Provincial Offences Act

In some cases, a violation of the MVDA, the CPA, or certain other laws will result in a salesperson or dealer being formally charged with an offence and prosecuted under the Provincial Offences Act (POA).

Provincial Offences Act explained

The POA was first enacted 43 years ago and sets out much of the process for the prosecution and enforcement of provincial regulatory offences and municipal by-laws.

Before the POA was passed, the Law Commission of Canada estimated that there were 20,000 regulatory offences in each province plus an additional 20,000 federal offences, and these numbers did not include municipal by-law offences.

People who sell motor vehicles without being registered (typically referred to as curbsiders) or registered motor vehicle dealers and salespersons who violate provincial law can be subject to POA proceedings.

POA proceedings are similar to criminal court, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the offence. The defendant has the right to challenge the prosecution’s evidence and to have the assistance of a lawyer or paralegal in court. An independent fact-finder, called a justice of the peace, determines whether the defendant is guilty or not. Both the prosecution and the defendant can appeal a verdict or a sentence to a higher court in some circumstances.

Motor vehicle offences

Offences relating to the motor vehicle sales industry in Ontario are investigated by our investigators, who conduct interviews, gather evidence, lay charges, and testify in court against those who are believed to have violated the MVDA, the CPA or one of the other laws that OMVIC enforces. Prosecutions are conducted by our legal department, with proceedings taking place virtually and/or in-person in court houses throughout the province.

Both MVDA and CPA offences/convictions carry penalties, including a potential jail term of up to two years less a day and/or a fine of up to $50,000 for individuals, while corporations could face a maximum fine of $250,000, with each conviction/offence applying separately rather than per person or party. There is also a mandatory minimum fine of $5,000 in the case of a conviction for curbsiding, although fines for trading without registration are often higher than the minimum. An order for restitution/compensation to a complainant can also be imposed.

As well as a fine or jail time under the POA, dealers and salespersons could also have their conduct result in proceedings to revoke their registrations or to impose conditions on their registration. For example, a dealer alleged to be selling motor vehicles with rolled-back odometers or without properly disclosed accident repair histories may face both a trial in provincial offences court (with the possibility of jail time and/or a high fine) and also risk having their registration revoked via a notice of proposal.

We prefer an educational approach rather than immediately commencing enforcement action. Sometimes, a letter of caution can correct a dealer or salesperson’s conduct. However, this depends on the severity of the offence, past violations, the risk to the public, and our obligation to ensure a professional, fair, and honest motor vehicle sales industry in Ontario.

Approach to enforcement

How OMVIC can help

We offer free education for dealers and salespersons which can be tailored to meet your individual needs.

Learn more about the free education we offer

Review the resources we have to support dealers and salespersons

If you have questions related to compliance with the MVDA contact our dealer support team.