(PRWEB) July 30, 2013
According to an article by CBC News, posted July 17, 2013, the federal government has launched a new awareness campaign to help offenders with criminal records find jobs. The “Hiring an Offender” webpage on the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) website encourages employers looking for skilled labour to hire from within CSC’s pool of workers, who are available for both short and long-term employment.
But Pardon Services Canada, a company that provides Record Suspension and U.S. Entry Waiver application services to clients, believes that the new campaign contradicts conservative measures to keep offenders off the streets.
In March of 2012, Bill C-10, an omnibus crime bill titled the Safe Streets and Communities Act, was passed into law. Its passing introduced many fundamental changes to the pardon process, such as increasing the ineligibility period to apply for a record suspension from 3 to 5 years for a minor offence, and from 5 to 10 years for an indictable offence. The legislation also rendered certain offenders, such as those with three or more convictions for indictable offences, permanently ineligible for a pardon (now known as a Record Suspension) and raised the cost of getting a federal pardon from $150 to $631.
Pardon Services Canada's own records indicate that applications filed after the new law came into force are being processed ahead of applications filed prior to the legislative changes, resulting in a Parole Board of Canada backlog of 20,000 record suspension applications.
Veronique Rioux, spokeswoman for CSC, commented in the CBC article about the importance of employment in an offender’s reintegration process. However, the new legislative changes to the Criminal Records Act have disqualified many people from being able to obtain a pardon, and by virtue, have excluded them from the workforce. According to Dave Dinesen, who heads BackCheck, the largest background checking firm in Canada, an estimated 50% of employers now do some sort of background check, and a clear criminal record is required for many jobs. If an ex-convict cannot obtain a record suspension, which would clear his record from the Canadian Police Information Center database, his record will be visible during a background check and he will be ruled out as a potential candidate for these jobs.
Rioux mentions that offenders who find employment after incarceration are less likely to return to federal custody. According to Azmairnin Jadavji, President and CEO of Pardon Services Canada, "stable employment plays an important role in the reintegration of a prior offender into society. Why then, are restrictions on record suspensions being tightened?" The government is encouraging ex-offenders to find employment while at the same time disqualifying them from obtaining a record suspension—this seems to be a pull in different directions.
Pardon Services Canada suggests that the only recourse for ex-convicts who are still eligible under the new legislation is to obtain a Record Suspension to clear their criminal record from the Canadian Police Information Centre database.
Pardon Services Canada is an industry leader in the business of helping Canadians overcome the obstacles of a criminal record. Since 1989, PSC has successfully assisted over 100,000 Canadians exercise their lawful rights under the Criminal Records Act of Canada and the Immigration and Nationality Act of the United States.