Canadian Civil Liberties Association

“We have found no evidence that police record checks are useful workplace screening tools for employers or volunteer organizations.”

In fact, the available research suggests that a prior criminal conviction is not correlated with an increased likelihood to commit a subsequent work-related offence. What is clear is that there is significant individual and societal cost associated with widespread, unnecessary police record checks.

On a personal level, individuals who have paid their debt to society find that they are facing years of social and economic exclusion due to the stigma of a criminal record. Those with non-conviction records are being excluded from school, denied employment and isolated from their communities on the basis of 911 calls and unproven allegations.

On a societal level, placing increased and unnecessary barriers in front of individuals who are seeking employment, education or volunteer experience is counterproductive. For those who have committed a crime, employment – along with the social networks and economic stability that work provides – increases the likelihood of successful rehabilitation and reintegration.

Police services are also impacted, as they divert policing resources to satisfy an ever-growing demand for record checks. The financial cost of maintaining this system is ultimately borne by all of us: the unemployed, students, volunteers, community members, businesses and government are all shouldering the costs of performing these record checks.

What Can we Do?

The time has come for Canadian organizations and governments to address this issue. Canadian law provides only a patchwork of legal regulation and protection. CCLA has a series of recommendations – both short-term and long-term – aimed at reintroducing perspective and balance to the societal use of police record checks.

Here’s how you can help:

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