Trudeau government to introduce strongest impaired-driving legislation in the world

Update:

The Parliment Building’s Centre Block. The Trudeau government is introducing legislation which will fundamentally change the legal rights of driver’s of motor vehicles in Canada. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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Police officers will now be able to demand a breathalyzer sample from any driver they lawfully stop. A drug-impaired driver could face up to 10 years if convicted. New laws will also eliminate, or restrict, common defences used by drivers facing impaired-driving charges in court.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould introduced major changes to the country’s impaired driving laws Thursday, including provisions that will allow for mandatory roadside alcohol screening and new criminal offences for driving while high.
The legislation, introduced concurrently with the government’s cannabis legalization bill, will allow police to demand a driver provide an “oral fluid sample” — saliva — if they suspect a driver is drug impaired. A positive reading could lead to further testing, including a blood test, to determine whether a criminal offence has been committed.

Three new drug-related offences will be also be created for drivers who have consumed drugs within two hours of driving. A driver who is found to have two nanograms but less than five nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood could face a maximum fine of up to $1,000 (THC is the primary psychoactive found in cannabis).

A driver who has a blood level of more than five nanograms of THC, or has been drinking alcohol and smoking pot at the same time, will face a fine and the possibility of jail time. In more serious cases, a drug-impaired driver could face up to 10 years if convicted.

The government did not specify which drug testing device it would recommend police use for enforcement, but other jurisdictions use the DrugWipe system, which can detect traces of cannabis, opiates, cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamines (MDMA, ecstasy), benzodiazepines and ketamine.

‘New and stronger laws’

“Impaired driving is the leading cause of criminal death and injury in Canada,” Liberal MP Bill Blair, the government’s pot legalization czar, said Thursday in announcing the legislation. “In order to further protect Canadians, our government has committed to creating new and stronger laws to punish more severely those who drive while impaired by cannabis, alcohol and other drugs.”

Under the new legislation, any driver lawfully pulled over can be subjected to a breathlyzer test. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

“This bill, if its passes, will be one of strongest impaired-driving pieces of legislation in the world and I’m very proud of that,” Wilson-Raybould added.

However, by comparison, the European Union has a limit of just one nanogram of THC, and the United Kingdom has a limit of two nanograms. Australia and many U.S. states have zero tolerance, which effectively criminalizes driving with any detectable level of prohibited drugs in one’s body.

Some researchers, including those at the U.S.-based National Institute on Drug Abuse, have suggested there is simply no adequate way to measure THC levels, or to determine just how drugged a person is in a roadside test.

Those concerns were shared by Conservative leadership contender Erin O’Toole.

“Public safety officials at all levels of government have outstanding concerns about how to implement marijuana legislation and how to manage the costs associated with it. Of great concern, [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau has not addressed the fact that there are no proven, reliable tests yet available for determining impairment from marijuana use,” he said in a statement.

Mandatory alcohol breathalyzer testing

Police officers will also now be able to demand a breathalyzer sample from any driver they lawfully stop. Previously, a test could only be administered if an officer had “reasonable suspicion” that a driver was impaired by alcohol.

The government is making this change because its research shows many impaired drivers are able to escape detection at check stops. It is also aimed at reducing legal action over whether an officer actually had “reasonable suspicion” to ask a driver to blow on a device for a blood alcohol content reading.

The changes are part of the government’s efforts to “repeal and replace” all transportation-related offences in the Criminal Code, with “a modern, simplified and coherent structure,” according to literature provided by Health Canada.

“I will, as I do with all justice pieces of legislation, be tabling a charter statement. I am confident of constitutionality of mandatory roadside testing,” Wilson-Raybould said. “This is not a device or a tool that doesn’t exist in other places in the world. In fact, mandatory roadside testing in many countries has significantly reduced the number of deaths on highways. I think that is of paramount concern,” she said.

Loopholes to be closed

Under the new law, many more driver’s will be incarcerated for longer periods of time.

New laws will also eliminate, or restrict, common defences used by drivers facing impaired-driving charges in court.

Currently, drivers can avoid fines or a criminal conviction by claiming they consumed alcohol just before or during driving, and thus were not over the legal limit at the time they were driving because the alcohol was not yet fully absorbed. They can claim it was only later, at the time of testing, that they reached an illegal blood alcohol concentration.

The government said, in a background document distributed to reporters, that it would close that loophole by changing the timeframe for blowing “over 80” from “at the time of driving” to within two hours of driving.

Over 80 refers to a blood alcohol limit of 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitre of blood, or as it is commonly known, .08 blood alcohol concentration.

The justice minister also announced changes to the provincial interlock programs, a system of in-car alcohol breath screening devices that prevent a vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected.

Currently, a first-time offender has to wait a year before being admitted to an ignition interlock program in order to be able to drive again.

The proposed legislation would reduce the time offenders must wait before they can return to driving; there would be no wait for a first offence, three months for a second offence and six months for a subsequent offence.

