British Columbia is the only province in Canada which currently has a legislative program requiring people who work with children or vulnerable adults in publicly funded or regulated sectors to undergo a criminal record check.

The Provincial government recently introduced proposed amendments to the Criminal Records Review Act in Bill 11 (Criminal Records Review Amendment Act, 2013). According to Minister Shirley Bond who introduced the Bill, the amendments support volunteers and non-profit organizations who work with children and vulnerable adults by providing them with free criminal record checks and reducing the number of checks that may be required.

The proposed amendments, if passed, would add a “criminal record check verification” process permitting employees and volunteers of specified organizations to register and retain a “portable criminal record check”, resulting in a check only having to be completed once every 5 years. Employees would provide employers with authorization to verify their criminal record check. To meet their obligations under the Act, authorized employers need only verify that the employee has had a portable criminal record check completed.

Specified organizations include government agencies, municipalities, school boards and non-profit organizations, among others. In order to use the criminal record check verification process, each organization must apply for and maintain registration under the Act.

The amendments would make the use of the new process optional, and employers could continue to use the regular records check process. The amendments would also make the payment of fees optional.

According to Minister Bond:

…Those who opt into the government's program will receive free criminal record checks and risk assessments of persons who have a relevant criminal record. Additional amendments will allow both volunteers and those already covered by the Act to share their criminal record check results between agencies. This portability will streamline the criminal record check process while continuing to ensure that our vulnerable sector is protected.

Bill 11 will undergo a second reading in the House at the next sitting.