Useful Information

Work options

Work options

Excerpt from a text published in the Porte ouverte magazine of Spring 2008, titled The Work Options Program is now 25 years old!

In January 1983, the National Assembly of Quebec were voting on a bill introducing the Work Options Program to the province of Quebec.

This program provides adult citizens unable to pay a ticket with the opportunity to work for a non-profit community organization. Work options are limited to deprived individuals who cannot pay, or whose financial situation is so that the payment could significantly impact the living conditions of the individual and their immediate family. 

In addition to covering the ticket fees (through work), the program humanizes the judiciary system, promotes accountability in the participants and bring to light citizen participation to the administration of justice. 

Work options are provided by ticket collectors solely once it has been recognized that the individual cannot pay the ticket, despite the different options provided by the Law: 30-day period of payment, additional extensions, deferred payments and seizure. The number of work hours is proportional to the amount of the ticket, to which accumulated fees are added. It is determined by an equivalence table established by the Law.

The process

The individual who agrees to work options must comply to certain conditions. They must first commit through a written statement to a number of unpaid work hours. Then, they must communicate with a reference community organization appointed by the Ministry of Public Safety to manage the Work Options Program. These non-profit organizations were first recruited by the Ministry of Public Safety for their outreach and expertise with the deprived population. Since their fields of expertise are varied (mental health, volunteering, social reintegration, mediation, cooperation, poverty, etc.), these organizations can efficiently intervene amongst the different clientele referred to them.

Their intervenors are in charge of establishing the nature and conditions of the work to be done. During the development of the action plan, they will have to consider the ability, skills and interests of the referred individuals, as well as the needs of the organization where the work will be accomplished. Once the action plan is established and the individual agrees to it, they must fulfill each requirement. Once the work is completed (it is in 65% of cases), the individual is granted a release judgment, which confirms that the ticket was paid. Please note that, at any moment, the individual can decide to pay the ticket in function of the number of hours left. The individual who refuses a work option offer, or who does not offer a satisfying performance through the course of the work, can be incarcerated. 

The numbers

For the pas ten years, the work options program allowed more than 166,000 people to reimburse their debt to society. In 2006–2007, over 5,000 community organizations welcomed around 15,000 participants who did more than 1,012,713 hours of unpaid work in the community. The Work Options Program costs $1,8M annually and has proven to be a contributor in the solidification of Quebec’s society.

To learn more on work options, consult the Spring 2008 edition of the Porte ouverte.