Criminal record check—a statutory requirement for all registrants

Under the Health Professions Act, the College administers the Criminal Records Review Act which provides that a criminal record check (CRC) must be completed for all registrants of the College. This requirement exists as College registrants are deemed to be individuals working with children or vulnerable adults directly or potentially have unsupervised access to children or vulnerable adults. 

The CRC is administered by the Criminal Records Review Program, which is part of the provincial government, not the College. The CRC must be completed every five years, when there is a change in class of registration, or when a registrant has been charged and/or convicted of an offence.  

The College sends the information provided on the criminal record check authorization/application form electronically to the Criminal Records Review Program operated by the Ministry of Justice. The manner in which the information is transferred from the College requires that registrants provide evidence of their driver’s licence number as an additional piece of identification, and that the College verifies this information. 

The Criminal Records Review Program arranges for a policing agency to conduct the CRC. If the check reveals no relevant record, the College is told that no relevant record exists. If there is a relevant or specified offence, this is reviewed by a government-appointed adjudicator who determines if the criminal record indicates a risk to children or vulnerable adults. If such a determination is made, the College is notified and will take appropriate action.

Registrants undergoing a CRC may also be required to undergo fingerprinting. The requirement for fingerprinting, and the query parameters for determining who should undergo them, is determined by the Criminal Records Review Program and is based on the federal RCMP’s Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services (CCRTIS) policy. 

The CCRTIS changed its query parameters for determining who would undergo fingerprinting in August 2010 in order to uncover sexual offences where a record suspension (formerly a pardon) has been granted. 

The search requires applicants who have the same name and/or date of birth and gender combination to undergo fingerprinting to verify their identity. The vast majority of those fingerprinted will not have a suspended sexual offence; however, fingerprinting remains a necessity as it eliminates the possibility of an offender changing his/her name to circumvent a criminal record. Currently only British Columbia and Alberta require fingerprints upon a legal name change which results in the records for these individuals continuing to be associated. There are fees associated with fingerprinting, which are set and collected by individual municipalities and their police, whether federal or municipal. The College does not provide reimbursement for the cost of fingerprinting.

Registrants who do not comply with the completion of the CRC process, including the completion of the fingerprinting where requested, will have their registration and licensure status reviewed by a College committee. The review may result in action being taken by the College, including the placement of limits and conditions on a registrant’s practice, cancellation of a registrant’s registration and licensure, or disciplinary action.

The College has recently been advised that a number of physicians have failed to comply with fingerprinting requirements. While it may be difficult to take time off work to attend a police station or commissionaire's office to undergo fingerprinting, registrants’ prompt attention to this request is strongly encouraged. The College would very much prefer to avoid taking action against a registrant for failure to comply with this statutory provision.