Clearing Your Criminal Record Starts by Understanding Record Suspension in Canada

By 4 June 2024June 17th, 2024No Comments
frustrated man at office looking at his system - Clearing Your Criminal Record Starts by Understanding Record Suspensions in Canada

How Pardon Applications of Canada Helps Unlock Opportunities 

by Fatema Danyal, Senior Associate at Pardon Applications of Canada

The Burden of a Criminal Record in Canada

The weight of a criminal record can be heavy, bringing various repercussions. In Canada, a Record Suspension can hinder employment opportunities, promotions, homeownership, and adoption. A “clear background check” is more essential in day-to-day life than one might imagine. Additionally, the societal stigma and one’s sense of self-worth are severely affected by a past criminal record. Thus, having a criminal record hampers personal growth and poses significant barriers to professional advancement.

Understanding the Canadian Criminal Records Act

The Canadian Criminal Records Act offers individuals with a criminal record who have demonstrated the willingness and effort to enrich their lives and leave their past behind an opportunity to “seal” their criminal records and separate them from other “visible” records. 1 This process, known as obtaining a Record Suspension (previously “Pardon”), is governed by the Parole Board of Canada. The objective of this process is to help mitigate the disadvantages of a past criminal record and allow a smooth reintegration into society. 2

The Importance of a Clear Background Check

As a society moves closer to the tenets of social justice and equity, it’s crucial to address the complexities of the record suspension process and provide support to individuals navigating through it. 3 Pardon Applications of Canada (PAC) 4 supports you and reduces the uncertainties in the process, which, although seemingly simple, comes with its own set of criteria. For example, when completing an eligibility check for prospective clients and during the application process for existing clients, we have interacted with many individuals who do not understand why they must wait for certain durations or why specific documents are essential to apply for a Record Suspension.

Real-Life Challenges in the Record Suspension Process

Take the case of an applicant who is currently a nursing student but wishes to apply for a record suspension to join a nursing agency and make progress with the spirit of helping more people in a better way. However, the discovery of a $50.00 unpaid fine during their application process acted as an insurmountable barrier, preventing them from realizing their dream for an extended period. 5 Surprisingly, such stories are quite common, which urges the need for additional assistance during the process, while some have even called for simplification of the process itself.

Legislative Efforts to Simplify Record Suspension

An example is the effort by Senator Kim Pate’s Bill S-212 6, which sought to streamline the process, reduce wait periods, and eliminate maximum costs associated with a Record Suspension application. Such efforts mark a significant step toward the future of the entire process. The federal government took a tangible and monetary step towards easing the process in 2022 by reducing their government filing fee once the application is completed & submitted from $657.77 to $50.00 7. Unfortunately, this is not the only fee required throughout the pardon process, but with the government filing fee reduced, more emphasis can be placed on the remaining barriers to application. This includes acquiring accurate fingerprinting, obtaining exact documents from both courts & police, calculating appropriate timelines and wait periods to ensure eligibility, and so on.

PAC’s Comprehensive Support System

This is where PAC really makes a difference, providing much-needed guidance and support to individuals navigating the system’s intricacies. With PAC, applicants have more confidence in the process, and should frustration arise, Officers of Pardon Applications of Canada are there to answer questions and find the most successful way forward. The goal, as always, is to maximize the chance of the application’s approval.

“This is where PAC really makes a difference, providing much-needed guidance and support to individuals navigating through the intricacies of the system.”

Fatema Danyal, Senior Associate at Pardon Applications of Canada

The Broader Impact of Record Suspensions on Society

We must also consider the broader economic and societal impact of a record suspension. By eliminating potential barriers to entering the workforce, one can contribute meaningfully to society and one’s own family unit. Achieving financial independence after major setbacks in life is a significant milestone. After all, isn’t that the point of the punitive and rehabilitative philosophy of punishment? Moreover, research has shown that the record suspension process can reduce recidivism rates, ultimately fostering safer and more inclusive communities.

Conclusion: A Brighter Future with Pardon Applications of Canada

In conclusion, the record suspension process’s aim and results are in the individual’s and society’s best interest. Given the complexity of the process, a concerted effort is required from both the applicant and PAC to achieve the best result, which would include a successful Record Suspension being awarded and a sense of peace of mind. By providing support and guidance to individuals navigating through the system, we can help alleviate the burdens of stigma and pave the way for a brighter future for all Canadians and residents.

Fatema Danyal, Pardon Applications of Canada
Fatema Danyal is a Senior Associate with Pardon Applications of Canada. She has a keen interest in Record Suspensions, contracts, and Intellectual Property law.




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