Beginning Nov. 30, 2013, organizations in B.C.'s volunteer and non-profit sector will be eligible for free criminal record checks for their volunteers who work with children and vulnerable adults.
Simultaneous changes to the provincial criminal records review program will:
- Allow more efficient sharing of current, verified criminal record checks among groups in the sector, saving them time and paperwork.
- Provide volunteers and publicly funded employees with more mobility in the sector, since they will be able to consent to sharing verified checks with more than one organization.
- Give businesses and for-profit enterprises an opportunity to access existing record checks of new employees who consent to the sharing of them, thereby eliminating the cost of a redundant check. This will apply for checks completed within the past five years for which there was no determination of risk.
For the volunteer and non-profit sector, the free checks will provide an added incentive to opt into the program. Groups in the provincial program will have access to its adjudication process, which provides expert, consistent risk assessment when a check does identify a criminal record containing relevant offences.
B.C. is a leader in protecting children and vulnerable adults. In 2011, it became the only Canadian province to require criminal record checks of employees working with vulnerable adults, including those at risk of abuse or exploitation due to their age, frailty or disability. At that time, B.C. was already the only province with a broad program to require criminal record reviews of people applying for jobs with unsupervised access to children.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton -
"These changes are about relieving cost and time pressures for many volunteer and non-profit organizations so they can focus on delivering great services and programs. Many leading groups in the sector asked for relief from the costs of criminal record checks for their volunteers, and we're making it happen because it's absolutely the right thing to do - for volunteerism in B.C., for the organizations and for the safety of those they serve."
ViaSport British Columbia CEO Cathy Priestner Allinger -
"The efficiency, cost-effectiveness and due diligence embodied in the provincial approach is great for a volunteer-driven sector like sport. We absolutely need to take steps to ensure that the children and youth who participate in sport are in safe hands. The provincial program helps us with that, and also helps streamline our ability to recruit and train volunteers for coaching, refereeing and other valuable leadership positions. As well, the increased efficiency to obtain an existing criminal record check for volunteers who have already gone through the process, but are new to sport, will be an added bonus."
Chris Merritt, treasurer and acting president, Killarney Youth Soccer Association -
"Many children's sports organizations are run on volunteer enthusiasm and extremely tight budgets, so the government's willingness to cover the cost of criminal record checks is a significant benefit to us. The access to expert adjudication when those checks do turn up problematic offences will also help children's sports by ensuring that qualified people will help protect the integrity of the process and provide peace of mind to the parents and guardians who entrust us with their children and teens."
- The fee and record-sharing changes follow related amendments to the Criminal Records Review Act last spring.
- To ensure the record check program continues to operate on a full cost-recovery basis, the cost for an employee record check will rise to $28 from $20 - equivalent to $1.60 more per year over the five-year life of a check. This increase is the first for the program since 2004.
- B.C.'s volunteer-based and non-profit agencies retain the freedom to have their local police or RCMP detachment conduct criminal record checks, or to conduct other appropriate screening to ensure client safety. However, fees for these checks outside the provincial program will not be covered by government.
- In 2011, the provincial program provided nearly 200,000 checks of employees, while B.C. police agencies reported conducting about 80,000 for volunteers.
- B.C. workers required to have criminal record checks include health professionals, teachers, and employees at licensed care facilities.
More information on the provincial records review program is at: www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/criminal-records-review/
The Criminal Records Review Act is online at: www.bclaws.ca/EPLibraries/bclaws_new/document/ID/freeside/00_96086_01
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice