On March 14-15, the Ontario Court of Appeal will hear three appeals challenging the mandatory victim surcharge.
Every person who is convicted of a criminal offence in Canada is required to pay a “victim surcharge”, regardless of whether or not they can afford to pay the fine. This mandatory fine can be very difficult for people living in poverty to pay. Failure to pay the fine can have very serious consequences, including jail. People with higher incomes do not face the same hardships.
Social assistance rates in Ontario are very low and, as a result, social assistance recipients are very harshly affected by the victim surcharge.
The Income Security Advocacy Centre, along with the Criminal Lawyers Association and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, have been allowed to intervene in the appeals. We will argue that the mandatory victim surcharge is unconstitutional because of its unequal impacts on people living in poverty, including historically disadvantaged groups such as women (particularly single mothers), persons with disabilities, racialized communities and Indigenous persons.
To read our legal arguments, click here – look for the Word and PDF files on our webpage about this case.
The hearing will start each day at 10 am in Courtroom 10 at 130 Queen Street West (Osgoode Hall), Toronto. Please be aware that anyone who wants to enter the court to watch the hearing will need to go through security.