Canadian Underwriter

Ontario government increases maximum fines for individuals, corporations that start forest fires

July 11, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter

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The government of Ontario has announced increased maximum fines for individuals and corporations for starting forest fires.

If found responsible, individuals can now be fined up to $25,000 for starting a forest fire, Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry said in a press release on Friday. Fines for corporations can go up to $500,000. “These increased maximum fines will help deter human-started fires,” the ministry suggested in the release. “These updated fines will bring Ontario in line with other provincial jurisdictions,” the ministry reported, adding that the last time maximum forest fire-related fines were updated was in 1968.

Fire management in Ontario costs on average $130 million per year.

According to the natural resources and forestry ministry, approximately half of all forest fires are started by people, and can cause considerable risk to public safety, expensive property damage and have broader impact on communities and regional industry. Healthy, sustainably managed forests also play an important role in moderating impacts associated with climate change, the release said.

The Forest Fires Prevention Act only applies to the Fire Region identified in the act. This area excludes southern Ontario except for northern parts of Midhurst, Peterborough and Kemptville districts.

“We all have a role in preventing wildland fires, and with this change, we can ensure those who start the fires pay their fair share,” Kathryn McGarry, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, said in the release. “Our government is committed to protecting the people and resources of Ontario, and reducing the risk of human-cause forest fires.”

Forest fire seasons last from April 1 to October 31. Background information from the ministry said that to date in 2017, there have been 132 fires. Last year, there were 384 fires; the 10-year average is 404 fires.

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