The range of offences that could be brought under Provincial Offences Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.33 (POA) procedure differs dramatically not only in subject-matter, but also in gravity and in the potential penalties upon conviction. With almost 20 years of combined legal experience, our team is well positioned to advise and defend in matters related to Provincial and Regulatory Law. If you or any one you know has been charged under a provincial or regulatory offence, contact us.
We recommend you contact an experienced professional if your matter deals with any of the following categories:
Motor Vehicle Regulation
The Highway Traffic Act (HTA) is probably one of the most well-known regulatory statues in Ontario. It regulates the conduct of drivers on Ontario roads providing for numerous offences including speeding, careless driving, failure to wear a safety belt, failure to follow the instructions on a road sign, and failure to carry one’s license while driving a motor vehicle. Penalty for offences under the HTA can be significant. For instance, motorists can incur a maximum fine of $10,000 or 6 months imprisonment for stunt driving, and a maximum fine of $50,000 if a wheel detaches from a commercial vehicle.
The Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act also provides an offence for failure to have insurance while operating a motor vehicle and carries a minimum fine of $5,000 on a first conviction, and $10,000 on a subsequent conviction.
Municipal by-laws also create various parking, “no stopping”, and certain other motor vehicle related offences that are enforced through the POA.
Occupational Health and Safety Regulation
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) imposes duties on both workers and employers with respect to equipment, material and protective devices to ensure safe work places. Workers must ensure that they are wearing the clothing and equipment specified by their employers, and must report any defects with such clothing or equipment. Workers must also report to their employer any contraventions of the Act of which they are aware. The duties imposed on employers include developing and implementing a health and safety program, and formulating a policy regarding workplace violence and harassment.
The OHSA provides for significant offences for a failure to comply with its provisions and are punishable with maximum penalties of $25,000 or 12 months imprisonment for persons, and a $500,000 maximum fine for corporations.
Environmental Protection Regulation
Some examples of provincial legislation create obligations to protect the environment with offences established for breaches of those statutes. The Environmental Protection Act (EPA), The Clean Water Act, 2006 (“CWA”), and The Pesticides Act (PA) are just a few examples.
The EPA regulates the actions of persons or companies in charge of pollutants, creating offences in areas such as spillage. The EPA also prohibits littering, imposing a fine up to $1,000 on a first time offence and up to $2,000 on a second time offence.
The CWA creates a number of obligations, such as a requirement that a person with authority under the CWA aware of a water drinking hazard provide notice to the Ministry of the Environment. It also attributes liability to a person for continuing to engage in an activity endangering a water supply.
The PA imposes obligations on individuals or companies who release pesticides into their environment outside of an ordinary course of events, such that injury is likely to occur to persons, animals or the environment.
Regulation of Controlled Substances
Provincial legislation also regulates the use of controlled substances, such as liquor and tobacco. The Liquor Licence Act (LLA) and the Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) are examples that affect numerous individuals and businesses in Ontario and they create offences for breaches of their provisions.
The LLA makes it a regulatory offence to be intoxicated in a public place or to carry an opened container of alcohol in a motor vehicle. Individuals must be licensed in order to sell alcohol. Persons who are convicted of a regulatory offence under the LLA can be subject to a maximum fine of $100,000, imprisonment for a year, or both. Corporations convicted under the LLA can be subject to a maximum fine of $250,000.
The SFOA makes it a regulatory offence to sell tobacco to persons under the age of 19, or to display tobacco products in a place where such products are sold. Corporations engaged in the manufacture, sale or distribution of tobacco products can be charged a maximum of $100,000 for contravening provisions under the statute.
General Public Order and Safety regulation
Numerous statutes regulate matters of public order and safety. The Trespass to Property Act creates an offence where a person enters premises to which entry is prohibited by the Act. The Family Law Act permits a court to make a restraining order against a person’s former spouse where that person has reason to fear for his or her safety.
Part VII of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997 creates several offences, such as violating a provision of a fire code. The Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 regulates, among other things, the production, processing and manufacturing of food for consumption and it establishes offences for contraventions of the Act. Under this statute, orders can be made to prevent or eliminate any food safety risk.
Christopher’s Law (Sex Offender Registry), 2000 imposes certain reporting requirements on a person convicted of a “sex offence” and where a person fails to comply with the Act, he or she is guilty of an offence punishable by a fine or imprisonment. The Safe Streets Act, 1999 creates offences for soliciting in certain public locations and disposing of dangerous things in an outdoor public place. A provision under this statute makes it an offence to solicit a person in a vehicle on a roadway.
The Consumer Protection Act, 2002 (CPA) prohibits representations to consumers that are false or misleading. It lists a number of prohibited representations, such as specifying that a certain repair is necessary when it is not, or that a price advantage exists when it does not. It also governs consumer transactions that take place over the internet. It imposes an obligation on suppliers to provide consumers with a written copy of any agreement they have entered into and also enables consumers to cancel an agreement made over the internet under prescribed circumstances.