Criminal pardon fee a 'significant' barrier, feds told in consultation

Posted
April 20, 2017
Article Source
The Globe and Mail

The $631 fee to apply for a criminal pardon poses a substantial hurdle for people trying to turn their lives around, said a large majority of those who responded to a federal consultation.

Eighty per cent indicated the fee is a significant barrier while 16 per cent considered it a modest barrier, says a newly released briefing note about the consultation results.

A formal report of the findings is still being prepared, but The Canadian Press used the Access to Information Act to obtain the internal note as well as copies of comments from many respondents.

"I find the fees are impossible for a limited income person," wrote one. "I have completed my assigned punishments long ago but no one in New Brunswick will hire me."

A single indigenous mother having trouble getting work because of her criminal record suggested some of the fee be deducted from a future paycheque. "I only want to live a positive life for my children and myself."

Wrote another respondent: "Cost of application is expensive for those on limited income, many of whom may be on disability."

The consultation led by the Parole Board of Canada is part of a sweeping Liberal review of Harper government changes that made people wait longer and pay more to obtain a pardon, which was renamed a record suspension.

The review comes as the Trudeau government moves to legalize recreational marijuana – an effort that has prompted calls to pardon the thousands of people saddled with a criminal record for personal pot use.

Read more: Criminal pardon fee a 'significant' barrier, feds told in consultation