John Howard Society urges province to move forward with police record check reform

The John Howard Society of Sudbury is calling on the province to enshrine legislation that would reform the police record check system.
Vision Quest, a conference and trade show in Winnipeg, is reviewing its volunteer policy after it was determined a volunteer was a registered sex offender. (Shutterstock)

The John Howard Society of Sudbury is calling on the province to enshrine legislation that would reform the police record check system.

The Police Record Checks Reform Act prevents non-conviction and non-criminal records from appearing on police checks. The bill was given Royal Assent in December 2015, but the law still has not been officially proclaimed more than two years later.

"People are refused jobs or volunteer opportunities or housing because of a record check from the police," said Executive Director John Rimore.

"The police have noted that they were called to this person's home or there was a charge. Many of these records are non-convictions, the person has never been convicted of a crime."

Under the current system, a police record check can include information about any police interaction. This is especially harmful for marginalized groups and people with mental issues, Rimore said.

Record check a deterrent to employment

Robert Dominelli knows first-hand how a record check can affect someone's life, after spending nine years in and out of Sudbury's jail.

"I have four children. If I want to be a volunteer at the school, I can't do that," he explained.

Dominelli said he knows people who haven't been convicted of crimes whose record checks have still prevented them from finding work or volunteering.

"Let's say you were a person of interest in a case or your name was mentioned in a case in 2002, that's included in the police check. That should not be there because it's not a conviction, and that could be a deterrent to you finding employment."

Robert Dominelli (left) and John Rimore (right) are calling on the province to enshrine legislation that would reform the police record check system.

Province still developing regulations

Rimore said the Police Record Check Reform Act could have a dramatic impact in communities.

"There are hundreds of people with something that is on their police record that are being denied employment and housing," he said.

For many people, a criminal record check can be the difference between getting hired or remaining unemployed. The Police Record Checks Reform Act received royal assent in December 2015, but it hasn't yet been enshrined in law. It contains some important changes. John Rimore, the executive director of the John Howard Society explained why the province needs to step up. 5:41

"Really good people, honest people, people who have raised their families are being denied opportunities that should be open to everyone."

In a statement, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional services said it's still working on developing the appropriate regulations to support the legislation.

"Our government created Ontario's first ever clear and consistent laws governing police record checks," the statement from press secretary Dorijan Najdovski said.

"This is an important issue to many across the province — that is why we are committed to getting this right."

About the Author

Robin De Angelis

Reporter/Editor

Robin De Angelis is a multimedia journalist based in Sudbury. Get in touch on Twitter @RobinElizabethD or by email robin.deangelis@cbc.ca