There are many barriers associated to having a criminal record in Canada. For the 4.2 million Canadians who have one or more criminal convictions, the issues associated to having a record are a part of their everyday reality.
These persons have to juggle the daily demands of life, while managing the hardship associated to having a criminal conviction.
Although criminal records are established as a safety measure to further ensure the security and safety of the general public and public servants, a criminal record can negatively impact many aspects of individuals’ lives.
Even those who have made one mistake or have convictions from decades earlier, can find themselves experiencing obstacles in life in relation to their past.
The general barriers associated to a record are commonly known, however, there are roadblocks from having a record that are much less apparent.
- Employment/Temporary work
One of the most notable areas impacted by having a criminal record is in respects to employment. As an increasing number of employers are requiring background checks, it can be increasingly difficult to find employment with a criminal history.
Furthermore, these individuals commonly experience feelings of being forced or pressured into disclosing their criminal history in hopes of obtaining employment.
Once employment is obtained, it can still be difficult to advance and move up within a company when one has a record. Higher level positions may become unattainable for many persons, regardless of the time or dedication they put towards their position.
Interestingly, many individuals also have difficulty obtaining temporary work abroad with a criminal record. Many countries deny entry to those with even one criminal conviction.
Furthermore, those with criminal records will experience difficulties when traveling over to the United States. A U.S. waiver must be obtained prior to travelling over to the States to ensure ease of travel.
However, this is not only limited to the States. Many other countries, including Australia, have restrictions associated to those traveling with a record. These restrictions are generally dependent on the severity or frequency of offences.
Similar to Travel, immigration opportunities can be hindered by having one or more criminal convictions.
Under Canadian immigration laws, having a criminal record may make you criminally inadmissible to immigrate to Canada. This may occur regardless of how minor or serious the offence may be.
Similarly, the United States and United Kingdom have comparable immigration laws.
- Education/study visa
Certain educational programs require applicants to provide a background check prior to their acceptance. These measures are in place for specific programs, as these programs are geared toward professional occupations that require a clear record.
These programs are most commonly professions that work with vulnerable populations, including children, animals and the elderly.
- Professional occupations/licenses
Similarly, many professional occupations, including those that encompass working with vulnerable populations, can refuse a license to practice if the individual has a record. These professions including, nurses, social workers, acupuncturists, lawyers, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, engineers and architects.
These measures are put in place to manage the risk associated to working with vulnerable persons.
- Volunteering/ Board of Directors
A significant number of volunteer agencies and charities work with vulnerable populations. As such, these agencies deny individuals who have a criminal record, especially in cases where the offences could, in anyway, impact the safety and security of the population being served.
Applying for a position on a Board of Directors can also be impacted by a criminal history. As these position have a high amount of responsibility and control over an agencies assets, companies and agencies may require record checks from members.
Although many assume that insurance coverage would not have any connection to a criminal record, there are an increasing number of insurance companies across the world that are denying applicants with criminal records.
In Canada, many car insurance companies will increase rates or deny drivers who have been convicted of impaired driving charges for up to three years after their conviction.
This inability or difficulty in obtaining car insurance can negatively impact other areas of an individual’s life (e.g., obtaining or maintaining employment).
While it is currently illegal for employers to discriminate applicants on the basis of a criminal record, there are no such measures in place for landlords.
Therefore, an individual can be refused housing if they have a criminal record if the landlord chooses to do so.
Persons with a criminal record may also experience substantial roadblocks when attempting to adopt a child. Many adoption agencies will require a background check from potential applicants.
Although these policies are put in place for the protection and welfare of the child, this may present issues for individuals convicted of minor offences or persons who have fully reintegrated themselves back into the community.
- Obtaining a Liquor License/ Purchasing a Franchise
Individuals interested in obtaining a liquor license for their business establishment are also required to obtain a criminal record check with their application. In addition, the resident manager and all other stakeholders are required to obtain a criminal record check as well.
Those with criminal records are not immediately denied a license, however, the circumstances, charges and offences are carefully considered and can hinder an application.
Additionally, franchise businesses can require a criminal record check from franchisees, which can also hinder their application.
Fortunately, there are measures put in place that allow individuals with a criminal history to put their past behind them and fully move past their record. A record suspension and U.S. waiver allows individuals to surpass many of these issues, making it so that they are not held back by their past.