This article initially appeared in French in the August 30, 2016 bulletin of the APECQ.
The total amount of the fine pursuant to a statement of offence includes the penalty itself, court costs and a “contribution”. The amount of the latter, which until October 20, 2015 was a fixed amount of $14, is now as much as 25% of the amount of the fine!
A brief history of contributions
In 2002, the Government added a fixed contribution of $10 for each statement of offence in penal matters. In 2012, that amount was increased to $14. The “contribution” was initially destined for victims of crimes.
On October 21, 2015 the method of determining the amount of the contribution radically changed: the amount is now variable, and determined according to the following criteria:
- $20 where the total amount of the fine is not more than $100;
- $40 where the total amount of the fine is more than $100 but does not exceed $500;
- 25% of the total amount of the fine where the latter exceeds $500.1
Moreover, the additional revenues generated, estimated at some $21 million, will now be allocated mainly to the consolidated revenue fund, the Government’s general account, rather than to victims of crimes.
The amount of court fees
On top of the amount of the actual penalty and this substantial “contribution” are the court costs provided for in the Tariff of court costs in penal matters, which include the following:
- where the fine requested is equal to or greater than $1,500 without exceeding $10,000, the amount corresponding to 25% of the fine;
- where the fine requested is greater than $10,000, the sum obtained by adding $2,500 to the amount corresponding to 1% of the part of the fine exceeding $10,000.2
Do the math!
By way of illustration, an employer who receives a statement of offence seeking the payment of a penalty of $2,000 will also have to pay court costs of $500 and a further amount of $500 as a “contribution”, bringing the total amount payable pursuant to the statement to $3,000.
Ultimately, the increase in the amount of the “contribution” is a further incentive for employers to respect their obligations in statutory penal matters (i.e. under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Act Respecting Labour Relations, Vocational Training and Workforce Management in the Construction Industry, etc.).
By way of example, the penalties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act currently vary from $1,632 to $326,349 for a legal person: court costs and the increased contribution will add from $816 to $84,750.74 to those amounts, which will therefore effectively vary from $2,448 to $411,099.74!
Upon receiving a statement of offence, you may thus want to contact your legal advisor to assess the advisability of contesting it.
1 Code of Penal Procedure, CQLR, c. C-25.1, s. 8.1
2 Tariff of court costs in penal matters, CQLR, c. C-25.1, r. 6, par. 7