LEARN Guidelines Q&A

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Q: When will the form change for the Police Vulnerable Sector Check (PVSC)?

A: We are working on that at the moment. Currently we are attaching a second page which is a letter that explains what we are and aren't doing on the form.

Q: Years ago when the Privacy Act came out, we were told that the original copy of the Criminal Record check belonged to the owner - the employer can keep a copy but not keep the original. Is this true?  If so, can we provide some education to employers around this?

A: It is the applicant's information. If the applicant hands over the original then that is their choice - but the applicant should take a copy if they choose to do that. 

Q: Regarding workload, as of September 1 2015 the Ministry of Education has changed the requirements for record checks for ECEs (Early Childhood Educators) working in licensed child care facilities - they now need a record check done every 5 years.   Is the OPS aware of this and ready for the 1000s of people who are going to need a record check done for Sept 1 2015?

A:   We were not aware of this.  Applicants should be encouraged to submit their request in as soon as possible in order to meet this deadline from the Ministry of Education.

Q: The SPCA (Society for the prevention of cruelty to animals) only requires a basic Criminal Records Check, but when our volunteers go to get it they are told they need a vulnerable sector check - but they are never alone with anyone from the vulnerable sector.  Is there something else we should have in our request letter to explain this?

A: When the applicant applies, often the information is garnered through questions from the front desk - it might be that potential volunteers say they'll be taking animals into seniors homes and aren't clear that they won't be alone with anyone, which would then require a Police Vulnerable Sector Check (PVSC). We can talk more about this.

Q:  Would you please explain more about what the terms Absolute Discharges and Non-Conviction records mean?

A: Absolute Discharge: a court disposition where the accused is not convicted but is found guilty of an offence and is discharged with no conditions.  These records will be released for 1 year from disposition date.

Conditional Discharge:  a court disposition where the accused is not convicted but found guilty of an offence and is discharged with conditions.  These records will be released for three years from the disposition date. 

Q: To clarify, if someone was acquitted of a sexual offence, will that show or will the record come back clean?

A: Yes the record will show 'Acquitted'.

Q: When the online checks become available, will there still be the option for our volunteers to not pay for it?

A: The fee structure will be determined by the Board at a meeting in September. There is nothing in this that will go against the agreement made 20 years ago between the OPS and NGOs for free checks, but that will be confirmed by the Board.

Q: For changes, when you are talking about a second page, is that regardless of results? 

A: Yes

Q: Often we're looking for the stamp/seal on the original - is that being considered for the online offering?

A: Yes, there are ways of authenticating the original that are being considered.

Q: I have volunteers coming in for Level 1 and Level 2 checks. Would you give me scenarios for when you'd use each of these?

A: Level 1 is used primarily for Immigration and visa. Level 2 would be used for judicial orders not requiring a border crossing or visa.

Q: In the LEARN (Law Enforcement and Records Managers Network) Guidelines are there definitions of these terms?

A: Yes, there is a glossary section in the guidelines that defines all the terms used.

Q: One of the best things to date in the checks was that we had access to someone at Ottawa Police Service regarding questions we had. Can we still consult with someone from police services about which is the best check to use? For example I work with museums. Volunteers don't work with the public, so what is necessary?

A: There are 2 avenues by which you can get support on questions:

Would it be helpful if we set up a week for you to come in and get advice on what checks are best to use for your particular business model?  (Nods from the audience). Ok, we'll take that back.

Q: A few years ago we were given a breakdown of who should receive each level of check. Do we need to review this now that the levels are different?

A: Level 1 is now really just for immigration purposes. So you will usually need levels 2 or 3 now.  As an example, custodial staff at a school needs a Police Vulnerable Sector Check PVSC (Level 3), whereas people who go in to do repairs in the building and don't contact the children only need the PIC (Level 2).

Q: So I can say that essentially the Criminal Record Check is now replaced by the PIC (Police Information Check)?

A: Yes

Q: Is there a cost difference?

A: The fee structure will be reviewed at a Board meeting in September and finalized then, so as of now we don't know.

Q: Are you still offering the expedited police check for the vulnerable sector?

A: Yes, at Queensview.

Q: The local records, can you please explain that more with an example?

A: For example, a local record might show that someone could be a subject or suspect of a criminal investigation.  In a local record, you'd see the officer's notes, victim statements, witness statements, officers' statements, etc. Now police sometimes have contacts with people that don't result in a criminal conviction - e.g. kids in a park at night. That may in end up in a local record of contact. Contacts are not a big deal until you see for example 10 of them. That will no longer be released.

The decision is a balance between a person's right to private information and the social good.

This is the first time we're putting in a policy across the province - it's mindful of being correct, it's not as fulsome in some areas, but at the end of the day every Ontarian will get the same check.

Q: The NGO (non-governmental organization) community wants an opportunity to voice our comments before the police board has the meeting to discuss the costing structure - we want to make sure we are not penalized. 

