Police record checks are used to screen individuals for employment, volunteering, and sometimes even housing. On November 1, 2018, the Police Record Check Reform Act (PRCRA) came into force and standardized the police record check process in Ontario—regulating the type of information that police services can release on record checks.

Many youth have questions about how their involvement in the youth justice system, including interactions will police, will impact their employment in the future. So here’s what you need to know about what the PRCRA means for youth.

A youth record is not a criminal record. When a young person under the age of 18 is charged with a criminal offence, they are dealt with under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). The YCJA protects young people’s privacy and prohibits the publication of any information that would identify a young person’s involvement in the justice system by restricting access to their records. This means that information contained in a youth record is kept confidential.

Although youth can request to see their own records for a period of time, youth records can only be shared in a police record check for employment with government or an agency that provides services on behalf of government. But even in this case, government employers can only see your youth record within specific timeframes called an open “access period.” After the access period has ended, the record is sealed and cannot be used for any purpose. 

In order to ensure that young people’s rights are protected, the PRCRA requires that youth records must be printed on a separate page, which is to be removed from a police record check before being shared with a potential employer or volunteer organization.

For more information about your youth record, visit Justice for Children and Youth’s websiteIf you are having problems with or are concerned about records disclosed on a police records search that you requested, contact JFCY for help.

This blog is intended to provide a platform for a range of perspectives on restorative justice and Canada’s youth justice system. The views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the views of Peacebuilders.