Are Criminal Record Checks Becoming too Costly and Invasive?

By 24 September 2014June 23rd, 2022No Comments

We all know that having a criminal record can, among other things, prevent you from getting a job, travelling out of the country, registering for school and/or volunteering. But what most people don’t know is the extent that the criminal background checks are beginning to affect the lives of more and more Canadians. Including their privacy and pocketbook.

Job Application Delays

  • We wrote previously about a CBC report on the average three-week wait time for a criminal record check for job applicants in Iqualuit. It’s a timespan that proves too long for some applicants who need to find worker sooner and go elsewhere to do so.
  • The delays are due to an unprecedented increase in criminal background checks in the past few years. In some cases, police forces across the country face triple-digit percentage increases in the numbers of background check requests they receive each year.
  • And the delays are not just caused by criminal record checks due to job applications.

Volunteers Charged for Criminal Background Checks

  • Who would ever think you would have to pay to be a volunteer? Toronto Police Services (TPS) already charge a $15 fee to volunteers who need a Vulnerable Sector Screening (VSS) check. With the prospect of another wave of check requests due to the 2015 Pan Am games and the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championship, TPS has asked to increase the fee to $20.
  • If you need and VSS check for employment, you may be facing a $65 fee if the TPS fee increases are approved by city council.

Disclosing Personal Information

  • How Much is Too Much? – In British Columbia, the BC Freedom of Information & Privacy Association has asked the province’s privacy commissioner to review the nature of the questions asked by some police departments during criminal background checks for volunteers.
  • Applicants for volunteer positions at the Delta Police Department reported being required to fill out a 25-page form that included questions about their sexual activity, drug use, finances and if they were ever unemployed or on welfare. They were also required to take a polygraph test.
  • As the definition of ‘vulnerable sectors’ continues to affect more roles and positions, and a background check becomes a requirement on more job applications, the volume of checks will only continue to increase – and become more costly for all Canadians.


The Toronto Star
The Vancouver Sun

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