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Ombudsman to investigate communication of driver’s licence suspensions and reinstatements

Ombudsman to investigate communication of driver’s licence suspensions and reinstatements

Date: 2017-05-24

TORONTO (May 24, 2017) – Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé today announced an investigation into how the province communicates licence suspensions and reinstatements to drivers who were suspended for unpaid fines, in the wake of several complaints by drivers – some of whom had no idea their licences were invalid. 

The Ministry of Transportation has been notified that the investigation will look at the adequacy and effectiveness of its administrative processes for notifying and communicating with drivers about licence suspensions and reinstatements.  

“We have heard from drivers who went for years without knowing their licences were suspended,” Mr. Dubé said. “When they finally found out, it was through their insurance company or police, not the Ministry – which then treated them as brand-new drivers, requiring them to go through the graduated licencing program to have their licences reinstated.” 

The Ombudsman’s office has worked with the Ministry informally in recent years to suggest improvements to its suspension and reinstatement fee notification letters, but complaints continue, indicating an underlying systemic problem, Mr. Dubé said, noting some recent cases have also been the subject of news reports. 

Among the potentially serious repercussions is that drivers who are unknowingly suspended are also not covered by insurance if they are in an accident, which could be financially catastrophic for them and for members of the public who may be exposed to risk of harm, the Ombudsman noted. 

The investigation will look at how the Ministry monitors and communicates with drivers whose licences are cancelled or suspended, including how it co-ordinates with ServiceOntario. 

The Ombudsman’s office helps hundreds of Ontarians every year with a wide range of driver licensing issues, including suspensions for medical, criminal or other reasons; however, this investigation is focused only on suspensions resulting from unpaid fines. (The Ministry sends about 130,000 suspension notices each year to drivers who have failed to pay traffic fines.) 

Anyone who has experienced a similar situation or who has information relevant to this investigation is asked to contact the Ombudsman’s office, through the confidential complaint form at www.ombudsman.on.ca, or by phone at 1-800-263-1830.  

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For more information, contact: Linda Williamson, Director of Communications, 416-586-3426, lwilliamson@ombudsman.on.ca