The United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) has received an unexpected bonus from 2020 Ontario provincial offences revenue profits.

Due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UCPR had anticipated zero provincial offences profit for 2020, but there ended up being $295,085 in revenue that will be distributed among the eight municipalities. While unexpected, the amount is significantly lower than revenues received by the UCPR in previous years. The provincial offences profit decreased by 57 per cent in 2020 from 2019, when the amount was $686,550.

Provincial offences include those traffic fines, tobacco law violations, and other violations outlined in the Provincial Offences Act.

The UCPR normally distributes the profits from provincial offences revenue to each of the eight municipalities based on the property tax assessment value for each municipality.

The total provincial offences revenue for the UCPR in 2020 was $1,191,652.  In 2019, it was $2,024,642.  However, most of that revenue goes to the provincial government and to administrative costs. For example, in 2020, it cost $18,975 to pay the justices of the peace who preside over Provincial Offences Court, along with $35,110 for prosecutors. Payments collected by the UCPR for other courts and government ministries in 2020 totalled $214,905.

“Due to COVID, there was a significant decline,” said UCPR Chief Administrative Officer Stéphane Parisien, speaking at the March 24 UCPR council meeting.

Parisien explained that revenue and profits decreased because Provincial Offences Court did not sit for part of the year, along with the fact the UCPR building, and Provincial Offences Office were closed. From an enforcement perspective, Parisien said fewer tickets were issued because police were often busier with pandemic-related responsibilities and there was much less traffic on area roads.

Russell Township Mayor Pierre Leroux wanted to know if the 2021 UCPR budget also projects zero profit from provincial offences due to the continued pandemic. UCPR Treasurer Valérie Parisien confirmed the 2021 budget projects zero provincial offences profits to be distributed among the municipalities.

There were $9,160,834 in accounts receivable, or unpaid provincial offences owed to the UCPR in 2020.

“That’s a lot of money,” commented UCPR Warden Stéphane Sarrazin.