a few bucks.
“But it’s not too late to reverse course on this poorly thought out and potentially hazardous measure, because this section of Bill 177 has yet to be proclaimed,” Thomas continued.
“So I say to Premier Wynne and Attorney General Naqvi: don’t proclaim it. Keep accountability for justice and public safety where it belongs – at the Ministry of the Attorney General.”
For more information: Tim Elphick, chair, Ministry Employee Relations Committee, firstname.lastname@example.org