For Individuals

This section of the HUB provides content such as information, guides, toolkits, research and other resources for Individuals with records, Legal Professionals and Service Providers working with people who have records.

Rights and Protection of Those Applying for a Criminal Record Check

In recent years, there has been an increase in requests for employees and volunteers to provide police record checks at the time of hiring. These record checks can be privacy-invasive and lead to discriminatory treatment, so it is important for you to know what laws apply to organizations requesting a record check.

1. Consent and Privacy

Organizations generally cannot get your police record information without your consent. You should be asked to sign a form consenting to the release of specific information. You should always read the details on the consent form to find out exactly what type of check you are consenting to. You can learn more about the types of record checks available in Ontario and what they reveal using the resources available below. In addition, the law in Ontario requires that police record checks be returned to the individual, which means it will be up to you whether or not to share the results with your employer. There are cases where companies use a “self disclosure” form where you are asked to declare what records you have, and the consent form would permit the police to share the results directly with a potential employer. This is why it is very important to review consent forms closely.

What Are Police Records?

What Are Police Records?

This resources provides an overview of police records by outlining how police records are created, the different categories and types of police records that exist in Ontario.

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Police Record Check Reform Act

What You Need to Know

Ontario is standardizing three types of police record checks conducted as part of a screening process for employment, volunteering, professional licensing and other purposes.

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What's included in a police record check?

Steps to Justice

Steps to Justice

Visit Steps to Justice for an interactive guide on what’s included in a police record check.

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If you don’t understand something on your criminal background check, you have the right to ask the police records management department to answer any questions you might have. If you think the information on your criminal record is not accurate, there are steps you can take. For more information, click here.

It is also important to remember that just because you obtained a criminal background check, it does not mean that you absolutely need to give it to the employer requesting it. What you do with your criminal background check is completely up to you. However, if you don’t provide your record check in instances where an employer has requested one, this could negatively impact your ability to get the job you are applying for. See our E-Learning tool to explore the potential impacts of disclosing or not disclosing your record:

Criminal Record Disclosure E-Learning

This is an e-Learning course on telling a potential employer about your criminal record.

By the end of it you will understand:

  • The advantages and disadvantages of disclosing a criminal record
  • Your legal rights regarding criminal background checks
  • Tips and techniques on how to effectively disclose a criminal record
BEGIN E-LEARNING WORKSHOP

Can an employer ask me if I have a police record?

Steps to Justice

Steps to Justice

Visit Steps to Justice for an interactive guide on whether an employer can ask if you have a police record.

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2. Human Rights Legislation in Ontario

In some circumstances, organizations’ ability to request and use information from your police record will be limited by human rights law. Ontario’s human rights legislation, the Ontario Human Rights Code, only protects people from discrimination if they have a pardoned conviction (now known as a record suspension). There are also human rights protections for individuals who have a conviction for any provincial offence, such as offences under the Highway Traffic Act. These existing human rights protections mean that in most circumstances (with a few exceptions), an employer cannot refuse to hire you because of your pardoned convictions or record of provincial offences.

Unfortunately, however, there is no clear human rights protection in Ontario for individuals with police records or convictions that have not been subject to a pardon (or record suspension). That means that an employer can legally choose not to hire you because you have a criminal record. That being said, if you have the opportunity to discuss your police record with a potential employer, you may get an chance to explain it and tell them why they should still hire you as the best candidate for the job. Check out our E-Learning tool on for some helpful tips and videos.

3. Special protections for youth records

Youth records – generally speaking, records created when an individual was accused of a crime between the ages of 12 and under the age of 18 – are subject to special privacy rules. These records are governed by the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Most employers are not allowed to see or know about your youth record. Here is a guide on how to answer employer questions specifically about youth records: http://youth.cleo.on.ca/en/getting-job/employers-questions/

How does having a youth record affect me?

Steps to Justice

Steps to Justice

Visit Steps to Justice for an interactive guide on how does having a youth record affect individuals.

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Information on Youth Records

Justice for Children and Youth

Justice for Children and Youth Wiki - Youth Records

Resource with relevant information regarding youth records.

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Police Record Check Reform Act

Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Canadian Civil Liberties Association

What you need to know about the new Police Record Checks Reform Act.

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Record Suspensions (Pardons)

A Record Suspension (formerly called a pardon) is an order that keeps a person’s criminal record (of convictions) separate and apart from other criminal records. This means a person’s convictions will not be revealed on criminal record checks. It does not erase a criminal record. Record suspensions allow people who have made positive life changes to be freed from many of the negative impacts of having a criminal record.

The following are great resources if you are thinking of applying for a record suspension:

Record Suspension Services

John Howard Society of Ontario

Record Suspension Services

Information on Record Suspension services offered by the John Howard Society locations across Ontario.

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Records Suspension Application

Parole Board of Canada

Parole Board of Canada

Helpful resources from the Parole Board of Canada, the the official and only federal agency responsible for record suspensions.

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Cannabis Record Suspensions

Parole Board of Canada

Parole Board of Canada

Learn about the eligibility criteria for a cannabis record suspension and how to apply for one Parole Board of Canada.

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Relevant Links

Criminal Records Act
RCMP – Criminal Record Check
Ontario Human Rights Commission – Record of Offences
Parole Board of Canada – Record Suspensions
Steps to Justice
Toronto Employment & Social Services – Employment Portal
Youth Criminal Justice Act
Justice for Children and Youth – Youth Records