Supporting Volunteers Under the Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015
Bill or Act:
Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015
Summary of Proposal:
Supporting volunteers is a priority for Ontario as volunteers make significant contributions that enhance the province's communities and economy. Police record checks (PRCs) often form part of background screening requirements for persons who wish to apply for or continue volunteer roles.
Amendments are being proposed to the Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015 (PRCRA) that would:
Set a definition of "volunteer" to clarify the eligibility for supports under the PRCRA:
o "Volunteer" means a person who performs a service but who receives no compensation for doing so other than an allowance for expenses or an honorarium and excludes a person receiving some other form of credit such as academic credit or fulfilling a sentence requirement.
Require police services to conduct and provide the results of Criminal Record Checks (CRCs) and Criminal Record and Judicial Matters Checks (CRJMCs) for volunteers at no charge and provide up to five free copies of the results (if requested at the time of the initial request).
Expand the Lieutenant Governor in Council's regulation-making authority to prescribe:
o Requirements for how police services will conduct police record checks for volunteers.
o How long a police record check for a volunteer for a prescribed purpose could be relied upon.
Additionally, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing would file consequential regulatory amendments (https://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/view.do?postingId=39167&language=en) to the fee and charges regulations under the Municipal Act, 2001 (O. Reg. 584/06, www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/060584) and to the City of Toronto Act, 2006 (O. Reg. 595/06, www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/060595) which would remove municipal and local board powers to charge fees for the services that the proposed amendments to the PRCRA would make free of charge.
Analysis of Regulatory Impact:
The estimated total annual savings for volunteers across Ontario is from $0.3 million (waiving the fee for the initial check) to less than $1.0 million (waiving the fee for the initial check and five copies).
The impact of the proposal to individual municipalities would depend on demand (volume of PRCs requested) and fees of PRCs that are conducted for volunteers (which varies across municipal police services).
As such, the impact is expected to be low in municipalities if the demand for volunteer PRCs is low. Where municipal police services do not charge volunteers for PRCs, there would not be an impact.
Requiring police services to provide free copies of CRCs and CRJMCs to volunteers is also expected to reduce the number of requests for PRCs made by volunteers, which would reduce the administrative burden on police services.
Since the Ontario Provincial Police and a number of municipal police services already provide free PRCs for volunteers, the proposed amendments to the PRCRA, which would require police services to provide CRCs, CRJMCs and copies of the results at no charge would affect only some municipal police services. The proposed legislative amendment would not create a direct compliance cost for people or businesses to be paid to the Province.
It is estimated that CRCs and CRJMCs represent approximately 20% of all PRCs for volunteers conducted by municipal police services annually.
The benefits of the proposed amendments are expected to outweigh any potential impacts to municipal police services.
The economic value of volunteering in Ontario was estimated to be $17.7B in 2013 (www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=3610061801&pickMembers%5B0%5D=1.7), and in 2018, volunteers performed 612M hours of service in Ontario (www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=4510003901&pickMembers%5B0%5D=1.7&pickMembers%5B1%5D=2.1).
Reducing barriers to volunteering would help communities and organizations that rely on volunteers to recover from the impacts of the pandemic and support Ontario's post-COVID-19 recovery.
Providing CRCs, CRJMCs and copies to volunteers at no charge, is intended to reduce financial barriers and make it to easier for individuals to apply for multiple volunteering opportunities. It may also reduce the number of requests for police record checks made by volunteers, which would reduce the administrative burden on police record check providers.
Although eliminating these fees is expected to have a low impact on municipalities, reducing the cost of volunteering may significantly benefit individuals, especially disadvantaged people who are trying to improve their skills and experience through volunteering.
October 7, 2021
Comments Due Date:
November 21, 2021
Ministry of the Solicitor General, George Drew Bldg 9th Flr, 25 Grosvenor St, Toronto, ON M7A 1Y6