Registrar's message—criminal record check: a statutory requirement for all registrants

The British Columbia Criminal Records Review Act is intended to support the protection of children from physical or sexual abuse, and vulnerable adults from physical, sexual or financial abuse.

The Act requires all College registrants to complete a criminal record check upon application and then every five years thereafter. The law applies to all applicants and registrants of all professional regulatory bodies governed by the Health Professions Act.

Under the statute, a criminal record check 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.

At the time of application, all College applicants are required to provide their consent to a criminal record check, which includes consent to the vulnerable sector check, and the routine five-year renewal of the criminal record check. Registrants licensed for independent practice will notice that a consent question is also added to their Annual Licence Renewal Form in the year prior to their next five-year renewal.

The Criminal Records Review Program administers the criminal record check. The program is operated by the provincial government’s Ministry of Public Safety and the Solicitor General.

The vulnerable sector check determines whether the applicant/registrant has any record suspensions for sexual offences. If the applicant/registrant has the same combination of gender and date of birth as a sex offender whose record has been suspended, s/he must provide fingerprints to confirm identity.

This is a federal requirement of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that applies to all Canadians. Fingerprinting is necessary to eliminate the possibility that an offender has changed his/her name in order to pass a criminal record check.

If an applicant/registrant shares the same gender and date of birth as a record suspended sex offender, s/he will receive a letter from the Criminal Record Review Program informing that fingerprints are required. The letter will include forms and instructions on how to do this. Completion of this process is required in order to complete the criminal record check.

The College must receive a criminal record check result for every applicant and registrant. If a result is not received due to a physician’s non-compliance with the Criminal Record Review Program, including the requirement for finger printing, his/her file may be submitted to the College’s Inquiry Committee for review, and limits and conditions may be applied.

The College’s duty is to make registrants aware of this statutory requirement and ensure that the laws governing the profession are adhered to. The College would very much prefer to avoid taking action against a registrant for failure to comply with this statutory provision.

I fully acknowledge that it may be difficult to take time off work to attend a police station or commissionaire's office to undergo fingerprinting, and I want to thank the hundreds of physicians who promptly comply with this requirement each year.

For further information about the criminal record check and vulnerable sector check, please visit the Criminal Record Check page on the provincial government website located here.

Heidi M. Oetter, MD
Registrar and CEO

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