Police Record Checks

Police Record Checks in Ontario

This information is provided for general purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind.

A police record check is a search of police database records about an individual. These checks are often used as part of a screening process for employment or volunteering.

In Ontario, the Police Record Checks Reform Act, governs the types of record checks that can be conducted for screening (for example, non-law enforcement) purposes. The act authorizes three different types of police record checks:

  • criminal record check includes applicable criminal convictions and findings of guilt under the federal Youth Criminal Justice Act
  • criminal record and judicial matters check includes applicable criminal convictions, findings of guilt under the federal Youth Criminal Justice Act, absolute and conditional discharges, outstanding charges, arrest warrants, and certain judicial orders
  • vulnerable sector check includes the same type of information that is disclosed in a criminal record and judicial matters check as well as applicable findings of not criminally responsible due to mental disorder, record suspensions (pardons) related to sexually-based offences, and in certain circumstances, non-conviction charge related information; when a strict test is met

In Ontario, beginning November 1, 2018, the following information must be included in police record checks that are subject to the Police Record Checks Reform Act:

Type of information disclosed Criminal record check Criminal record and judicial matters check Vulnerable sector check
Criminal offence convictions, unless a pardon has been issued or granted. Disclosed.

However, does not disclose summary convictions if the request is made more than five years after the date of the summary conviction.
Disclosed.

However, does not disclose summary convictions if the request is made more than five years after the date of the summary conviction.
Disclosed.

However, does not disclose summary convictions if the request is made more than five years after the date of the summary conviction.
Guilty findings under the federal Youth Criminal Justice Act during the applicable period of access under that Act. Disclosed.

Disclosed in accordance with restrictions under the Youth Criminal Justice Act and Police Record Checks Reform Act requirements.
Disclosed.

Disclosed in accordance with restrictions under the Youth Criminal Justice Act and Police Record Checks Reform Act requirements.
Disclosed.

Disclosed in accordance with restrictions under the Youth Criminal Justice Act and Police Record Checks Reform Act requirements.
Every criminal offence of which the individual has been found guilty and received an absolute discharge. Not disclosed. Disclosed.

However, not disclosed if the request is made more than one year after the date of the absolute discharge.
Disclosed.

However, not disclosed if the request is made more than one year after the date of the absolute discharge.
Every criminal offence of which the individual has been found guilty and received a conditional discharge on conditions set out in a probation order. Not disclosed. Disclosed.

However, not disclosed if the request is made more than three years after the date of the conditional discharge.
Disclosed.

However, not disclosed if the request is made more than three years after the date of the conditional discharge.
Every criminal offence for which there is an outstanding charge or warrant to arrest in respect of the individual. Not disclosed. Disclosed. Disclosed.
Every court order made against the individual. Not disclosed. Disclosed.

However, does not disclose:
Disclosed.

However, does not disclose:
  • court orders made under the Mental Health Act or under Part XX.1 of the Criminal Code (Canada)
  • court orders made in relation to a charge that has been withdrawn
  • restraining orders made against the individual under the Family Law Act, the Children’s Law Reform Act or the Child and Family Services Act
Every criminal offence with which the individual has been charged that resulted in a finding of not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder. Not disclosed. Not disclosed. Disclosed.

However, does not disclose if the request is made more than five years after the date of the finding or if the individual received an absolute discharge.
Any conviction for which a pardon has been granted. Not disclosed unless authorized under the Criminal Records Act (Canada). Not disclosed unless authorized under the Criminal Records Act (Canada). Not disclosed unless authorized under the Criminal Records Act (Canada).
Non-conviction information
(charges that have been dismissed, withdrawn or stayed, or that resulted in a stay of proceedings or an acquittal).
Not disclosed. Not disclosed. Section 10 of Ontario’s Police Record Checks Reform Act outlines criteria that must be met for disclosing non-conviction information in circumstances set out in that section.

Obtaining a police record check

Where to get a police record check

In Ontario, you can request a police record check from a municipal police service or the Ontario Provincial Police. There are also private businesses that provide police record checks.

Know your rights

Under Ontario’s Police Record Checks Reform Act:

  • certain information cannot be disclosed under the act, including whether you were a victim or witness of a crime or if you had non-criminal (i.e., did not lead to charges) contact with police while you were suffering from a mental health crisis
  • if a police record check provider carries out your check, the results will be released directly to you to confirm they are factually correct before you give permission for them to be released to a third party
  • youth records, if released to the individual, are released as a separate record and should not be shared with anybody else, including a potential employer
  • if you believe certain records in your check are inaccurate or should not be included as per the Police Record Checks Reform Act disclosure rules, you can ask the police record check provider for information on how you can seek a correction
  • if you believe certain non-conviction information should not be included, you can ask the police record check provider to reconsider whether the information should be contained in your check

Exemptions to these rules may also apply in certain situations. When a police record check is requested, in all instances consent must first be granted by the individual.

Additionally, police record check providers (including third party providers) will not be required to seek an individual’s consent a second time before disclosing the results, when certain conditions are met. This exemption will not apply to vulnerable sector checks.

Requesting a police record check

When requesting a record check from an individual for reasons such as employment or licensing, the organization is responsible to ensure the screening process is consistent with the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Record checks can be used when hiring someone to work or volunteer in positions of trust over vulnerable people who, because of their age, disability or other circumstances, are at greater risk.

Exemptions from Ontario’s Police Record Check Reform Act

Certain police record checks have been exempted from the Police Record Checks Reform Act, or parts of the act. A full list of exemptions are outlined in legislation and regulation.  Examples of police record check exemptions include, but is not limited to, certain situations such as:

  • applying for child custody or adoptions
  • providing residential care or foster care for children and youth
  • applying for a legal name change
  • requirements for a firearms license application
  • screening for certain roles and purposes in the education, early years, child care, and justice sectors, and in relation to certain roles within the Ontario Public Service
  • screening for certain roles in electricity generation facilities
  • certain contexts related to securities markets