John Howard Society of Ontario welcomes new provincial police record check legislation

Posted
June 3, 2015

From a news release from the John Howard Society of Ontario: For over a decade, the John Howard Society of Ontario (JHSO) has been raising concerns about the disclosure of non-conviction information on police record checks.

Routinely, through police record checks, police have disclosed information about non-criminal and non-conviction interactions with Ontarians. Though most don't realize it, simply calling 9-1-1 for help during a mental health crisis can trigger a police report. So too can being stopped and questioned about a robbery in your neighbourhood. Revealing these non-criminal interactions through requested police record checks has had devastating consequences.

"The disclosure of non-conviction information is not an innocent practice. It strikes at the heart of our cherished legal presumption of innocence. It has also destroyed the hopes of countless people for jobs, housing, volunteering and education," states Jacqueline Tasca, Policy Analyst at the Centre of Research, Policy & Program Development at JHSO. "We have researched and documented the harm this practice has inflicted on Ontarians, many of whom are vulnerable and voiceless. As a result, we called for legislation."

The introduction of legislation to regulate police record checks and the disclosure of non-conviction information in Ontario is welcome: "Today’s legislation is so important. Thousands of Ontarians have non-conviction records and don’t even know it. Nor would they until it is far too late. We applaud and wholeheartedly support the government’s initiative," says Tasca. "Though today is but the first step in the legislative process, it signals a tremendous step forward for all Ontarians, who have or could face discrimination, stigmatization and exclusion arising from the release of non-conviction records."

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