Waiting times are getting longer for criminal background checks as more companies and groups require them from prospective employees and volunteers.

A Saint John man complains the waits are now such that they are causing people to lose out on job offers and other opportunities.

Brian Marr

Brian Marr says the wait for a criminal background check almost cost him a job. (CBC)

Brian Marr says he nearly lost his maintenance jobs because it's taking so long to get his criminal background clearance.

In January, Marr paid the $25 fee and gave his information to the Saint John Police Force.

He was later contacted by police and told there was a problem — the search had turned up someone who shared his birth date and had the same last name.

In 2010, the RCMP adopted a new policy aimed at capturing former sex offenders who may have changed their names, but couldn't change their date of birth.

If someone on the registry shares the birthday and gender of the person being checked, the file is flagged by police. 

There is a 25 per cent chance of that happening. It's a more common occurrence for males.

The only way to clear up the situation is to have fingerprints taken. That requires another $25 fee and a longer wait.

Marr says it was a painful wait for him, until his employer agreed to accept an old police report that is now one year out of date.

"I was camped out here almost every day saying, 'I'm serious. I want to go to work but I'm trying to get this check done and I understand why you can't hire me because you need it.'

"Then I finally came up with the brainstorm — I'll just go to my last employer and pray that they still have it."

Jay Henderson of the Saint John Police Force says more and more groups are asking for background checks.

"Not just employment, but now it's organizations, volunteers, it's coaches, and sports teams that are requesting this, so certainly the increase in demand is there now," said Henderson.

Saint John police and volunteer groups in Saint John say the average wait for clearance is a week to 10 days.

RCMP say a flagged file that requires fingerprint clearance can take three months to process.