On December 1, 2015, the Ontario government passed the
Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015 (the
"Act"), which has not yet come into force. The Act will
apply to searches used to screen individuals for both employment
and volunteer positions. Once in force, the Act will impact the
information that can be released by police record checks.
Previously, Ontario did not have a standardized framework for
conducting police record checks. The information collected and
disclosed by police varied considerably across the province. Police
record checks sometimes revealed information about an
individual's mental health or personal circumstances. This gave
rise to complaints and privacy concerns, and occasionally it
created barriers to employment.
New Framework for Limited Disclosure
The new legislation creates a uniform standard for criminal
record checks in Ontario and limits the information that may be
disclosed. Except in limited circumstances, the law prohibits
disclosure of mental health records and non-conviction information,
such as withdrawn or dismissed charges and acquittals.
The new law establishes three categories for police record
checks and sets out the type of information that will be disclosed
in response to each check:
Criminal record checks can only
disclose criminal convictions for which a pardon has not been
issued or granted, and findings of guilt under Canada's Youth
Criminal Justice Act;
Criminal record and judicial matters
checks can also disclose court orders made against the individual,
criminal offences for which the individual was found guilty but
received a conditional or absolute discharge, and criminal offences
for which there is an outstanding charge or warrant to arrest;
Vulnerable sector checks can only be
performed when an individual is in a position of trust or authority
over vulnerable persons like children or the elderly. These checks
permit additional disclosure of charges where the individual was
found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder and
certain additional non-conviction information. This additional
disclosure must, however, meet the criteria for "exceptional
disclosure", which considers how long ago the incident
occurred and whether the incident involved a vulnerable
A police record check provider cannot conduct a police record
check unless the individual provides prior written consent. Once
the record check has been conducted, the individual is given an
opportunity to review the results first and must provide written
consent before the authorities can disclose the information. If the
individual believes that non-conviction information is unjustly
included, there is a reconsideration process available.
What is the Potential Impact of the Act on Condominium
The new standardized process will limit the information an
organization will receive in response to a criminal record check.
Information in police record checks will only be disclosed by the
authorities where an individual has reviewed the results and
consented to the disclosure. Organizations should be aware of the
new rules in the Act, update their policies to adapt to the new
requirements, and retrain any staff conducting criminal record
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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