Ontario Making it Easier to Volunteer
TORONTO — The Ontario government is eliminating the cost of police record checks for volunteers of all ages looking to give their time and skills to the causes they care about. This includes Criminal Record Checks and Criminal Record and Judicial Matters Checks, which are commonly required by organizations that work with volunteers.
Beginning April 1, 2022, amendments to the Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015 will remove the fee for these two types of police record checks, making it easier for Ontarians to support animal shelters, food banks, emergency response initiatives, and many more organizations in their communities. Volunteers can also receive up to five copies of these types of police record checks for free, making it easier to apply to multiple volunteering positions.
“Volunteers enrich our communities and making it free to get police record checks is a tangible way our government is making it easier for Ontarians to give back,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “Taking fees out of the equation will benefit charities and organizations that rely on the helping hands of volunteers, as well as senior volunteers with fixed incomes.”
This change will make it easier than ever to participate in initiatives like Volunteer Corps Ontario, which is currently recruiting and training volunteers to help their communities during emergencies like natural disasters.
“Removing the cost of these essential police record checks is one way our government is making it easier for people across the province to embrace the Ontario Spirit and volunteer in their communities,” said Parm Gill, Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism. “It is our hope that this initiative will make it easier for non-profit organizations to attract committed and talented people to help those who need it most.”
A police record check is a search of police database records about an individual and is often used as part of a screening process for employment, volunteering, education, professional licensing, rental housing, insurance, adoption, child custody, foster care and other purposesIn Ontario. The Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015 governs the types of record checks that can be conducted for screening purposes.
These changes are intended to encourage volunteerism. They exclude people who perform a service in exchange for a form of credit, such as an academic credit. Students who have completed their full academic volunteer requirements and go on to additional non-credit volunteering will become eligible.
Prospective volunteers will still need to pay any fees charged by police services for Vulnerable Sector Checks, which are considered the most thorough type of police record checks and require a comprehensive search of national and local police databases.
The amendments to the Police Record Checks Reform Act were included in Schedule 20 of Bill 13, The Supporting People and Businesses Act, which received Royal Assent on December 2, 2021.
These amendments expand the Lieutenant Governor in Council’s regulation-making authority to prescribe requirements for how police services conduct police record checks for volunteers, and how long a police record check for a volunteer for a prescribed purpose could be relied upon.
"The Ontario Nonprofit Network is pleased to see the elimination of fees for certain levels of police record checks for volunteers. Volunteers are vital to our communities through nonprofit organizations across Ontario. We know communities could not function without the supportive web of nonprofits that contribute to our quality of life. This has been even more evident during the pandemic."
- Cathy Taylor Executive Director, Ontario Nonprofit Network
"Volunteers contribute to building stronger, more vibrant communities. We can all support making volunteering easier for those who want to give back to our communities. Eliminating volunteer police check fees helps to do that."
- Jamie McGarvey AMO President and Mayor of the Town of Parry Sound