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Mandatory payments for minor offences unconstitutional, top court rules

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada says a law that makes people convicted of crimse pay surcharges to helps victims is unconstitutional.

In a 7-2 decision delivered this morning in Ottawa, the Supreme Court found the mandatory victim surcharge amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

The court says the surcharge creates a crushing financial burden on poor people and places them under constant threat of being arrested and jailed if they do not pay.

Judges have been forced to impose a one-size-fits all punishment that does not take into account the individual’s ability to pay, the court says. 

Stephen Harper’s Conservative government made the charges mandatory in 2013.

The decision means no victim surcharges can be imposed in any conviction, starting immediately.

  

The Canadian Press