Police Record Checks

Policing Services

Police Record Checks

Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015, S.O. 2015, c. 30

Police Record Checks in Ontario

Ontario is establishing clear and consistent rules to govern police record checks in the province to protect public safety and strengthen individual civil liberties by removing unnecessary barriers to employment, education and volunteer opportunities.

The Police Record Checks Reform Act prevents the disclosure of unnecessary information in police record checks. The Act, which will come into effect on November 1, 2018, standardizes the process by clearly defining three types of police record checks: criminal record checks, criminal record and judicial matters checks, and vulnerable sector checks. It also clearly specifies the information that can be released in each type of record check.

Ontario takes the responsibility of protecting public safety very seriously. For example, the rules around vulnerable sector checks have been rigorously designed to help screen individuals in a position of trust or authority over vulnerable persons, like children or the elderly.

Best Practices

When should you request police record checks?

Most organizations are not legally obligated to request police record checks when screening individuals. Examples of legal requirements for police record checks to be conducted typically relate to employment/volunteer positions with vulnerable populations (e.g., long-term care and retirement homes).

Some professional regulatory bodies and jobs in high-security sites are authorized to conduct police record checks on individuals applying for licensing, registration and certification.

A record check is also justified for those in positions of trust over vulnerable populations. However, a vulnerable sector check can be legally provided only if:

  • The request is made by a person or organization responsible for the well-being of a child or vulnerable person
  • The request is made in the context of a specific application for a paid or volunteer position
  • The position being applied for is one of trust or authority towards a child or vulnerable person
  • The applicant has given their consent in writing.

If a record check is necessary for a position, it should only be done as the last step in the hiring process — after the standard screening tools have identified an individual as a suitable candidate for an employment or volunteer opportunity.

Before an individual is asked to consent to a record check, an organization should also:

  • Understand its obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code with respect to evaluation, hiring and training volunteers or employees
  • Determine if a Vulnerable Sector Check is required
  • Understand that a Vulnerable Sector Check will be performed only for individuals who would be in positions of trust or authority over persons who, because of their age, disability or other circumstances, are at a greater risk than the general population

What other screening tools can you use?

To assess potential employees, volunteers and applicants, consider using standard screening tools, for example:

  • resumé and cover letter
  • personal reference checks
  • interviews
  • orientation sessions
  • job shadowing
  • followup reviews
  • feedback from clients
  • other assessments as appropriate (e.g., some professions, such as policing and aviation, require medical examinations to assess physical and mental health)

Disclaimer: These best practices are only suggestions. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services is not prescribing procedures for your organization. If you will be conducting a record check, please contact your local police service for more information.