Government says it’s easing pressure on Alberta’s justice system

Above L-R: Assistant Commissioner Marlin Degrand, Minister Kathleen Ganley, and Chris Hay. – GOA Photo

by Morinville News Staff

The Government of Alberta says new measures starting May 1 will give police officers and court staff more time to deal with serious and violent offences.

An Act to Modernize Enforcement of Provincial Offences eliminates the use of warrants to enforce tickets and overdue fines for minor, non-traffic-related infractions, including failing to shovel a sidewalk or not paying a transit fare.

The change means overdue fines and minor offenses no longer carry the potential of jail time. Civil measures will be used instead, including restricting motor vehicle registration services.

The government says there are 200,000 outstanding warrants in Alberta – 45 per cent of which are for minor provincial and municipal bylaw infractions. It is a situation that has lead to about 9,000 hours of staff time every year processing minor offence warrants.

“The benefit of these new measures is that police, court staff, judges and others in the justice system will no longer have to spend thousands of hours each year processing warrants issued for minor offences,” Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General said in a release Monday. “We know their time is better spent focusing on more serious and violent matters.”

Alberta RCMP Assistant Commissioner Marlin Degrand said the legislation changes made by this legislation would be welcomed. “This will translate to more time spent by our employees focusing on front-line policing in Alberta,” Marlin said.

Chris Hay, executive director of the John Howard Society of Alberta, said the new measures carry another benefit.

“These new measures coming into effect on May 1 will help break a cycle of poverty and incarceration in Alberta,” Hay said. “At the John Howard Society, we see many people who are caught up in this cycle and often their stories started with unpaid fines and other minor administration of justice issues. We truly feel this will enhance community safety, improve lives, and save taxpayers money.”

The new legislation also allows police and peace officers to electronically file tickets with the court, rather than spending time filling out paperwork.

The government believes this will allow law enforcement officers to spend more time on the streets.

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