TORONTO – With forest fire season well underway in Ontario, the province has increased the maximum fines for individuals and corporations for starting forest fires.

If found responsible, individuals can now be fined up to $25,000 for starting a forest fire, with fines for corporations going up to $500,000. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry says these increased maximum fines will help deter human-started fires.

“We all have a role in preventing wildland fires, and with this change we can ensure those who start the fires pay their fair share. Our government is committed to protecting the people and resources of Ontario, and reducing the risk of human-caused forest fires,” says Kathryn McGarry, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.

A media release from MNRF states that approximately half of all forest fires are started by people. These updated fines will bring Ontario in line with other provincial jurisdictions. The MNRF also notes that fire management in Ontario costs on average $130 million per year.

These fines only apply to forest fires inside the “Fire Region” identified in the Forest Fires Prevention Act.