Despite proposed changes in the spring provincial budget, it’s business as usual for non-profits benefiting from volunteers working off their fines.
The fine option program, which allows residents convicted of traffic safety violations to volunteer their time instead of paying a fine, was set to be shut down on June 1.
But the change hasn’t taken effect, according to Friendship Inn Executive Director Sandra Stack.
“All systems go,” she said.
However, Stack added they’ve heard the program will end by Sept. 1.
A government spokesperson said in a statement the ministry is still re-designing the program to “improve effectiveness,” but didn’t provide a date on when changes will be made.
The spokesperson suggested more people paying their fines would improve traffic safety.
They said the move is expected to save the government about $250,000 a year in administrative costs and generate about $850,000 more in fine revenue.
However, ending the program could decimate the volunteer base for organizations like the Friendship Inn.
Stack said the fine option program provided 15,000 hours of free labour for them in 2016, saving the organization at least $150,000 in wages.
“It’s keeping people off warrants and out of the court system,” Stack said.
She also disputed the government’s allegation over hours not being completed.
The province’s statistics show only 45 per cent of hours were fulfilled in 2015-16.
“I’ve never seen anybody abuse the system,” Stack said.
“These volunteers put in hard work and grueling hours working off their fines.”
The ministry spokesperson did tell 650 CKOM part of the delay in changing the program was due to an attempt to adjust it, to allow low income earners to continue volunteering instead of paying their fines.