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Can a criminal record prevent someone from volunteering?

Region: Ontario Answer # 2121

Police records check legal requirement

It is a legal requirement that volunteers undergo a police records check (refer to Pre-employment screening / background checks). If a criminal record exists, the individual may have an opportunity to explain the circumstances surrounding the event. To erase your Canadian criminal record, or to obtain a USA Entry Waiver, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners.

If the criminal record has been pardoned, the applicant is not legally required to disclose it.  Under section 5(b) of the Criminal Records Act, the pardon “removes any disqualification or obligation to which the person so convicted is, by reason of the conviction, subject by virtue of the provisions of any Act of Parliament.” If the record has been otherwise removed from public record (e.g. purged) or if the person’s fingerprints and photographs have been destroyed, likewise, the record will no longer be disclosed.

If the criminal record has not been pardoned (or otherwise sealed or destroyed), however, and the application asks whether the individual has a criminal record, the applicant is under a legal obligation to disclose it. Failure to do so will most likely lead to the person not being hired once the criminal record is discovered.

Practically speaking, for criminal records, which have not been pardoned (or otherwise sealed or destroyed), it is best to disclose the information to the prospective employer. This gives the applicant the opportunity to discuss the circumstance of the situation, is not only the most ethical approach, but also the one proven to give the applicant the best chance of being hired. Writing a letter explaining what happened and showing remorse and rehabilitation can help. If an application has been made to have the record removed, this should be stated as taking steps to remove a record rehabilitation , and that the intention is to lead a crime-free life.

Where do volunteers go to complete a local police records check

The volunteer organization will often give the applicant a form to take to the local police service. In some jurisdictions, the local police service will be the municipal police, while in others it may be the provincial police or the RCMP.

If the organization deals with children, the elderly, the disabled, etc., then the applicant will be asked to consent to a local police records check specific for the vulnerable sector, which will include additional information. The police will conduct the search and, depending on the jurisdiction, will either mail the result to the individual or require them to go to the police station to pick it up.

In some cases, the applicant will simply be asked to sign a consent allowing the organization to request a police records check using the applicant’s name and date of birth. In such cases, the organization will normally bundle all of the consents together and submit them to the police at one time. The police will then conduct their searches and provide the results directly to the organization.

If you wish to apply for a job, or become a volunteer, it is best to have your criminal record removed first.

Get help

To erase your criminal record, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, refer to our criminal law section.


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