In an attempt to combat the number of traffic violations, lawmakers have proposed the AMP system in the province of Ontario. This was recommended by the ombud of Toronto way back in 2012. The application of Administrative monetary penalty or the AMP aims to replace the traditional traffic courts.
However, the proposed move has been opposed by paralegals and lawyers. Although the system is not enforced yet, there are some serious concerns that are voiced by lawyers as well as the Law Society of Upper Canada.
The reasons behind their opposition include:
- It removes the individual’s right to contest the allegation
- Limitation of access to justice
- Denial of Charter of Rights
- Oversimplifying the legal process
- Possibilities of abuse
- Lack of impartial screenings
- Concerns for public safety
On the other hand, the ministry of the Attorney General is of the opinion that the transfer of provincial offences from the court to the administrative process is necessary.
It is because of the following reasons:
- 85% of the POA or Provincial Offences Act comes from the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act or the Highway Traffic Act
- Up to 1.6 million POA charges were recorded in Ontario in 2014 alone
- About 2.5 million parking tickets are issued annually in Toronto
- The total cost of police making court appearance due to traffic-related matters amounts to more than $5.5 million annually
Is this move a good or a bad thing?
According to Toronto’s communications and marketing consultant, Kazia Fraser, the introduction of online AMP has brought improvements in some areas. But it is not without challenges.
She speaks from experience of monitoring a number of GTA municipalities, such as Vaughan, that already has the AMP system in place.
The benefits of the AMP system include:
- Expedited hearing of cases
- Streamlined hearings without the requirement of prosecutors
- Defendants stick to a definite hearing date which saves time on both ends
- Saving money by using the services of administrative hearing officers
On the flip side, the challenges include:
- The need to hire additional staff including screening and hearing officers
- Managing of higher fees in the province
Despite the benefits and the challenges that the new proposed system brings, it is believed that the online AMP system will be enforced in Toronto as well as other municipalities.
But if Vaughan and its success with the system is any indication, it looks like online AMP will be a success. Whether or not bigger cities can implement the AMP without the complete assistance of the current POA is up for debate.