Ontario set to amend Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act

Update:

Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn has been mandated by Premier Kathleen Wynn to consider reforms to workplace laws to reflect “the realities of the modern economy,” including the rise of insecure jobs.
Over two (2) years ago, Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn was tasked by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynn to consider reforms to workplace laws to reflect “the realities of the modern economy,” including the rise of insecure jobs. In July, 2016 two hundred recommendations were put forward; however, there have been no changes to date.

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Report could trigger the most sweeping reforms to employment and labour laws since the 1990s

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government is about to get advice that could lead to a significant shakeup of the laws governing work in Ontario.

The Changing Workplaces Review is examining just about everything related to labour law in this province, including sick pay, overtime, how workers can join unions and employers’ responsibilities to contract workers.

It could trigger the most significant reforms to the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act since Mike Harris was premier.

“The world of work that I went into as a young man is not the world of work that young people are going into today,” Labour Minister Kevin Flynn said in an interview with CBC News. “We need to make sure that the regulations are protecting the most vulnerable.”

The review is focusing on the new realities of the millennial workforce, including the spread of part-time and contract work. Noting that the province’s current employment laws were drawn up in the 1990s, Flynn said they “need to be updated for the world of 2017.”

Pearson protest

Kathleen Wynne government ordered a review of workplace law ‘to improve security and opportunity for those made vulnerable by the structural economic pressures and changes being experienced by Ontarians.’ (Toronto Airport Workers Council)

‘Once-in-a-generation opportunity’

The review has been in the works for nearly two years, since the government appointed a pair of special advisers to recommend changes to Ontario’s workplace laws.

Last July, the advisers laid out more than 200 options for reforms to protect vulnerable workers in precarious jobs. They include such ideas as requiring employers to give workers a minimum number of paid sick days, and to give workers advance notice of their shift schedules.

Their final recommendations are due to be handed to Flynn in the coming days.

The scope of the possible changes has the business community worried and the labour movement excited.

Ont Teachers Strikes 20150525

It will be up to Labour Minister Kevin Flynn to decide whether to adopt any of the recommendations on changing Ontario’s employment laws. ((The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn))

“It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” said Ontario Federation of Labour president Chris Buckley.

“When you look at the change in the employment landscape across the province, it’s well overdue,” Buckley said in an interview with CBC News. “Doing nothing is not an option.”

The recommendations “could fundamentally change the relationship between every employer and employee in the province,” said Karl Baldauf, vice-president of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “We’re challenging whether such sweeping reforms are necessary.”

Flynn promises that any changes will strike a balance.

“What we need to achieve in this is to make sure that precarious and vulnerable workers have the protections they should have, at the same time ensure that Ontario still has a very competitive economy,” Flynn said.

Here are some of the options that the government’s special advisers are considering: 

Sick pay, overtime, vacation pay, minimum wage

  • Making paid sick days mandatory.
  • Boosting the minimum required paid vacation to three weeks per year from the current two weeks.
  • Lowering the threshold at which overtime pay must kick in to 40 hours, down from the current 44 hours.
  • Abolishing the lower minimum wage for students under 18 and people who serve alcohol.
  • Requiring employers to pay their part-time workers the same as full-time workers doing similar jobs.

retail cashier cash register

The Wynne government’s advisers are considering whether employers should be forced to give workers advance notice of their schedules. (Simon Dawson/Bloomberg)

Casual and contract workers 

  • Forcing employers to post employees’ schedules in advance.
  • Compensating workers for last-minute schedule changes.
  • Limiting the proportion of an employer’s workforce that can be from temp agencies.

Unionizing

  • Banning or limiting the use of replacement workers during a strike.
  • Making it easier for the employees of franchises to form unions.
  • Allowing domestic workers employed in private homes to form unions.

Employment Standards Act exemptions

Under Ontario’s employment laws, some rules, including those governing overtime, don’t apply to certain types of jobs. The advisers are considering whether to lift any of these exemptions that currently apply to managers, janitors, IT professionals and residential care workers. They’re also considering whether interns and trainees should be covered by the Employment Standards Act.

 

Ontario driver’s to have their licence plates denied due to unpaid tickets over last 7 years

Update:

In response to Municipalities demands, the Wynn government will deny driver’s their right to renew their plates for outstanding, unpaid fines that have arisen in the last seven (7) years associated with red-light camera fines, parking ticket fines and now that will be expanded to driving based fines like speeding or careless driving. photo by fightyourtickets.ca.

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TORONTO—Speeding scofflaws in Ontario will soon be feeling extra pressure to pay outstanding fines, as the province gives municipalities the power to deny them licence plates.

Under changes the Liberal government is set to enact in May, people who have not paid fines for driving-based offences, such as speeding and careless driving, won’t be able to get or renew their plates.

The current plate denial regime only applies to vehicle-based offences, such as parking tickets and red-light camera fines.

Municipalities in the province are owed a collective $1.4 billion in unpaid fines for provincial offences, including those under the Highway Traffic Act. The Association of Municipalities of Ontario has been asking the government for more than a decade for more tools to collect that money.

