Canada is comprised of several provinces and territories: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Yukon.
On the federal level, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) governs organizations involved in commercial activities and applies when personal data is transferred across provincial borders or internationally. Under PIPEDA, “personal data” is defined broadly to include “information about an identifiable individual” excluding certain information such as the name or title of an employee of an organization.
Among other obligations, the ten principles under PIPEDA require organizations to limit collection of personal information to only that which is necessary, to ensure data is accurate, complete and up-to-date and to protect personal data with appropriate security safeguards. Notably, employers should collect appropriate consent from individuals before proceeding with the background check process.
On the provincial level, provinces may adopt privacy laws provided they are deemed “substantially similar” to PIPEDA. Currently, only Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia have separate privacy legislation that impacts the private sector. In 2013, Manitoba passed its data privacy legislation, but the law has not been proclaimed which means it is not currently in effect. PIPEDA is the controlling data privacy law as it pertains to international and interprovincial transfers. When data is being transferred within the particular province itself, the provincial privacy law (if one exists) will control instead of PIPEDA.
Employers should take note that the Social Insurance Number (SIN) is not required and should not be collected for background screening. The SIN is a nine-digit number that is restricted to income reporting purposes. As advised by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, unless there is a legislated purpose, private sector organizations should restrict the collection
Local Level - Provincial Courts - (All other provinces)/ (Alberta only)
Requirements: Full name, date of birth, current Canadian address, release form
A provincial search is a local court search that is based on the applicant’s residence history. This search will return any summary and indictable offenses found in the particular province being searched and will include more details than the CPIC search such as date of offense, charge type, disposition and sentencing information. In most cases these searches can be completed in 3-5 business days.
Canada Nationwide Criminal Records Search
Requirements: Full Name, Date of Birth, Complete In-Country Address, Release Form, Copies of 2 IDs
A search conducted through the Canadian Police Information Center (CPIC) Investigative Database and the Police Information Portal. If possible hits are developed, a secondary provincial court search will be conducted at the province of residence or based on disclosure. Only 1 provincial search would be conducted.
This search requires that the applicant sign a special release form as well as provide copies of 2 acceptable forms of ID. One piece of identification must be government issued and include the applicant name, date of birth, signature and photo. Primary forms of ID accepted: Canadian or Foreign Driver’s License, Canadian or Foreign Passport, Canadian Citizenship Card, Permanent Resident Card, Certification of Indian Status, Student ID from a foreign or local institute, Firearms Acquisition Certificate, Firearms Possession Certificate, Canadian National Institute of the Blind ID, Federal/Provincial/Municipal ID card, Military Family ID. Secondary forms of ID accepted: Birth Certificate, Baptismal Certificate, Hunting License, Fishing License, Immigration Papers.
Canada Civil Records Search - Federal Court
Requirements: Full name, date of birth, address, release
This search is available at both the Federal level and the local Superior Court. Report may include case type, file date, case number, name of court where case was filed, plaintiff, defendant and disposition if a case can be located.
Canada Civil Records Search - Local Level
Requirements: Full name, date of birth, address
This search is conducted through the local Superior Court based on the address provided. Report may include case type, file date, case number, name of court where case was filed, plaintiff, defendant and disposition if a case can be located. Additional fees and turnaround times may apply in situations where the court file needs to be pulled.
Canada Bankruptcy Records Search
Requirements: Full name, date of birth, address
This search is conducted at the local level through the court based on the jurisdiction of the address provided. Report may include file date, case number, name of court where case was filed and case status if a bankruptcy case can be located.
Education Degree Verification in Canada
Requirements: Full name, date of birth, school name, degree, major, dates attendance, city of school, hand signed release form
It is common to verify only the highest degree obtained by a candidate. Educational institutions will be contacted to verify dates of attendance, graduation date and degree information.
Employment Verification in Canada
Requirements: Name, date of birth, employer name and contact information, dates of employment, position held and release form
Employers will be contacted to verify the individual’s title, dates of employment and if the candidate is eligible for rehire. Typically employment verifications do not extend beyond a 7 year time frame absent a legal or regulatory requirement to obtain that information. Current employers will only be contacted with express consent from the applicant.
Reference Check in Canada
Requirements: Applicant name, reference's relationship, contact name and contact information (including phone number and email address)
This search is conducted via telephone (or at times e-mail) with the individual’s personal or professional references using a standard list of questions.
Motor Vehicle Records
Requirements: Full Name, Date of Birth, Driver's License Number, Consent Form for Some Provinces
Motor vehicle records will provide you with details regarding the driver’s identifiers such as full name, date of birth and driver's license number. The report will also indicate if the license is currently active, suspended or expired. Any traffic violation convictions made by the driver may also be included on the report. Reporting time frames and turnaround times vary depending on the Province. Currently, we cannot provide the MVR search in Alberta due to third party restrictions.
A search to determine if a candidate had fiduciary or board of directors responsibilities for a company.
Employment Screening Package
Requirements: Full name, date of birth, Canadian consent form, 2 copies of acceptable ID's, school name, degree obtained, dates of attendance, city of school, employer name and contact information, dates of employment, position and hand signed release form
The employment screening package includes one Canadian nationwide criminal check, education verification of highest degree obtained and one employment verification.
