On December 3, 2015, Bill 113 – the Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015 (“Bill 113” or the “Act”), received Royal Assent. Readers of Focus will recall the introduction of Bill 113 earlier this year (see Ontario introduces police record checks legislation – limits the release of non-criminal information). Bill 113 standardizes the process for requesting and disclosing police records and the information that can be disclosed in such records. It applies to most police record checks, including those conducted by employers to screen employees, potential employees or volunteers. For employers that do request such police record checks, the fundamental changes under Bill 113 will be the type of check that can be conducted, and the general prohibition on the disclosure of non-conviction information, except as provided for under the Act.
In terms of the types of checks that can be conducted, Bill 113 creates the following three categories:
- criminal record checks;
- criminal record and judicial matters checks; and
- vulnerable sector checks.
The amount of information that can be disclosed under each type of record check is set out in a table in a schedule to the Act. The information that is permitted to be disclosed becomes more comprehensive with each type of check.
The Act provides a general prohibition on the disclosure of “non-conviction information” except in the case of vulnerable sector checks and provided that the information is authorized for what the Act refers to as “exceptional disclosure”. The term “non-conviction information” is defined to mean information relating to charges that were dismissed, withdrawn, stayed, or resulted in a stay of proceedings or an acquittal. Where such non-conviction information is to be disclosed, the individual to whom the information relates is permitted to request a reconsideration of the disclosure. In the case of all police record checks, the information cannot be disclosed to a third party unless the individual to whom the record relates provides their written consent. Otherwise, the record can only be disclosed to the individual.
Finally, it is worth noting that the Act states that it is an offence to wilfully contravene the request and disclosure provisions of the Act. The Act goes on to impose a maximum fine of $5,000 for convictions under the Act. Prosecutions under the Act cannot be commenced without the Minister’s consent.
The Act comes into force on proclamation. We will advise Focus readers when the proclamation date is announced.