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Are You Ready for the New Police Record Check Changes?

Posted By Adam Dias, July 3, 2018
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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes


Criminal record checks are changing this November and it’s important to stay updated so that you can get the information you need to protect your staff, your volunteers, and the people in your care. We’re here to walk you through why and how police record checks are changing and to make sure you’re ready for the shift.


Why change police record checks? 


Three years ago the Police Record Check Reform Act was passed, detailing the changes that we’re now facing—this November it will come into full effect, being enforced and standardized across the province. The act was created for three main purposes—to introduce a new option for police record checks, the criminal record and judicial matters check; to protect the privacy of those being checked; and to standardize the record check process and the information available across the province.


How are the record checks changing?


Criminal record check: The most basic form of record check, the criminal record check will go unchanged. It will continue to contain a criminal conviction summary from the local and national database as well as any finding of guilt under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.


Criminal record and judicial matters check: A new addition to the available options, this check expands upon the criminal record check by also including any absolute discharges from the last year, conditional discharges from the last three years, outstanding charges and warrants, and any court orders that have not been withdrawn and were not made under the Mental Health Act.


Vulnerable sector checkThe most comprehensive check available, the vulnerable sector check will include all of the above information as well as any convictions with findings of “not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder” from the last five years.

The vulnerable sector check will no longer include any non-conviction information unless it has been authorized for exceptional disclosure. Non-conviction information will be given if the police check provider has reasonable cause to believe the individual presents a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable person and when the alleged victim was a child or vulnerable person.

Want to make sure you’re getting the most accurate picture of your applicants? Join me at our next workshop on July 19 to learn more about police checks and the Ontario Human Rights Code. Register now!


As Volunteer Toronto's Training Specialist, Sammy Feilchenfeld develops and delivers in-person, online and on-demand training in order to support managers and coordinators of volunteers in Toronto’s non-profit and charitable organizations.

Tags:  Background Screening for volunteers  how to screen a volunteer  Personal Information Protection  Police Records Checks  Police screening  volunteer management  volunteer managers  Volunteer Police Records Checks  volunteer program  volunteer recruitment  volunteer screening 

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Volunteer Background Checks: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

Posted By Brian Mazoff, Eastern Canada Regional Director of Sales for SterlingBackcheck, December 3, 2015
Updated: December 2, 2015

 Estimated reading time: 4 minutes


While it’s true that background checks are only a part of what volunteer-driven organizations need to do to ensure they're providing a safe environment for their members, they also play a critical role in the screening process for certain positions.

If a volunteer position involves working alone with vulnerable people, or involves some activity that may be related to a record of offences (such as driving or handling money), a background check can help identify potential problems before they start. This is where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, possibly preventing an abusive or risky individual from working or volunteering with vulnerable populations. 

Volunteer Toronto’s partnership with SterlingBackcheck’s service offers affordable background screening services to their subscribers with easy online access. Applicants are guided through the simple step-by-step process and administrators save time by facilitating ordering and managing records all online. Results are delivered directly to the requesting organization.  With SterlingBackcheck’s stringent privacy policy restricting access to data, background screening results are stored only on secure sites, never transmitted by unsecured means and are stored in a secure Canadian facility.

For positions serving children or vulnerable adults, the Enhanced Police Information Check is recommended.  This not only covers the RCMP’s National Repository of Criminal Records, but goes beyond to search databases of locally-held police information on a national scale.  This ensures that the current two-year backlog of the CPIC database is covered, while also identifying any recent negative police contact, such as charges which haven’t yet resulted in convictions.  Highly sensitive and irrelevant information, such as mental health records, are not disclosed in accordance with guidance from privacy regulators.

Occasionally, organizations rely on ‘waivers of declaration’, in which prospective volunteers or employees will sign a document acknowledging that they have no record.  That’s the extent of the process and no actual background check is performed. While I sympathize with tight budgets--a common conundrum among not-for-profit organizations--this is a risky practice. If a position is deemed to require a background check, it’s better to go ahead with the process than risk having applicants who don’t disclose the truth.

There are many other practices, such as requiring that two adults be present at all times when dealing with a vulnerable individual, that go a long way to reduce incidents of abuse.  However, the most essential method of prevention remains a thorough vetting of your volunteer members with appropriate screening methods. Knowing who you’re trusting to work with your most vulnerable populations reduces risks of abuse, liability and reputational damage, all of which are possible death knells to any volunteer organization.

As with any collection of personal information—especially sensitive information regarding police contact and criminal history—be sure to document your practices and your justification for them in a background check policy. Additionally, your policy should be vetted by legal counsel to ensure your program is consistent and compliant with any applicable privacy and human rights law. You can also learn more about how to make sure that you use information from background checks responsibly through Volunteer Toronto’s training on Police Checks and the Ontario Human Rights Code.



Brian Mazoff has been working with SterlingBackcheck – Canada’s leading provider of employment and volunteer screening – since 2008. As Regional Director of Sales for Eastern Canada, Brian consults with hundreds of organizations to help implement compliant screening processes. Active in volunteer organizations from a young age and having worked with children’s organizations for nearly ten years, Brian is familiar with many of the challenges facing today’s non-profit and youth groups.

Tags:  Background Screening for volunteers  Police Records Checks  Police screening  Volunteer Police Records Checks 

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