Criminal and Civil Search Package
Requirements: Name (including former name), dob, address, release
The Criminal and Civil Search Package offers discounted pricing of our most popular searches. This bundle includes one criminal records search and one civil records search, based on the jurisdiction of the address provided.
Civil and Bankruptcy Search Package
Requirements: Name (including former name), dob, address, release
The Civil and Bankruptcy Search Package offers discounted pricing of our most popular due diligence searches. This bundle includes one civil records search and one bankruptcy records search, based on the jurisdiction of the address provided.
Canadian Privacy laws & Regulations
Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) is considered to be Canada’s private-sector privacy law. PIPEDA has ten fair information principles that organizations must adhere to when dealing with personal information. These principles provide individuals with a level of privacy protection. The ten fair information principles are:
An organization is responsible for the personal information that it collects and that is under its control. The organization must designate an individual, or individuals, that are accountable for the organization’s compliance with the fair information principles.
An organization must have a legitimate business purpose for the collection of information, and must identify what personal information is to be collected. They must also notify the individual that the collection is taking place, and must have that individual’s consent to do so. This must be done before the information is collected.
The individual whom information is being collected on must have knowledge that the collection is taking place, and must have provided consent to the collection, use, or disclosure of personal information. This is required, however, exceptions do exist.
An organization may only collect personal information for a legitimate business purpose, and must only collect information that is necessary to that purpose. The information that is collected will be done through fair and lawful means, and may not be overly intrusive.
Limiting Use, Disclosure, and Retention
An organization may not use or disclose personal information it has collected for purposes other than the primary legitimate business purpose it was originally collected for. Using personal information for secondary purposes is prohibited.
An organization must ensure that the personal information collected is accurate, complete, and up-to-date as is necessary for their legitimate business purpose for which it is to be used.
An organization must ensure they have security safeguards in place to protect the personal information which it was collected. The more sensitive the information, the more security and protections it must be afforded.
An organization must make readily available its policies and practices relating to the management of personal information. An individual who requests information about these policies and practices must be provided with them.
An organization must ensure they allow an individual access to their own information. Upon request, an individual shall be informed of the existence, use, and disclosure of their personal information, and given access to that information. The organization must allow the individual to challenge the accurateness or completeness of their information and have it corrected when appropriate.
An individual shall be able to address a challenge concerning an organizations compliance with the ten fair information principles to the designated individual, or individuals, responsible for the organization’s compliance.
Criminal Record Information in Canada
Criminal record searches are allowed in Canada with the individual’s consent. Canada has a variety of different types of offenses that may be found on a criminal record search. These offenses are generally found at the provincial level. The national criminal search performed through the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) managed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) only offer clear/not-clear results based on a name and date of birth match only. If there is a not-clear result, fingerprints must be submitted.
Summary Conviction Offenses – These offenses are considered minor offenses. Records of these offenses are held at the local police station where the crime occurred. These offenses are not found in a criminal record search of the CPIC.
Indictable Offenses – These offenses are considered more serious than summary conviction offenses. Indictable offenses have more severe penalties. These offenses are found in a criminal record search of the CPIC.
Hybrid Offenses – These offenses can charged as either summary conviction offenses or indictable offenses, however, they are usually charged as indictable offenses. A hybrid offense may also be known as a “Crown Option,” or “Dual-Procedure” offense because the Crown Counsel decides whether or not to prosecute the offense as either summary or indictable. The Crown Counsel acts as prosecutors in criminal cases.
Absolute and Conditional Discharges – These records of convictions will be automatically removed from an individual’s criminal record if the individual exhibits good behavior for a certain period of time. The good behavior exhibited must meet certain conditions that are set forth by the Court, and once those conditions are met, the conviction can be discharged and removed. This results in the individual’s offense being a non-conviction. Absolute and Conditional Discharges must be removed from the CPIC system either one year, or three years, after the court decision, depending on the instructions of the Court.
Prohibited Persons Information – This is a list of people whom the Court has handed down a prohibition order against them with respect to firearms, alcohol, driving, etc.
Record Suspensions (formerly known as Pardons) – An individual can apply for a record suspension 5 years after completing their sentence for summary conviction offenses, and 10 years for all indictable offenses. When an individual has completed their sentence, they have complied with all stipulations ordered by the Court in regards to their conviction. This may include paying fines, paying restitution, completing probation, completing parole, completing jail time, etc. Individuals convicted of sexual offense, or convicted of three or more indictable offenses, are not eligible for record suspensions, but some very rare exceptions do exist. Individuals who have a sentence that includes indefinite parole are also not eligible for record suspensions. Record suspensions may not be used by employers in their hiring decisions.
Youth Criminal Justice Act – An individual that has been convicted and sentenced as a juvenile is given a youth record under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. These records are kept by the CIPC but are separated from offenses committed by adults. Information pertaining to juveniles or youths is considered private information and not accessible. Those with a youth record can truthfully answer “no” if asked if they have ever been convicted of an offense. Youth records are destroyed after a period of time regulated by the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Social Insurance Numbers (SIN)
Social Insurance Numbers (SIN) numbers are confidential numbers that are considered to be private information. Individuals are not required to provide their SIN to prove their identity. PIPEDA prohibits organizations from requiring an individual to disclose their SIN. The use of SIN is restricted to income reporting purposes. This includes various tax purposes such as income tax identification, tax rebate and discounting regulations, Canadian student loans, etc.