Record Suspension fee is a barrier for Canadians
Most people who responded to a government consultation felt the $631 fee is a barrier that prevents Canadians from applying for pardons.
The Canadian Press submitted an access to information request to the government to receive the results of the consultation. Although the full results are not available, the Canadian Press reported that what they received indicated that people felt the $631 was too high for people who need pardons.
Many people who responded to the government’s online consultation survey left comments suggesting that they were struggling with unemployment and could not afford the fee. One respondent suggested that it could be deducted from future paycheques once she was able to find a job.
“I only want to live a positive life for my children and myself,” she stated.
In 2012, the Canadian government increased the fee from $150 to $631. These changes caused the number of pardon applications to drop by about one-third. The Conservative government of the time said that they were moving to a full cost recovery fee, so that taxpayers would not have to subsidize the program.
However, they also made the fee the same for everyone. This means that a person with a single summary (minor) charge, pays the same amount as a person with multiple indictable (more serious) charges.
The current government says they are planning to roll back some of the barriers put in place by the Conservatives. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale called the changes “punitive.”
One of the solutions the current government seemed to be exploring in its consultation survey was a tiered plan. People with a summary conviction, for example, simple possession, would pay less than someone with a more serious record.
We believe that pardons should be free because the fee will affect the people who are in greatest need of receiving a pardon. Helping people find work is the best way to assist them in getting back on track. Statistics show that the number of people who reoffend or lose their pardon for some other reason (such as lying on the application) is very low – less than four per cent.
If you agree that pardons should be free, help us let the federal government know by signing our petition. We just need 355 more signatures to reach our goal.