Are you applying for a job, volunteer work or educational opportunities? If you are, you may be asked to conduct a Police Vulnerable Sector Check (PVSC). This is meant to assess your suitability for positions where you would have trust or authority in relation to vulnerable persons. This includes children under 18 years of age, people who are dependent on others due to age, disability or circumstance, or people otherwise at a greater risk than the general population.
A PVSC is a search of the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) and other local databases for records made by any police service in Canada and, in the past, it would release convictions and non-conviction records relating to you. Having non-conviction information – such as a suicide attempt or you were stopped and “carded” by police – might bar you from future employment, volunteer and educational opportunities. However, thanks to changes in Ontario law which come into force on November 1st, 2018, only certain types of information can be disclosed.
Is a Records Check a Human Rights Violation?
Some organizations felt that background checks violated many human rights, both in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code.
In 2015, Ontario introduced the Police Record Checks Reform Act to address these concerns. This amended the information revealed from Police Record Checks and how employers could conduct criminal background checks such as a PVSC. This Act received royal assent in December 2015.
This means that non-criminal record information in police databases because of street checks, “carding” or incidents relating to mental health issues will not be disclosed in PVSCs. Most convictions for which a pardon has been granted will not be disclosed in police record checks, either, though there are exceptions to this rule. The disclosure of “non-conviction information” will only occur during a PVSC.
Under this new law, you are entitled to receive and review any police information about you first before it is disclosed to the organization requesting the information. You must also consent to the disclosure of the information to the organization requesting it.
While it is commonly known that police have shared information about suicide attempts and similar mental health issues with U.S. border agents, which has prohibited people from crossing the border, the law does not cover this.
What Information Will Now Be Disclosed?
The Vulnerable Sector Check WILL include the following information:
(a) Criminal convictions from CPIC and/or local databases.
(b) Summary convictions, for five years, when identified.
(c) Findings of Guilt under the Youth Criminal Justice Act within the applicable disclosure period.
(d) Outstanding entries, such as charges and warrants, judicial orders, Peace Bonds, Probation and Prohibition Orders. As per CPIC policy, information obtained from the Investigative Databank must be confirmed and authorized for release by the contributing agency.
(e) Absolute and conditional discharges for 1 or 3 years respectively.
(f) In very exceptional cases, where it meets the Exceptional Disclosure Assessment, non-conviction dispositions including, but not limited to, Withdrawn and Dismissed.
(g) Not Criminally Responsible by Reason of Mental Disorder.
(h) All record suspensions as authorized for release by the Minister of Public Safety.
The Vulnerable Sector Check WILL NOT include:
(a) Convictions under provincial statutes.
(b) Local police contact.
(c) Ministry of Transportation information (PARIS).
(d) Special Interest Police (SIP) category of CPIC.
(e) Family Court Restraining Orders.
(f) Foreign information.
(g) Any reference to incidents involving mental health contact.
(h) Diversions will not be released as police contact and no reference to the occurrence is permitted (CC S. 717.4).
(i) Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) information beyond the applicable disclosure period.
(j) Any reference to contagious diseases.
If you live outside of Ottawa/Gatineau, you CANNOT request a records check from the Ottawa Police Service.
It should be noted that Vulnerable sector checks must be conducted by the local Canadian police service where an applicant lives.
Contact a Lawyer
If you would like to obtain more information about what can be shared in a Vulnerable Sector Check (PVSC), a Criminal Records Check (CR) or a Criminal Record and Judicial Matters Check (CRJM), Armoured Suits offers a complimentary 30-minute private phone consultation. Contact us by phone at 613-233-0008 or e-mail at [email protected] to book your meeting.