We have recently been active in opposing the changes proposed by the Tory Government in Bill C23 regarding current Pardons rules. The current system WORKS, as evidenced by a 96% success rate of pardoned offenders NOT re-offending.
Below is a letter from Pardons Canada to the opposition parties regarding one specific clause of the bill which proposes changing the name from “Pardons” to “Record Suspension”:
Pardons Canada is a non-profit organization that helps thousands of Canadians navigate the process of obtaining a pardon. Pardons Canada is a resource to more than 5,400 government and community agencies and sees first-hand the benefit of Canada’s pardons system.
I am writing to you out of a concern I have with changes being proposed in Bill C-23B, the Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes Act. Not only will it be more difficult for people to obtain pardons but the proposed substitution of “record suspension” in place of a “pardon” will have a significant impact on the employment eligibility of thousands of Canadians who have already received pardons.
Most employers and volunteer organizations in Canada conduct local and/or federal criminal record searches before hiring. Discovery of a criminal record can negatively affect the chances of someone getting a job. Under the current system, employment applications, including forms within the Federal Public Service, ask prospective employees if they have a criminal record to which they have not received a pardon. If the proposed changes under Bill C-23B are accepted, one could conclude that employment applications will now ask if they have a criminal record to which they have not received a record suspension. The legislation states that pardons will not be granted in the future but does not speak to those who have already been pardoned in the current system.
This becomes an issue for the thousands of people who have received pardons as this terminology will no longer be recognized. According to the Parole Board of Canada, more than 400,000 Canadians have received pardons since 1970 and 96% of these pardons remain in force.
A provision needs to be included in the proposed legislation that would allow employment contracts to recognize both a record suspension as well as a previous pardon. An alternative could be to have the words “pardon” and “record suspension” carry the same meaning in the Act. This will ensure that those who were granted pardons prior to the implementation of Bill C-23B would not arbitrarily BE impacted from obtaining employment opportunities. Failing to accommodate this amendment will prove to be a serious employment impediment to the thousands of Canadians who have paid their debt to society and have demonstrated a commitment to obeying the law.
Bill C-23B is currently before the Standing Committee of Public Safety and National Security. There is a real opportunity to put forward an amendment that would resolve the issue and ensure that those with previous pardons are not discriminated against. As an active member of the committee, I would very much like an opportunity to speak with you about this issue. I will be in touch with your office to make arrangements for a telephone conversation.
If you have any questions regarding this topic or about Pardons and US Entry Waivers email us at [email protected] or call 1-877-929-6011.