Mental Health & Police Background Checks

Posted on 03.09.2015

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Applicants for employment seeking work in careers or volunteer positions in the “vulnerable sector” (jobs involving children, the disabled, and the elderly), will almost invariably be asked by the company at which they seek a position to either have a background check or police check run on their own or to give consent for the company at which the subject wishes to secure a position.

These background checks tend to include checks run via the Police Information Portal (PIP), Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC), Provincial Court Records (JUSTIN), and the Police Records Management System (PRIME), which collectively disclose all warrants, outstanding charges, convictions, and adverse contact with concern to the Canadian Criminal Justice System, but not the disclosures of apprehensions under the Mental Health Act, which was previously included on a Police Information Check (Vulnerable Sector), also known as PIC-VS, (Vulnerable Sector Check) but will no longer be disclosed.

Further, these background checks exclude certain adverse contact involving the threat or actual use of violence directed at others without regard to and in non-disclosure of mental health status, youth offences unless provided for under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, or any data regarding sexual offence convictions when a pardon or record suspension has been granted to the applicant.

For some, mental illness may result in non-criminal contact with the police, who retain a record of the contact, and may hold this information for a number of years, or indefinitely. Although these individuals, their families or others may have contacted the police for emergency assistance, the information may subsequently be disclosed through police record checks. This can create significant barriers when the person applies for employment and volunteer positions among other barriers.

The LEARN Guideline on Police Record Checks, released by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police in July 2011 lends a human rights spin on this matter with a focus on people with mental health issues. It shows police services how to conduct police record checks for people seeking work or volunteer opportunities. The guideline has been endorsed by police services as well as many other related entities and vulnerable sector agencies.

This is a great reason to have a third party conduct police background checks so your company doesn’t have to sort through these complicated human rights laws. This practice will provide a professional knowledge of how to conduct a background check and obtain legal information that your company can use to determine whether you want to employ a subject.


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