- What are Pardons/Record Suspensions?
- How does the system work today?
- Who is Lift the Burden?
- What are your goals?
A record suspension (formerly a pardon) allows people who were convicted of a criminal offence, but have completed their sentence and demonstrated they are law-abiding citizens for a prescribed number of years, to have their criminal record kept separate and apart from other criminal records.
In 2012, fundamental changes to the Criminal Records Act took place to tighten the pardon/record suspension procedure, making it more stringent.
Record Suspensions are more expensive:
The cost of obtaining a record suspension increased by nearly 1200% when it jumped from $50 to $631. 99% of those citizens consulted by the government called this increase an extra tax that makes the process inaccessible to many who need this service the most, and an unnecessary barrier towards reintegration (PBC Consultation Report for Proposed Increases, 2011).
People have to wait almost double the time to be eligible for a Record Suspension:
Prior to the changes, the system provided those with summary offences a period of 3 years after the completion of their sentence to be eligible for a record suspension, and 5 years for those with indictable offences.
Today, past offenders of a summary offence would have to wait 5 years, and those of an indictable offense would need to wait 10. That`s nearly double the time that ordinary Canadians, who have already served their time and received their due punishment, are forced to wait until their record can be cleared.
The reality for ordinary Canadians
Life is now harder and more expensive when it comes to obtaining relief for the majority of past offenders whose crime is non-violent, non-sexual, and of a relatively minor scale, as these new obstacles can cause difficulty in the job search, volunteering, and traveling.
The reality for society
With 1 in 8 Canadians having difficulty securing a job, volunteering, and traveling because of a criminal record, we argue that the changes will make society less safe by preventing the opportunity of reintegration. In fact, of the Canadians who have received a record suspension since 1970, 96% have not re-offended.
Lift the Burden is a public awareness project sponsored by Pardon Services Canada, Canada`s first assistance provider to those in need of a record suspension or entry waivers into the US and Canada since 1989. Under the leadership of CEO Azmairnin Jadavji, the firm has played a vocal role in criticizing the last 10 years of legislative changes to the pardons and record suspension system, as seen on CTV, the CBC, and other news outlets.
Through Lift the Burden, Mr. Jadavji and the PSC team are raising awareness of the plight that thousands of Canadians are going through, especially those that are being priced out of the opportunity of a record suspension. While our industry benefits from a rise in fees to collect and process, we see ordinary, hardworking Canadians suffer from legislative changes that paint over 4 million Canadians who have a record, with the same brush.
Through this campaign, we aim to enact real change when it comes to the current state of record suspensions, by making it a fairer system where Canadians can receive timely and affordable service.
We’re asking for your support in our cause to amend current federal policies around record suspensions.
We want record suspensions to be free. We believe government should support the system as a societal benefit, as it did for nearly 30 years. Since 1970, record suspensions have proven to be a key tool in reducing crime, increasing employment and eliminating recidivism.
- We want eligibility wait periods to be rolled back from five years to three years for summary offences and from ten years to five years for indictable offences.