Higher drunk driving fines, static minimum wage: These are the changes taking effect in Ontario in 2019

January 2, 2019
Article Source
Toronto Star

Fines for drunk driving are going up starting New Year’s Day while the minimum wage holds steady at $14 and politicians will once again be allowed to attend their fundraising events under Ontario law.

Other changes taking effect Jan. 1 under Premier Doug Ford's Progressive Conservative government include a tax credit for low-income families, higher political donation limits and new rules for collection agencies.

Impaired drivers with blood alcohol concentrations in the "warning range" between .05 per cent and .08 per cent will now face fines of $250 for a first offence, $350 for a second offence and $450 for third and subsequent offences.

The same penalties apply for failing a roadside sobriety test or violating "zero tolerance" rules for new and commercial drivers.

Police will also be able to issue $580 fines to drivers who refuse to take a drug or alcohol test, whose blood alcohol hits .08 per cent or who are determined to be impaired by an officer trained as a drug recognition evaluator.

While the government said in a statement these measures will "ensure Ontario’s roads are safe for everyone," Andrew Murrie, president of the lobby group Mothers Against Drunk Driving, told the Star that increasing fines isn't much of a deterrent.

He called on Ford's government to pass a law that vehicles be impounded for three days if drivers are caught with a blood-alcohol level in the warning range, as several other provinces do.

"That makes an incredible difference in driver behaviour," Murrie said. "People do not want to lose their car at roadside."

B.C., for example, saw drunk driving-related deaths halved and Saskatchewan has seen a 40-per-cent reduction, he added.

On minimum wage, Ford is keeping a campaign promise to hold it steady at $14, axing the previous Liberal government's plan for a $1 raise to $15.

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