Criminal record check—a statutory requirement

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 and all physicians applying for registration. 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. At its recent meeting in September, the Board reaffirmed its support for the CRC requirement.

The CRC is administered by the Criminal Records Review Program (CRRP), which is part of the provincial government, and not the College. The CRC must be completed

  • at the time of application for registration,
  • at the time of a registrant class change,
  • every five years, and
  • when a registrant has been charged and/or convicted of an offence.

Every applicant must provide consent for the criminal record check at the time of registration. Registrants who have been on the register for some time have also provided their consent for initial and ongoing criminal record checks.

The College sends the information provided on the CRC authorization/application form electronically to the CRRP operated by the Ministry of Justice. The manner in which the information is transferred from the College requires that registrants provide their driver’s licence number as an additional piece of identification.

The CRRP arranges for a policing agency to conduct the CRC. The College is informed if the check reveals no relevant record. If there is a relevant or specified offence, a review is conducted by a government-appointed adjudicator who determines whether or not the criminal record indicates a risk to children or vulnerable adults. If it does, the College is notified and will take appropriate action. 

Fingerprinting

Registrants undergoing a CRC may also be required to provide fingerprints (this is called the vulnerable sector check). The requirement for fingerprinting, and the query parameters for determining who is required, are determined by the CRRP and based on the RCMP’s Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services (CCRTIS) policy. 

Note: 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 provide fingerprints 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 that fingerprints be provided upon a legal name change, which results in the records for these individuals continuing to be associated.

Note: An applicant’s fingerprints are only used by the RCMP to confirm the applicant’s identity. After the completion of this process, fingerprints are destroyed. The fingerprints are not kept or searched for other purposes.

There are fees associated with fingerprinting, which are set and collected by individual municipalities and their federal or municipal police. The College does not provide reimbursement for the cost of fingerprinting.

Compliance

Registrants who do not comply with the completion of the CRC process, including providing fingerprints where requested, will have their registration and licensure status reviewed by the College. 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. 

Section 15(2) of the Criminal Records Review Act provides that if a registered member does not provide the CRC authorization as required the

  1. registered member must not work with children or with vulnerable adults until the registered member has provided the criminal record check authorization or verification, and
  2. the College must investigate or review the registration of the registered member and take appropriate action under the Act that governs the College.

Section 33(2)(a) of the Health Professions Act (HPA) provides that if a registrant fails to authorize a criminal record check or a criminal record check verification, as applicable under the Act, the inquiry committee of a college must take the failure or the determination into account, investigate the matter and decide whether to impose limits or conditions on the practice of the designated health professional or whether to suspend or cancel registration.

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 prefer to avoid taking action against a registrant for failure to comply with this provincial statutory requirement.

For more information, contact the Ministry of Justice at 1-855-587-0185 (from within BC only) or by email at sgspdps@gov.bc.ca. Alternatively, visit the website at www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/criminal-records-review.

Criminal record check—a step-by-step process

  1. The College sends criminal record check information and payment to the Ministry of Justice.

  2. The Ministry of Justice runs checks against provincial data and RCMP information. If criminal records are found, they are examined to determine relevance to physical or sexual abuse.

  3. The College is informed when no relevant record is found.

  4. If a possible relevant record exists, the Ministry of Justice may request the individual to provide fingerprints to the RCMP.

  5. If the deputy registrar, Criminal Records Review Program at the Ministry of Justice determines that there is no risk to children or vulnerable adults, the College is informed. As “good character” is a requirement for registration, past criminal charges or convictions may require further review by the College.

  6. If the deputy registrar, Criminal Records Review Program at the Ministry of Justice determines a risk exists, the College is informed. The College takes action in accordance with the Health Professions Act and the Bylaws made under the Act.

  7. The individual may appeal the decision of the deputy registrar, Criminal Records Review Program at the Ministry of Justice.