A new report highlights how a police record can make it difficult or impossible to get a job or enter an education or training program, even when the crime is irrelevant to the job or education being pursued.
Released by the John Howard Society of Ontario (JHSO), The Invisible Burden: Police Records and the Barriers to Employment in Toronto found that police record checks are requested frequently by employers and have a powerful effect on hiring practices and employment outcomes. Sixty percent of employers surveyed for the report indicated that they required police backgrounds checks for all new employees, and 15 percent said that they would not hire someone with a police record regardless of the offence and the type of position.
These results are particularly sobering because a police record is different from a criminal record. A criminal record will show any convictions a person has received. A police record may show much more information. For example, if the police take a person to a hospital or transfer between hospitals, there may be a police record. Many consumers, family members and stakeholders are unaware of this practice and its harmful effects.
The report’s recommendations include amendments to the Human Rights Code, reforming Canada’s record suspension system, and bringing the Police Records Check Reform Act into force. A Toronto Star story recently revealed that despite passing the legislation more than two years ago, the province still hasn’t proclaimed the legislation into law.
“Mental health police records are not criminal records and should not be treated as such. JHSO’s new report calls important attention to the status of the Police Records Check Reform Act,” said Camille Quenneville, CEO of CMHA Ontario. “This law, once in force, will help minimize the disclosure of information that creates barriers for individuals living with a mental health issue.”
To read the full report, visit the JHSO website.