How do long pardon waiting periods affect people?

When the Conservative government raised minimum waiting periods for Record Suspensions, there was no evidence of any reduction in crime rates or recidivism.

The one area where an obvious impact occurred was in the number of Record Suspension applications filed. There was a 40 percent drop in Record Suspension applications between 2012, the year the wait times were increased and 2013. In addition to the extended wait times, the new fee of $631 also created an obstacle for many.

Read more

Why hasn’t Canada reformed the Record Suspension system?

Canadians with criminal records experience high fees and long waiting periods when they plan to apply for Record Suspensions (pardons). The government has promised to reform the system, but more than halfway into its mandate, no legislation has been introduced.

Why is it taking so long for the government to reform the pardon system and will they have time to pass legislation before fall of 2019?

Read more

Unpaid fines add to long waiting periods

People with criminal records were disappointed when the government decided to increase the wait periods for pardons, which are now called Record Suspensions.

However, for many people, the wait becomes even longer. Every year many Canadians who wait for the eligibility date are shocked to find out that when the five- or ten-year wait period actually ends they are back at square one. This often happens because they find out that they still can’t apply for a pardon due to outstanding fines. Although it seems reasonable that those with outstanding fines should pay them, it’s not always clear to the person being sentenced.

Read more

How hard is it to get an entry-level job with a criminal record?

When people think about record checks, they think about positions like teacher, nurse and social worker. Many people don’t think about how pervasive record checks affect those who are simply trying to get by with modest wages.

Currently, a person with a criminal record must wait five years to apply for Record Suspension if they have a summary conviction and ten years if they have an indictable conviction.

Read more

High pardon fees contribute to unemployment

It is difficult if not impossible to access Canada’s current pardon system if one is unemployed. Even those with minimum wage or part-time jobs will struggle with the fees involved. This Catch-22 causes the people who need to clear their record the most to be shut out of the process.

These days most employers are requesting a criminal record check. This includes entry-level positions as well as career-level. Meanwhile, the fee to apply for a Record Suspension from the Parole Board of Canada is $631. This is a huge amount for people on social assistance or people making only $11 per hour (a typical minimum wage in Canada). The previous government raised the fee from $150 because they felt that the program should pay for itself.

Read more

Parallel pardon systems are legally unacceptable

Lift the Burden is raising awareness about the fact that residents of only two provinces, BC and Ontario, can benefit from recent court decisions on the constitutionality of 2012 changes to pardon laws. 

Courts in these two provinces ruled that it was unconstitutional to apply these changes retroactively, because this had the effect of extending the punishment of the convicted person after sentencing. Thus, these provisions are of no force and effect. Unfortunately the Parole Board of Canada is only accepting applications under the old rules in two provinces, Ontario and BC. This is legally unacceptable according to a legal opinion that we requested. 

Read more

No plans for pardons in Canada's marijuana legalization bill

The government has presented its recreational marijuana legalization bill and many are disappointed that there is no plan to pardon past offences.

While the legislation legalizes cannabis, its focus is on regulation rather than “decriminalization.” This means, not only will people convicted of even small amounts of possession continue to have records, those who run afoul of the new legislation may be subjected to stronger penalties. 

Read more

How a criminal record holds Canadians back

A criminal record can hold Canadians back in many areas of their life. The most important area is employment.

In the past, record checks were rare. They were only used for security intensive positions, such as airport security or law enforcement. Today they are used anywhere that money changes hands, or employees interact with the public or property. 

Read more

Lift the Burden op-ed asks for pardon reform

Lift the Burden is calling on Canada to deal with it's unequal pardon system by prioritizing the reforms promised. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has stated that his ministry plans to reform Canada's pardon system. 

In a recent op-ed in the Vancouver Sun, CEO of AllCleared and head of AllCleared's Lift the Burden campaign, Azmairnin Jadavji, argues that now is the time to act. Read the opinion editorial. 

Read more

Court decisions create unequal pardon system

Recent developments have resulted in a less than equal pardon system. The government should act today to provide clarity to the Parole Board and help reformed offenders from across Canada get back on track. 

Read more