Cornwall police record checks not affected by Ontario changes

In this Oct. 13, 2015, file photo, Cornwall Deputy Police Chief Danny Aikman and Chief Dan Parkinson address a police board meeting. Parkinson says provincial changes to criminal background checks won't affect their procedures. (Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL – The process for criminal background checks is not expected to change in Cornwall despite some changes at the provincial level.

On Tuesday, the Ontario government passed the Record Checks Reform Act, which will limit the types of information released and will standardize disclosure practices. The province took the step in order to, what it calls, remove barriers to employment and promote fairness.

More specifically, non-conviction and non-criminal records, such as mental health information, won’t be disclosed.

The records are usually required for job-seekers entering work in positions of trust as well as members of boards, committees and other organizations dealing with youth.

But Police Chief Dan Parkinson told Cornwall Newswatch that information has never been disclosed before.

“Our practice here with respect to releasing information, dealing with mental health issues, along with a background check is something we just don’t do,” Parkinson said. “I see that as a a privacy issue, always have seen that as a privacy issue.”

Parkinson said a local background check can “sometimes” reveal “suicide attempts and things like that” but it’s not something that’s included in the report. “We never give that out, we never have,” Parkinson said.

With the standardized disclosure practices, the record is now reviewed by the person before its released of a requesting third party.

“I think we’ve always provided that background check to the prospective employee who then has a decision, do they take that to the prospective employer or not? If the person doesn’t go to the employer with that background check, they can apparently hazard a guess that there’s something in there that made them unsuitable for employment.”

The police service “rarely if ever” sends background checks to an employer, the chief said.

The Cornwall Community Police Service has processed 12,521 background checks to date in 2015. They cost anywhere from $16.95 to $33.90 depending on the type of check.

The checks generate nearly a quarter million dollars in revenue for the police service.

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