Ontario is introducing new legislation that would, if passed, eliminate unnecessary barriers to employment, education and volunteer opportunities resulting from the inappropriate release of non-conviction or mental health information disclosed during a police record check. The new standards for police record checks will implement the advice of the Minister’s Table on Policing and Civil Liberties and will build on the consensus achieved through the creation of the 2014 Law Enforcement and Records Managers Network (LEARN) Guideline. The guideline was developed by a broad spectrum of policing, civil liberties, human rights, community safety, mental health, and non-profit groups in Ontario in response to concerns about the lack of standardization of police record checks.
The proposed Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015, to be introduced today, would set the province’s first clear, consistent and comprehensive set of standards for how police record checks are requested, conducted, and disclosed by:
Ensuring that all police services in Ontario consistently offer three types of police record checks – criminal record checks, criminal record and judicial matters checks and vulnerable sector checks
Limiting and standardizing the types of information that can be released for each type of police record check
Ensuring that the person to whom a record relates has an opportunity to review the results prior to permitting its release to a requesting third party
Providing individuals with a process to request that certain types of non-conviction records, like dismissed charges, be reconsidered and not disclosed.
A vulnerable sector check would be available in cases where an individual is in a position of trust or authority over vulnerable persons, like children or the vulnerable elderly. The legislation also introduces a new test so that relevant non-conviction information required for vulnerable sector checks is released in order to keep vulnerable persons safe.
Protecting individual civil liberties and strengthening public safety is part of the government’s plan for Ontario. The four-part plan includes investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history, creating a dynamic, innovative environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan.
A police record check refers to a search of records that are held in police databases pertaining to a specific individual.
A police record check is often used as part of a screening process for employment, volunteering, and when applying for a professional licence.
Police record checks are just one tool that organizations may choose to screen potential employees or volunteers. Other examples of effective screening practices include personal reference checks, performance reviews, client feedback or other assessments.