Toronto residents wrongfully convicted of provincial offences still on the hook

Paralegals say the delays are resulting in suspended licences and harassment from collection agents

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For general contractor Junhao Pu, being mobile is part of his job.

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But getting from jobsite to jobsite becomes insurmountable when you can’t drive, and since discovering his licence was summarily — and wrongfully — suspended by the City of Toronto, he’s relying on family and coworkers to drive him to and from work.

“I haven’t driven for three months,” he told the Sun.  “It’s very tough.”

Pu is one of thousands caught in a bureaucratic nightmare at Toronto City Hall, where trial requests for provincial offence tickets are so backed up due to the pandemic that drivers are finding themselves summarily convicted long before their not-guilty pleas are processed, unaware their licences are being suspended for unpaid fines.

In March, Pu was pulled over for speeding on Midland Ave. near Steeles Ave., and hired John Egsgard at All Traffic Tickets to fight the charge.

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It wasn’t until August, when Pu was trying to register a new car, that he discovered his licence was suspended. However, Egsgard — a paralegal at the firm founded by his brother and former York cop Christian Egsgard — said some of his clients didn’t find out until they were pulled over by police.

“Toronto is so behind in their work, I’ve had some clerks even tell me in writing they’re working on reopenings from last year,” he said.

“When I explain it to managers, of which there are layers of, you just end up with corporate bulls***. They won’t help.”

Paralegals sounded the alarm in May, describing to the Sun  scores of clients summarily convicted without ever seeing a courtroom.

The Egsgards’ days are now consumed with getting their wrongfully convicted clients’ cases reopened, but that’s being compounded by delays in processing convictions.

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Christian blamed lazy and disinterested management, adding that other cities are coping with far less staff.

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“People are being suspended, they’re losing their jobs,” he said, as files of 12 clients seeking reopenings lay on his desk.

“They’re not communicating properly, they’re at least not stopping the fine so the guy doesn’t go under suspension.”

Adding insult to injury, clients are also being hounded by collection agencies — Pu said it took a week before Egsgard convinced them to cease their harassment.

An email to Egsgard last week from a supervisor confirmed the city’s south intake office is still reviewing applications from December 2020, blaming ‘very limited’ availability of justices of the peace.

A City of Toronto spokesperson maintains such errors are “extremely rare,” adding that “well-established processes” are in place to expedite resolutions, and pointed to new online tools launched in June for residents facing provincial charges.

bpassifiume@postmedia.com
On Twitter:   @bryanpassifiume

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