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Reviewing Bill C-10 3 Years Later

While it was passed three years ago, Bill C-10 jumped back into spotlight recently after news stories revealed that the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) could no longer dedicate resources to reducing the backlog of pardon applications it has on file.

The Bill, introduced and passed by the federal Conservatives in 2012 after serial sex offender Graham James was granted a criminal record pardon in 2007, is blamed for the backlog.

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But the backlog is just one of the hurdles that Bill C-10 created for criminal record holders, who now must deal with new guidelines and restrictions resulting in the following:

1. Confusion

From the moment it was first introduced, as part of the Criminal Records Act of 1970, a criminal record pardon was referred to as a ‘pardon’ or ‘Canadian pardon’. Bill C-10 changed the name to ‘record suspension’, which caused significant confusion among those seeking a record suspension who weren’t sure if a differences existed between a “pardon” and a “record suspension”.

2. Extra Cost

Bill C-10 increased the cost of applying for a pardon (record suspension). From 1994 to 2010, the pardon application processing fee was $50. In 2010, the fee was increased 300% to $150. Then, two years later, just as applicants were adjusting to the higher costs, Bill C-10 pumped up the application fee another 400%. In all, the cost of filing a pardon application rose from $50 at the beginning of 2010 to $631 before the end of 2012 – an increase of over 1200%.

3. Longer Wait Times

The period of ineligibility for record suspensions following the completion of sentences were increased to 5 years for summary offences and 10 years for indictable offences.

While the PBC says it will address the current backlog of pardon applications as time and money permit, a CBC report on the story says the backlog of almost 6,000 applications leaves “thousands of former offenders in legal limbo” and that some applicants have been told their files, including their $150 application fee, are effectively dead.

Sources:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/parole-board-says-no-more-funding-to-clear-pardon-application-backlog-1.2996503