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Province right to keep personal information private

PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2014 10:47 am
by Thomas
It’s always worth noting when politicians keep a promise, and it appears Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is poised to do just that.

In the new year, the provincial government will table legislation detailing what information police can and cannot disclose to employers, charities and academic institutions through background checks.

This is welcome and significant news, because there are now no rules safeguarding personal information contained in the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database.

Police can release personal data about anyone listed at CPIC, regardless of whether those charges resulted in convictions or were dismissed/withdrawn. And the repercussions can be devastating.

Imagine, for example, being refused a position because you were listed in the database after being accused (but not convicted) of a crime.

One woman, a resident of a women’s shelter, was accused of making threats. Police investigated, and found the allegations were false. Yet, the allegations remain on her record and a background check led to her being denied a chance to volunteer at a shelter.

The Toronto Police Service received nearly 110,000 requests for personal data last year from professional and volunteer organizations — a 92-per-cent increase over five years ago.

To its credit, the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police urged all police forces to stop disclosing unproven allegations, 911 mental-health calls and withdrawn charges in background checks shared with employers, volunteer organizations and U.S. border officials.

But it’s up to the discretion of those police forces to comply or not.

So legislation is desperately needed to set in stone the parameters by which information can be shared.

There are more than 420,000 Canadians on file at CPIC. If those who are innocent of any allegations cannot have their records expunged then, at the very least, the information should be kept private.

Queen’s Park is correct to move quickly on this issue. ... n-private/