Our Policy Priorities: Police Record Checks

ONN POLICY PRIORITIES 2019-2020

October 7, 2021 update:

The Ontario government has introduced Bill 13, Supporting People and Businesses Act, including Schedule 20, which amends the 2015 Police Record Checks Reform Act. The purpose of the amendment is to “make it easier for people to become volunteers by providing free police record checks.” ONN is pleased to see that the measure covers police record checks (PRCs) conducted by both the Ontario Provincial Police and local police services across the province, and that volunteers can receive five (5) copies of their results without cost to use if they volunteer at different organizations. However, we are surprised that level 3 checks (Vulnerable Sector Checks) are excluded. By the government’s own estimates, these checks account for 80 per cent of checks conducted by municipal police services annually. 

Bill 13 is sponsored by the Associate Minister for Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, whose staff met with ONN recently. The measure was instigated by the many years of advocacy that ONN and our partners have conducted on police records checks. We appreciate the efforts of the Honourable Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General, who has been a longstanding champion of removing costs of police checks for volunteers) and her ministry staff to address the barriers to volunteering that PRCs fees can create.

July 9, 2021 update:

Certain exemptions under Police Record Checks Reform Act made permanent
The Ontario government has amended an exemptions regulation under the Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015, to replace temporary exemptions that were set to expire on July 1, 2021. The amendments include additional provisions for administering police record checks, such as:

  • greater transparency around how an exempted police record check is conducted and restrictions as to when non-criminal information can be disclosed; and
  • processes to respond to requests from an individual to review their results, correct inaccurate information or request a reconsideration.

Amendments clarify which exemptions will continue and the scope of each specific exemption. The amendments also introduce new criteria to guide what can be disclosed, enable disclosure of the results to the applicant (upon request) and require a process for review or reconsideration.

POLICE RECORD CHECKS

Advocate for an accessible, streamlined police record check process for nonprofit employees and volunteers

THE ISSUE

Volunteers and nonprofits experience uneven and unfair fees and processing timelines for police record checks across Ontario.
Some police forces charge fees for volunteer checks while others do not. Police record checks for nonprofit employees can also be expensive. Some police forces take many weeks to process requests because the system is still paper-based. A digitized, modernized system would reduce costs and speed up processing.

POLICY STATEMENT

ONN advocates for the Ontario nonprofit sector to use police record checks appropriately in the context of an overall employee and volunteer screening approach. ONN advocates for an accessible, digitized police record check processing system that provides free police record checks for volunteers and affordable checks for nonprofit employees with standardized processing times across Ontario. Nonprofits in Ontario must have timely and affordable access to appropriate information from police record checks that helps them manage risks to their employees, volunteers, and clients, particularly vulnerable groups.

NEXT STEPS

Advocate for the Ontario government to:

  • Mandate that the police record check system be modernized and digitized via regulations under the Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015, that would control the cost and administrative burden, and harmonize the process across Ontario jurisdictions.

Work with the Ontario nonprofit sector to use police record checks appropriately in the context of an overall employee and volunteer screening approach.