Ontario standardizes background checks

The Ontario government has passed legislation that standardizes what background information is released from police records.
Police can now only release information in background checks with the permission of the person involved and after the person has reviewed what police plan to release.
The legislation is the first of its type in Ontario and impacts hundreds of thousands of people and eliminates what had been inconsistent and arbitrary rules among the province’s police services.
The new law defines three types of record checks: criminal, judicial and vulnerable sector checks, the latter including tens of thousands of checks demanded for volunteers by groups like sports leagues.
If the person objects to any of the information, he or she can ask for reconsideration to have the data purged from the file before it’s released.
The legislation also includes strict limits on release of non-conviction information where a person has been charged or tried for an offence and either had the charges dropped or been found not guilty at trial.
Disclosure of non-conviction information will now only be allowed “in exceptional circumstances, if a strict test is met” and where a person is in a position of trust or authority over vulnerable people such as children or the elderly.
Police will still have discretion to release information under the new legislation but will have to justify their decision and show that a person acquitted of an offence nevertheless has a pattern of predatory behavior that makes the individual unsuitable to work with vulnerable people including minors.
Minor contact with police that did not result in charges will also not be released during record checks, as was previously the case. There are recorded instances of that information damaging job, travel and volunteer prospects, often years later.
Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Yasir Naqvi called the new law a balance between public safety and strengthening of civil rights.
Canadian Civil Liberties Association spokesperson Laura Berger welcomed the legislation as a “necessary and important step forward,” noting many Ontario forces are already “more or less complying.”

Corrections Minister Yasir Naqvi By Gerald V. Paul
Corrections Minister Yasir Naqvi
By Gerald V. Paul