Easing Pressure on Alberta’s Justice System

Easing Pressure on Alberta’s Justice System

New measures taking effect May 1 will give police officers and court staff more time to deal with serious and violent offences.

L-R: Assistant Commissioner Marlin Degrand, Minister Kathleen Ganley and Chris Hay

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 like failing to shovel a sidewalk or not paying a transit fare.

This means people with overdue fines for these types of minor offences will no longer risk jail time. Instead, they will be held accountable through civil measures like restricting motor vehicle registration services.

“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. We know their time is better spent focusing on more serious and violent matters.”

Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

“The changes made by this legislation will be very welcome. This will translate to more time spent by our employees focusing on front-line policing in Alberta.”

Marlin Degrand, Assistant Commissioner, Alberta RCMP

The issuing, managing and executing of warrants for minor infractions is a costly, labour-intensive process that is not effective in holding offenders to account, ensuring compliance with the law or reducing repeat infractions.

“These new measures coming into effect on May 1 will help break a cycle of poverty and incarceration in Alberta. 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.”

Chris Hay, executive director, John Howard Society of Alberta

The legislation also includes an eTicketing initiative, which will allow police and peace officers to electronically file tickets with the court, rather than spending time filling out paperwork.

Electronic filing will create efficiencies and reduce errors – but most of all, it will allow law enforcement officers to spend more time on the streets, protecting Albertans and keeping communities safe.

Key facts

  • There are approximately 200,000 outstanding warrants in Alberta.
  • About 45 per cent of the outstanding warrants are for minor provincial and municipal bylaw infractions.
  • Court staff spend nearly 9,000 hours every year processing warrants for minor offences.