New Act Limits Police Record Checks Disclosure and Standardizes Procedures

On December 1, 2015, the Government of Ontario passed Bill 113, the Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015. The Act, which is not yet in force, states what information can be released through police record checks and creates uniformity in disclosure procedures. Consequently, individuals and organizations seeking to obtain police record checks will only be able to do so in the manner prescribed by the Act.

Currently, employers who require a police record check as part of their screening process may receive records of withdrawn charges, acquittals, mental health detentions and suicide attempts. Under the new legislation, police services are prohibited, except in limited circumstances, from disclosing mental health records, non-conviction records – such as acquittals and withdrawn charges – and records from police “carding” checks.

The Act applies to any individual or organization requiring a police check for purposes such as screening an individual to determine “his or her suitability for employment, volunteer work, a licence, an office, membership in any private body, or to provide or receive goods” or for “assessing his or her application to an educational institution or program”.

The Act also standardizes procedures pertaining to police record checks. The Act explicitly requires that police services provide the results of the record check to only the concerned individual and to no other party without that individual’s consent. The Act also establishes a reconsideration framework should anyone believe that information has been erroneously included on their police record check. Moreover, the Act places a requirement on employers who receive information from a police record check to not use it or disclose it except for the purpose for which it was requested or as authorized by law.

Bird Richard will keep readers apprised of the Act’s coming into force.