The short answer is regular and premium.
A regular check will query only convictions for a criminal or other federal offence. This is an entry-level check that’s a good starting point for a basic employee-screening program.
Employers hiring into sensitive roles – such as positions of trust for money, property, security, and confidential information or data – may want to consider a premium check, which searches criminal record entries for both convicted offences and non-conviction-related information.
When the check is completed, the applicant will receive an authentic Canadian Police Certificate that indicates either a “negative” or an “incomplete” result.
A “negative” result means no relevant records were found in the national criminal record database that match, or are closely similar to, the applicant’s name and birthday. An “incomplete” result means a record was found in the database that belongs to a person whose personal information matches – or is closely similar to – the information provided by the applicant.
For cases where the found record is relevant, the applicant can simply make a declaration and consent to the police confirming this information to the employer through CLEANSLATE Pardons. However, CLEANSLATE Pardons and its police partner will not release specific information about types of convictions and charges on the basis of a name and date-of-birth query.
A criminal record – also called a fingerprint sheet (FPS) – generally includes convictions under a federal Act, such as the Criminal Code of Canada, as well as information about federal charges that did not result in convictions. Any pardoned convictions (now known as a record suspension) are kept separate and apart from other criminal records and their existence is not normally disclosed to any person.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) manages the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC), which maintains the database of all criminal records in Canada. CLEANSLATE Pardons’ police partner will query the CPIC database by using the applicant’s full legal name and date of birth. These searches also typically include any other names used by the applicant and all addresses where the applicant has lived up to the past five years.
A vulnerable sector search (VSS) is the most intrusive type of criminal record check. And for good reason.
They are used to screen workers and volunteers who, in the performance of their duties, will be responsible for the well-being of a vulnerable person. The law defines a vulnerable person as someone who, because of their age, a disability, or other temporary or permanent circumstances, is in a position of dependency on others or is otherwise at greater risk than the general population of being harmed by a person in a position of trust or authority towards them.
A VSS will typically query all entries in a person’s criminal record, just like the premium check offered by CLEANSLATE Pardons. However, it may also indicate any outstanding charges still before the courts as well as local police records not stored by CPIC, such as incident reports concerning theft, weapons, sex offences – and violent, harmful or threatening behaviour that did not result in charges.
Perhaps most notably, a VSS queries the presence of certain sex-offence convictions that were pardoned (now known as a record suspension).
There are privacy concerns about the sensitivity of this information because pardoned convictions are effectively “sealed away” and cannot be disclosed to any person without ministerial approval. As such, the Criminal Records Act imposes strict limits on when an employer or volunteer organization can request a vulnerable sector search.
It is important to note that not every position involving contact with a vulnerable person will meet these requirements. In fact, to be eligible for a vulnerable sector search, the role must put the paid worker or volunteer in a position of trust or authority towards the vulnerable person. Further, the search must be requested by the person or organization responsible for the well-being of the vulnerable person – and only upon receiving an application for a paid or volunteer position. The applicant must consent, in writing, to the verification and disclosure of search results.
Getting a job offer can be a life-changing moment. But most offers are for a limited-time only and come with an important string attached – a clean criminal record check.
Employers don’t want to wait weeks to know what you already know. They get impatient. Because time is money. And you’re not making them any cash while you’re sidelined waiting for a criminal check to be completed. Miss the offer deadline and risk being passed over for the next qualified candidate.
Can you afford to take that risk?
After all, you too want to get working as quickly as possible. There are bills to pay … fun to be bought … and … well … more bills to pay. But you won’t be earning a paycheque until your new boss is satisfied that you’re trustworthy and credible. And simply saying you are won’t cut it – it’s a classic case of show-me-don’t-tell-me.
In fact, criminal record checks are just as essential to the hiring process as interviews, cover letters, and resumes nowadays. CLEANSLATE Pardons understands that speed is everything when a job is on the line. That’s why we obtain record checks for our clients in a matter of hours. Yes, hours. Not days … not weeks.
So give us a call when you need a criminal record check done. Because when that need arises, it will be urgent. And you can’t afford to wait.
CLEANSLATE Pardons is available for same-day appointments at any reasonable hour on weekdays and weekends.
Persons convicted of serious crimes have extra work to do when completing their record suspension applications.
Aside from having to wait an extra five years to become eligible for a record suspension, applicants with convictions for indictable offences must also show that having their criminal records suspended will provide a measurable benefit.
