Province has new power to collect outstanding fines, but officials refuse to say if they’ll use it

Originally Published by CBC News, April 10, 2017

By Jody Porter

Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources won’t say if she’s concerned about the millions of dollars of outstanding fish and wildlife fines in the province, but conservation and hunting lobby groups are.

Unpaid fines issued under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act and the Ontario Fishery Regulations totaled $3.5 million at the end of 2016, the latest figures available from the Ministry of Natural Resources.

The fines are for such things as unsafe hunting practices or over-fishing. Some of the fines have been outstanding since 1997.

New legislation would allow Ontario to refuse fishing and hunting licences to people with outstanding fines, but it’s not clear if the province will use that power.

“Natural resource convictions and fines are strong deterrents and remind people of the importance of protecting our natural environment,” a ministry spokesperson said in a statement.

Kathryn McGarry, Ontario’s minister of natural resources and forestry, declined an interview request from CBC News.

Greg Farrant, the manager of government affairs and policy with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, is urging the province to step up enforcement.

“These folks who are subject to these fines have gone through the court process, they’ve been convicted and it’s incumbent upon the government to do everything they can

[to collect] because the fines should be going back into fish and wildlife resources,” Farrant told CBC News.

Fines contribute to a special purpose fund which, along with licence fees, pays about two-thirds of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s budget for habitat conservation and wildlife management efforts, Farrant said.

To read more visit CBC News. Photo by Canadian Press.