Police record checks reform legislation took another step towards reality as Bill 113 passed its second reading in the Ontario Legislature on Tuesday, Sept. 29. The bill outlines what can be disclosed by police officers on police records and legislates procedures on requesting, conducting and disclosing police record check information.
CMHA Ontario was consulted during the drafting of the proposed Police Record Checks Reform Act (PRCRA) as the Division has been advocating for legislative change on this issue for almost a decade.
The PRCRA was introduced in the Ontario Legislature in June, but the government waited to call it for debate until after the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services completed its public consultations on police record checks earlier this month.
“CMHA Ontario commends the Ontario government for moving forward with the Police Record Checks Reform Act,” CMHA Ontario CEO Camille Quenneville said. “This important legislation marks a positive step towards ensuring that mental health police records are not treated like criminal records.”
The PRCRA highlights six key components:
- Police record checks are to be requested, provided and disclosed only as permitted in the Act.
- Anyone can obtain a copy of their police record check.
- Written consent must be given by the individual in order for the police to disclose the police record check information to a third party (an employer or volunteer organization).
- The disclosure of information related to Mental Health Act apprehensions is prohibited.
- Non-conviction information can be disclosed in exceptional circumstances only when stated.
- Procedures for reconsideration and correction of information provided in a police record check must be outlined by police services.
The legislation is meant to protect Ontarians from having their personal information, such as dropped criminal charges or mental health interactions, shared with a potential employer, volunteer organization or peer.
“CMHA Ontario is pleased that the Police Record Checks Reform Act ensures that mental health police record information including Mental Health Act apprehensions, orders and police contact will not appear on any level of police check,” Quenneville said. “Disclosing mental health police records increases the negative stereotypes and the stigma associated with mental health.”
CMHA Ontario is Co-Chair of the Police Records Check Coalition, a group of more than 30 people and organizations comprising health law and human rights legal experts and representatives from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Ontario Association of Patient Councils, the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario and the John Howard Society of Ontario. For more information on police records and how they can impact individuals, visit the Coalition’s website at www.PRCCOntario.ca.