A: There will certainly be several opportunities to input as part of the budget process. There isn't anything in here that counteracts the decision made 20 yrs. ago for a joint service offering.  The issue is more if something else in the budget changes.

Q: Does this apply to Drinking and Driving?

A: Drinking and driving usually results in a conviction, and convictions will show up.

Q: Regarding the timeline for transitions, can we still use the front desks?

A: You can drop the applications off at any front desk, but it will be sent to Queensview to process.

Q: How does this relate to Fingerprinting?

A: Regarding fingerprinting: if someone's gender and Date of Birth (DOB) matches someone else's gender and DOB who has a sex offence, they have to come in and be fingerprinted to prove they are not that person. It's a 10 minute process.

Q: So for Non-Conviction - Exceptional Disclosure, do they have to have been charged?

A: Yes. Non-conviction means there was a charge, but it wasn't a conviction. There's a narrow group of codes that can be searched and if there's a pattern, that person will qualify for a PVSC.

Q: I get what you're saying about the safety of the community, but isn't this a violation of civil liberties? There's a presumption of innocence in our justice system.

A: It's a critical issue you've identified - it makes me think this will come up in the legislation. The Privacy Commission recommended the discussion, as did the John Howard Society. But Non-Conviction has come forward in Level 3 of the legislation. OPS have never gone there before.  I think we can work together as a group and see if the language is either helping or hurting (as it can do both). Maybe we need to meet together in the fall sometime and work on some of these issues.

Q: At what point do I tell my volunteers not to go to a detachment with their letter?

A: When we go online in 2016.

Q: So I have a volunteer who is also a paid broker. Should I do a Level 3 but tick off non-volunteer?

A: Someone can cross over from volunteer to non-volunteer at any time, it only matters what you are at the moment you're applying. The check itself is the same, it's only the associated fee that changes (free for a volunteer).

Q: Staff in long-term care facilities - are they automatically a Level 3?

A: Yes they are, we follow the Long Term Care Act.

Q: Regarding fingerprinting again - more and more of the PVSC (Police Vulnerable Sector check) checks are requiring fingerprinting. Is there a thought to getting more staff time at Queensview?  7:30am to 3:00pm is not convenient for most people.

A: I'm getting the data on whether or not it's actually increased. It's becoming something you can do quite easily in the public and private sectors - we want to leverage this. We are envisaging a different environment in which we carry out fingerprinting so that it's less onerous than now, as opposed to more staff time.

Q: We have volunteers and staff that need to go to the OPP (Ontario Police) for their checks (as we are based on the edge of Ottawa and have a lot of rural residents) - are they also adopting this process?

A: Yes, but they may not be following the complete LEARN Guidelines yet.

Q: Are fingerprints kept or destroyed?

A: Fingerprinting is a 'Point in Time' search, so after the search they are destroyed.

Q: I get a number of volunteer applicants from the Quebec side. Do you know if those police services are offering the same model?

A: Quebec residents often volunteer in Ontario. Ask them to apply for their check in Ottawa if they want to volunteer in Ottawa. We are currently doing this as a service/favour to the Gatineau side. They will only do the checks for people who are volunteering in Gatineau - so we have been doing it for them.

Q: Regarding Youth: We have a lot of students who want to do their 40 hours. I'm always wondering at the usefulness of having them to Criminal Record Checks if none of the offences can be disclosed.

A: The vulnerable piece isn't applicable because they won't have any pardoned sex offences - they won't have met the timeframes. So a PIC (level 2) might be best.

Q: For people who've been in Canada less than 5 years, do they qualify for a records check?

A: Yes, but we can only check in Canada - we can't look at their records outside of Canada, so keep that in mind.

Q: For people coming to volunteer who live in other parts of Canada - where do they go for the check?

A: Normally you would go in the jurisdiction in which you currently reside. So if they are coming from Alberta, they should do the check in Alberta (AB).

Q:  Is it the same timeframe to get a PIC (Level 2) done as for the current (Criminal Record) CR?

A: Yes, same day service for both Level 1 and Level 2.

Q: You've mentioned if someone gets a hit - do they get a print out of that?

A: No, they won't get a description of what they were convicted for.

Q: With the Level 3 check, is there a time limit on how far you're going back?

A: Yes, 5 years.

Q: For Drinking & Driving charges, just confirming they do not show up on non-convictions if there isn't a conviction.

A: Correct.

Q: We have programs of youth mentoring youth. Now I'm seeing the (Police Vulnerable Sector Check) PVSC is not applying to youth - that was what we asked for.

A: It used to, but now the local records are not disclosed. So now the most useful check for you is likely level 2.

Q: Now the 2014 LEARN Guidelines will trump. So no matter what other police services disclose to you, you will only disclose information to us according to the LEARN Guidelines?

A: Yes, correct.

Q: Are criminal charges not federal? So if someone was convicted in Saskatchewan that would show up?

A: Yes, that is correct.