Outstanding fines problem getting worse, auditor general says

James
James McLeod
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There’s a whole lot of money in traffic fines that the provincial government will just never collect, auditor general Terry Paddon reported Thursday.
There are 142 accounts on the government’s books which owe more than $20,000, and in total, the government is owed more than $33 million.

Auditor general Terry Paddon says the government is owed more than $33 million in traffic fines, and 1.5 million of that can’t be recovered. — Telegram file photo

According to Paddon, the problems with outstanding fines are only getting worse.

Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons, who has been vocal on this issue, said it’s staggering to see the numbers in black and white in the report.

According to Paddon, $1.5 million likely cannot be recovered because of unidentifiable or incomplete information in the government’s files.

“Those are staggering numbers,” Parsons said.

He pointed out that this isn’t the first time an auditor general has looked at fines.

Back in 2009, then-auditor general John Noseworthy wrote a similar report with a lot of similar findings.

“A lot of these things that the previous AG identified and recommended have still not been done,” Parsons said.

“Every time I’ve asked a question on it to successive ministers, they basically do the equivalent of throwing their arms up in the air and saying, ‘I don’t know what to do.’”

Paddon suggested that maybe fines could be tied to hunting licences, MCP cards, birth certificates and othe government services. If you don’t pay up, you aren’t able to get your moose licence, for example.

But in the Department of Justice response to the report, it said that would be a bureaucratic nightmare.

“Feedback from other Departments indicates, however, that such intercepts would likely be a manual process that would place an unreasonable administrative burden on staff. Automation of such processes to alleviate the burden would involve significant changes to systems, legislative amendments, and undetermined costs that do not appear to support the business case for introducing such a program.”

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Department of Justice

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Recent comments

  • Me
    January 24, 2014 - 21:50

    Some people need pressure. No pay.... no licence, no certificate, no registration etc. Sounds good to me. Could somebody change the challenge used to post comments. They are terrible.

  • Mona
    January 24, 2014 - 20:51

    Never let these fines reach these staggering levels in the first place. Place a maximum on the fines of $500 or $1000 and if that is not paid on time the person gets held in the lockup until it is paid. Do you honestly think these people who are delinquent in paying fines, driving with suspended licenses, and not registering their vehicles really care about hunting without a moose license?

  • david
    January 24, 2014 - 16:57

    Wow! I'm pretty sure I posted an estimate of the total value of outstanding fines very close to that awhile back.....so I got that going for me. But on the other hand, I live in a place where driving on the roads with all these lunatics is literally risking my life, and the government here irresponsibly lets me face that risk, and then out of complete gross negligence does not provide me the access to the health care I might need, and to which I am entitled by law......hooray for Newfoundland!

  • Steve
    January 24, 2014 - 13:34

    I would take it a step further. Turn of water, electricity…any service these people use. And when that doesn’t work….In the words of Matt Damon in Oceans 11, ‘’Go After the livelihood and you and everyone you’ve ever known’’.

  • Amanda
    January 24, 2014 - 12:41

    Of course the problem is getting worse! Every other day you turn on the news to see another driver caught with 30k+ in unpaid fines. If they didn't pay, why should I?

  • Steven
    January 24, 2014 - 07:27

    I just don't get this. There should be a threshold of some sort that if an individual passes a point in either debt or time they should be locked up. Period. The problem is not the inability to collect fines, the problem is the perception that nothing will happen to you if you don't pay them, so who cares?