Some of those fines date back 50 years and couldn’t be feasibly collected, so the government is making the policy retroactive seven years.

About one-third of the defaulted fines are from the past seven years. Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca acknowledged that even with the changes, municipalities won’t be able to collect all of the approximately $500 million, but it sends a strong message to people with outstanding fines.

“If they’ve managed to navigate the system to their benefit up until this point in time, it’s that much harder now for them to do it,” he said. “With any system that government puts in place there will always be those who will find creative ways to avoid playing by the rules, I suppose, but this is another opportunity for us to be able to get those fines collected and make sure people get a clear message that they can’t continue to act in this way.”

Municipalities are hoping to collect as much money as possible from outstanding highway traffic fines not paid over the last seven years. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Municipalities had been hoping the change would apply farther back than seven years, but are now just anxious to collect more of the outstanding fines, said Lynn Dollin, president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

“If those fines aren’t paid, it’s you and I covering those administration costs out of our property taxes, so we want to make sure that we’re getting the full bang for the buck and everything that we’re entitled to is coming to us,” she said.

People with unpaid speeding tickets are already subject to licence suspension, but plate denial will be an added motivator to pay those fines, said Del Duca.

“A person might be theoretically out there driving with an expired or suspended licence, therefore they’re not going forward to get it renewed, but you have the visual sticker on your licence plate, you have all that stuff that is easier for law enforcement to recognize at a glance,” he said.

The change is one of the last to be enacted under the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act that passed in 2015. The legislation also increased fines for distracted driving and “dooring” cyclists and introduced new penalties for drug-impaired driving. The regulation — which would not apply to jointly owned vehicles or those registered to a company — is posted for a mandatory public comment period, which ends Monday.

 

Ontario Reducing the Cost of Borrowing for Payday Loans

Update:

Australia’s Project Wickenby has collected more than $600 million from cheats using tax havens since 2006. The U.K. has recouped more than £2 billion ($3.5 billion) from offshore tax evasion since 2010. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Ontario is lowering the maximum total cost of borrowing for a payday loan from $21 to $18 per $100 borrowed as of January 1, 2017. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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Ontario is lowering the maximum total cost of borrowing for a payday loan from $21 to $18 per $100 borrowed as of January 1, 2017.

Payday loans are a commonly used financial service in Ontario, and this change will ensure consumers are better protected and able to benefit from lower costs for each loan.

Ontario has also introduced legislation to strengthen protections for consumers who use financial services such as payday loans, instalment loans, rent-to-own services and cheque-cashing services, as well as for consumers who have debts in collection.

If passed, the Putting Consumers First Act, would increase protections for consumers in several new ways, including:

  • A grace period for repayment for consumers using rent-to-own services
  • An extended repayment period option for consumers who are repeat payday loan borrowers
  • Establishing standards or factors that payday lenders must take into account when determining a borrower’s ability to repay
  • Restrictions on high-frequency borrowing
  • Adding and improving compliance and enforcement powers to address unlicensed lenders and loan brokers

Strengthening consumer protection is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

Quick Facts:

  • Alternative financial services are any financial service offered by a party other than a bank or a credit union.
  • There are over 800 licensed payday lenders and loan brokers in Ontario.
  • The majority of calls and inquiries to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services are about debt collection.

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Ontario amends laws for Tow Truck Services and Storage Services effective Jan.1/17

Update:

Bill 15, Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act will force approximately 1,200 tow truck businesses and 3,000 tow truck drivers in Ontario to change their practices beginning on Jan.1/17. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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A parking enforcement officer speaking to a tow truck operator, while he is putting a car on the lift. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Ministry of Government and Consumer Services

Ontario is reminding consumers that, as of January 1, 2017, new requirements are in place for tow truck or vehicle storage services designed to increase transparency and strengthen consumer protection.

The new changes will ensure tow and storage providers:

  • Have permission from the consumer or someone acting on their behalf before towing or storing a vehicle
  • Publicly disclose rates and other information such as the provider’s name and telephone number on tow trucks as well as in places of business
  • Accept credit card payments from consumers (and not insist on cash only)
  • Notify consumers where their vehicle will be towed
  • Allow consumers to access their towed vehicles to remove personal property at no charge between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on all business days
  • Give consumers an itemized invoice listing the services provided and costs before receiving payment
  • Disclose if they are getting a financial incentive for towing a vehicle to a particular vehicle storage facility or repair shop.

Protecting consumers is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

Ontario is increasing transparency for drivers using towing and vehicle storage services. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Quick Facts:

  • There are approximately 1,200 tow truck businesses, with 3,000 tow truck drivers in Ontario.
  • Sixteen Ontario municipalities currently have by-laws that license towing businesses.
  • The new rules are being brought forward as a result of changes made by Bill 15, Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act.
  • The province is also taking action to improve the safety of tow trucks and their operators by including tow trucks in the province’s existing Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration system as of January 1, 2017. This change will improve road safety through government monitoring and enforcement measures.

Additional Resources: