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Commissioners and political parties speak out on police records

June 19, 2014

Since the release of reports from the Office of Information and Privacy Commissioner, Ontario (IPC), the Canadian Civil Liberties Association(CCLA) and the John Howard Society Ontario(JHSO) on police record checks, others have come forward to share their stories and take up the cause of ending the disclosure of non-conviction records on police background checks.

Non-conviction records can include mental health apprehensions, suicide attempts, 911 calls, casual police contact, unproven allegations, withdrawn chargers and acquittals as well as information about witnesses, suspects and victims.

Earlier in June, Ontario’s privacy commissioner, Ann Cavoukian, filed a notice of application for judicial review with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. In a sworn affidavit, she alleges that when Toronto police officers automatically disclose mental health information by uploading it to the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database, they are in breach of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The Ontario Human Right Commission’s chief commissioner, Barbara Hall, also outlined that the Human Rights Code has a legislative quirk around this issue where Ontarians who commit crimes are better protected from workplace discrimination because they can request a pardon after they have served their sentence. Hall says it appears the issue of non-conviction records “just wasn’t addressed when that part of the Human Rights Code was drafted” and that it is time to protect Ontarians facing discrimination with clearer legislation.

All three major provincial political parties vowed to implement legislative reform to prevent the sharing of non-conviction information on police background checks.

Soon after, and one day before Ontario went to the polls for the 2014 provincial election, all three major provincial political parties vowed to implement legislative reform to prevent the sharing of non-conviction information on police background checks.

CMHA Ontario is closely involved with this issue having contributed to consultations on the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police LEARN Guidelines on Police
Record Checks, the IPC report on the Indiscriminate Disclosure of Attempted Suicide Information and also by attending the joint CCLA and JHSO report launch. CMHA Ontario continues to be involved in this issue as a co-chair of the Police Record Check Coalition (PRCC), a group of individuals and organizations comprising health law and human rights legal experts and representatives from CCLA, JHSO, the Ontario Association of Patient Councils, and the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario.

For more information, visit the PRCC website.

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