Alberta is one of ten Canadian provinces now collecting part of the money amassed from the court's fine system. Alberta collects a 15 percent surcharge on all provincial offense fines and this includes traffic violations.
Collected by the courts under the Criminal Code of Canada, the one-time payment compensates a victim for emotional or physical injuries and aids in the victim's rehabilitation. Monetary sums awarded to victims vary according to terms set by the criminal code and compensation ranges from $155 to $110,000. The surcharge from fines is distributed by the Minister of Justice to the financial benefits program, grants and individual program service facilities in police departments.
"The program funds are dispersed at the discretion of an independent appeal board," said Karen Sigurdson, public affairs officer for the Ministry of Justice.
Trucker Dave Marson, Canadian representative for OOIDA, says truckers should be aware of the law which has been in effect since Aug. 1, 1997. "For instance, a trucker would get a fine of $248 for interfering with transportation facilities," he said, "and another 15 percent above that would go to victim's programs."
Andy Mikleson, attorney for Victims of Violent Crime told Land Line, "Victims file through one of the 85 special units assigned by police departments. The program is a way to secure help for people who might otherwise not be able to recover from physical or mental injury and for families that have had a provider taken away."
Saskatchewan radio host Jerry Bellikka, who hears plenty of gripes on his show about the program, offered a perspective. "It's a tax on the stupid," he said, "You don't have to pay it if you don't break the law."
"Truckers aren't stupid and they're not criminals," says Marson, "but traffic violations are treated just like a crime. So drivers entering Canada need to be aware that there is a percentage above fines being collected in ten Canadian jurisdictions, some as flat fees and in others as percentages above the fine."
Alberta's Victims of Violent Crime Act expires November of 2002 unless amended or repassed. LL
- Donna Carlson