New Requirements for Police Record Checks in Ontario

In December 2015, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario passed the Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015. The Act was tabled in response to increasing concerns about the inappropriate and uneven disclosure of personal information during police record checks. Employees and employers should be aware of this new Act, which will soon be coming into force in Ontario.

Following guidelines developed by a broad spectrum of policing, civil liberties, human rights, community safety, mental health and non-profit groups in Ontario, the Act sets out a comprehensive set of standards to govern how police record checks are conducted in Ontario. The Act is concerned, among other things, with restricting the disclosure of information unrelated to criminal convictions. Pursuant to the Act, except in narrowly defined circumstances, an employer seeking to conduct a police record check is not entitled to information regarding outstanding criminal charges, an individual’s mental health or other court orders that are not convictions.

Three types of police record checks are defined under the Act:

  • criminal record checks;
  • criminal record and judicial matters checks; and
  • vulnerable sector checks.

The Act limits and standardizes the types of information which can be released under each category of police record check. Vulnerable sector checks are completed in cases where an individual is in a position of trust or authority over vulnerable persons, like children or the elderly. For this reason, the Act allows for the disclosure of more personal information in such circumstances, but only if a strict qualifying test has been met.

In addition, pursuant to the Act, individuals are entitled to receive and review the information contained in their police record first, before it is disclosed to the employer or organization that requested the information. Accordingly, employers seeking to conduct such police record checks will only receive the information requested if the individual consents to its disclosure following personal review.

It is important that employees are aware of their rights when an employer or potential employer requests a police record check. To find out more about police record checks and the Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015, contact employment lawyer Peter McSherry online or at 519-821-5465.

To read the full Act, click here.