Panhandling, the act of begging in the street, in illegal in Ontario if it is deemed aggressive in nature.
It is not defined as criminal offence in the Criminal Code of Canada
t is a Provincial Offence, which carries less serious consequences to criminal offences defined in the criminal code.
Conviction of a Provincial Statute will not appear on the accused’s Criminal Record.
Provincial offences are considered less serious and regulatory, but can still carry serious consequences for the accused upon conviction, such as a suspended drivers license.
Under Mike Harris and the Progressive Conservative Party, Ontario passed the Safe Street Act in 1999 making aggressive solicitation illegal.
According to this legislation, aggressive panhandlers can be ticketed, held criminally responsible for being overly aggressive and, if convicted, can face a fine of less than $500 on first conviction.
On each following conviction a fine of no more than $1,000 and imprisonment, or both, can be enforced.
Many people are opposed to this legislation, viewing it as a violation of the rights of homeless people, as guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In 2001 the legislation was unsuccessfully challenged on this basis. It was again unsuccessfully challenged on this basis in 2007 at the Ontario Court of Appeal. It was upheld. Following which the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the appeal.
It has also been criticized for being to vague, as it defines "aggressive manner" as “a manner that is likely to cause a reasonable person to be concerned for his or her safety or security." This can be widely too applied to any number of actions.
“solicit” means to request, in person, the immediate provision of money or another thing of value, regardless of whether consideration is offered or provided in return, using the spoken, written or printed word, a gesture or other means. 1999, c. 8, s. 1.
“public transit vehicle” means a vehicle operated by, for or on behalf of the Government of Ontario, a municipality in Ontario or a transit commission or authority in Ontario, as part of a regular passenger transportation service; (“véhicule de transport en commun”)
“roadway” has the same meaning as in the Highway Traffic Act; (“chaussée”)
“vehicle” includes automobile, motorcycle, van, truck, trailer, bus, mobile home, traction engine, farm tractor, road-building machine, bicycle, motor-assisted bicycle, motorized snow vehicle, streetcar and any other vehicle drawn, propelled or driven by any kind of power, including muscular power. (“véhicule”) 1999, c. 8, s. 3 (1); 2002, c. 17, Sched. F, Table.
(a) a place outdoors to which the public is ordinarily invited or permitted access and, for greater certainty, includes but is not limited to a sidewalk, street, parking lot, swimming pool, beach, conservation area, park and playground, and
(b) school grounds. 1999, c. 8, s. 4 (1).
Disposal of certain dangerous things prohibited
(2) No person shall dispose of any of the following things in an outdoor public place:
1. A used condom.
2. A new or used hypodermic needle or syringe.
3. Broken glass. 1999, c. 8, s. 4 (2).
(3) It is a defence to a charge under subsection (2) for the person who disposed of the condom, the needle or syringe or the broken glass to establish that he or she took reasonable precautions to dispose of it in a manner that would not endanger the health or safety of any person. 1999, c. 8, s. 4 (3).
5. (1) Every person who contravenes section 2, 3 or 4 is guilty of an offence and is liable,
(a) on a first conviction, to a fine of not more than $500; and
(b) on each subsequent conviction, to a fine of not more than $1,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both. 1999, c. 8, s. 5 (1).
(2) For the purpose of determining the penalty to which a person is liable under subsection (1),
(a) a conviction of the person of a contravention of section 2 is a subsequent conviction only if the person has previously been convicted of a contravention of section 2 or 3;
(b) a conviction of the person of a contravention of section 3 is a subsequent conviction only if the person has previously been convicted of a contravention of section 2 or 3; and
(c) a conviction of the person of a contravention of section 4 is a subsequent conviction only if the person has previously been convicted of a contravention of section 4. 1999, c. 8, s. 5 (2).
Arrest without warrant
6. A police officer who believes on reasonable and probable grounds that a person has contravened section 2, 3 or 4 may arrest the person without warrant if,
(a) before the alleged contravention of section 2, 3 or 4, the police officer directed the person not to engage in activity that contravenes that section; or
(b) the police officer believes on reasonable and probable grounds that it is necessary to arrest the person without warrant in order to establish the identity of the person or to prevent the person from continuing or repeating the contravention. 1999, c. 8, s. 6.
7. Omitted (amends or repeals other Acts). 1999, c. 8, s. 7.
8. Omitted (provides for coming into force of provisions of this Act). 1999, c. 8, s. 8.
9. Omitted (enacts short title of this Act). 1999, c. 8, s. 9.
If you have been charged with aggressive panhandling or any other criminal offence contact Kostman and Pyzer, Barristers for your free consultation!