CBA seeks action on disclosure of non-conviction records

  • September 30, 2020

The Black Lives Matter protests of the last few months have raised awareness of myriad inequities faced by Black, Indigenous and People of Colour with respect to their treatment by the police and justice systems. For example, light has been shone again on the fact that BIPOC individuals are far more likely to be stopped and questioned by police.

The way police treat the records of those interviews, even when the person questioned was not charged, could have an impact on that person’s future employment, housing or participation in civic activities like volunteering for certain organizations – essentially the person’s access to anything that requires a records check.

That’s why the Canadian Bar Association is adding its support to the Uniform Law Conference of Canada’s Uniform Police Record Checks Act.

“In the CBA’s view, the UPCRA is critical legislation that should be seriously considered by all governments in Canada,” the CBA says in a letter to the ULCC president. “It is now well established that disclosure of non-conviction information has harmful effects, particularly on those from marginalized communities who disproportionately interact with the police. The unnecessary disclosure of non-conviction information can create huge subsequent barriers to employment, housing, government benefits and other important aspects of day-to-day life.”

In 2019 the CBA passed a resolution calling on governments at all levels to adopt or amend policies limiting disclosure of non-conviction information that is held in police databases. It has created a resource to help members reach out to provincial governments to encourage them to change their disclosure policies and legislation.

The ULCC is a government-supported organization that works to modernize and harmonize federal, provincial and territorial laws and considers proposals to reform criminal laws. The Act seeks to standardize the types of criminal record checks that may be provided, place limits on the disclosure of non-conviction records, and create procedural protections such as an ability to correct inaccurate information and challenge irrelevant information disclosed in records checks.