Ontario Passes Police Record Checks Legislation
Province Removing Barriers to Opportunity and Promoting Fairness
Today, Ontario passed the Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015 to protect public safety and strengthen individual civil liberties by removing unnecessary barriers to employment, education and volunteer opportunities resulting from the inappropriate disclosure of non-conviction and non-criminal records, such as mental health information, in police record checks.
The new legislation sets the province's first-ever clear, consistent and comprehensive set of standards to govern how police record checks are conducted in Ontario, and applies to the majority of purposes for which such checks are conducted. It also:
- Defines three types of police record checks: criminal record checks, criminal record and judicial matters checks, and vulnerable sector checks
- Limits and standardizes the types of information that can be released in each type of record check
- Standardizes disclosure practices, such as ensuring that the person to whom a record relates has the opportunity to review the results prior to permitting its release to a requesting third party.
The new standards are based on advice from the Minister's Table on Policing and Civil Liberties and reflect the consensus achieved through the creation of the 2014 Law Enforcement and Records Managers Network (LEARN) Guideline (PDF, 1.5 mb). 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.
Vulnerable sector checks are completed in cases where an individual is in a position of trust or authority over vulnerable persons, like children or the elderly. In order to keep vulnerable persons safe, the legislation allows for the disclosure of non-conviction information in exceptional circumstances if a strict test has been met.
Protecting individual civil liberties and strengthening public safety is part of the government's plan to build Ontario up. 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. These checks are 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 use to screen potential employees or volunteers. Other examples of effective screening practices include personal reference checks, performance reviews, client feedback or other assessments.
“Reforming police record checks is all about strengthening individual civil rights and protecting public safety. This bill puts clear, consistent and effective rules in place for the first time in Ontario’s history to make sure that Ontarians are no longer negatively impacted by records of police contacts that do not pertain to criminal activity. This approach will help create opportunities for countless Ontarians in a way that builds stronger, safer communities right across the province.”