So what exactly is a measurable benefit? Parole Board of Canada policy provides half-a-dozen examples. These include: obtaining employment and/or education; securing a residence (or otherwise improving living conditions); removing the stigma associated with a criminal record; enabling social or personal improvements (such as building self-confidence); and achieving financial stability.
Applicants who include as many of these benefits as possible in their submissions are giving parole board decision makers lots of good reasons to render a favourable decision. But just listing them out is likely to have little impact. Instead, consider speaking to them in ways that are relevant to your real-life situation. As well, you can (and should) provide documentation to substantiate the benefit you would receive from having your criminal record sealed.
For instance, you could identify in your submission that a record suspension would help you obtain stable employment. But even better, you could personalize this statement by identifying a specific employment prospect. Best practice would be to provide a letter from an employer that confirms the job opportunity.
When you’re applying for a Canadian record suspension, it’s really, really important to substantiate the examples you use to demonstrate you’re deserving of a favourable decision.
This is because parole board decision makers do not have to take you at your word.
In fact, the Criminal Records Act gives the Parole Board of Canada “exclusive jurisdiction and absolute discretion to order, refuse to order or revoke a record suspension” (or pardon). And board policy puts the onus on the applicant to obtain documentation that provides “adequate, reliable, relevant and verifiable information.”
For instance, let’s say you indicate in your record suspension application that you’ve been volunteering in the community for the past five years since you completed your sentence. You might substantiate this claim with a reference letter from the volunteer organization(s) you’ve helped out. That letter could indicate your tenure as a volunteer, the roles you filled and the benefit the community received as a result of your efforts.
While it’s not mandatory to take this added step as part of the record suspension application process, it might help influence the amount of weight a parole board appointee places on your claims when considering whether to order (or refuse to order) a record suspension in your case.
The laws dealing with Canadian record suspensions are in the Criminal Records Act. One of these laws establish “good conduct” as the primary test that the Parole Board of Canada will consider when reviewing applications.
Board policy defines good conduct as behaviour that’s consistent with, and demonstrates, a law-abiding lifestyle. The parole board takes this very seriously and employs a team of well-trained investigators who will access all sorts of police records when looking into an applicant’s background.
The types of things they’ll be looking for are any post-conviction incidents that show a pattern of behaviour that is not law-abiding. This can be any negative behaviour that attracted the attention of police or the courts, regardless of whether any charges or fines resulted. Behaviour that’s consistent with the nature of the convictions on the applicant’s criminal record will attract extra scrutiny and could be given more weight in the final decision.
For example, a recent speeding ticket or multiple traffic offences over a period of time could be highly relevant to a criminal record involving driving-related convictions. Public intoxication or having open alcohol in a public place could be viewed very negatively when reviewing an application involving convictions for driving while impaired.
Applicants would be well-served to remember that even seemingly casual contact with police can be documented and show up in databases queried by parole board investigators. These interactions are important to address in the application because case law supports the board’s obligation to consider a wide range of relevant, reliable evidence in making its decisions.
Even withdrawn, stayed, dismissed or acquitted charges are fair game as are peace bonds and discharges.
In the end, any information that serves as an indicator of the applicant’s lifestyle and associations can be given weight in the board’s decision and cause that member to refuse to order a record suspension.
So, what’s in a name?
Pardons and record suspensions are certainly different terms. However, they essentially mean the same thing because they have the same effect.
The term “pardon” was replaced by “record suspension” in March 2012. This change was one of several to the Criminal Records Act — the legal reference point for all-things-pardon.
Other changes to those laws included longer waiting periods to apply and more restrictive eligibility criteria.
For example, if you’re convicted of a less serious crime (called a “summary” offence), the Parole Board of Canada cannot consider you for a record suspension until five years have passed from the time your sentence ends. To calculate your waiting period, simply add 60 months to the date your prison sentence ended, your probation period was completed or you paid you fine in full.
If you’re convicted of a more serious crime (called an “indictable” offence), you’ll be waiting twice as long (yes, a whole decade) to become eligible for a Canadian record suspension.
However, if your criminal record includes three or more serious-type offences, and if each of them resulted in a sentence of two or more years, you’re permanently out of luck because you’re now ineligible for a record suspension under the new law.
Also ineligible (with certain exceptions) are people who have convictions for sexual offences against minors.