Access to vulnerable sector checks a concern as RCMP offices remain closed to public
Background checks needed for jobs such as teachers and early childhood educators
P.E.I.'s Official Opposition is raising concerns about access to vulnerable sector checks for those who want to become teachers and early childhood educators.
Vulnerable sector checks are more thorough than criminal record checks, and often involve fingerprinting and include offences for which a person has received a pardon, said RCMP Staff-Sgt. Kevin Baillie.
Vulnerable sector checks are requested if the person is going to be in a position of trust over vulnerable people such as children, the elderly, or someone with a disability, he said.
RCMP buildings have remained closed to regular counter service during COVID-19. Until they reopen, background checks will likely be on hold, Baillie said, though RCMP have, on a case-by-case basis, assisted in completing vulnerable sector checks for people who have required them for jobs in the health-care sector during the pandemic.
Local police doing checks
At least one private company on P.E.I. has been doing the checks for a fee.
And in debate in the legislature this week, P.E.I. Justice Minister Bloyce Thompson said residents of Charlottetown, Summerside and Kensington can get the checks from their local police departments.
But Green Party MLA Steve Howard said that won't work for the rest of the Island where there are no municipal police forces.
Thompson said the province has asked Ottawa to have the RCMP reinstate the checks.
RCMP on P.E.I. have submitted plan
Baillie said RCMP national headquarters in Ottawa has to approve the plan submitted by each division to reopen offices in a safe manner. P.E.I. RCMP have submitted a plan for review and approval, he said.
Baillie said he expects there is a "considerable" backlog for requests of background checks.
Meanwhile, P.E.I.'s education minister said those applying for teaching positions are being allowed to submit previous vulnerable sector checks if they have them.
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With files from Angela Walker