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Personal Mental Health Information to be Limited as Police Checks Act Passed

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The practice of disclosing mental health police records has long created barriers for people who have experienced a mental health crisis and has served to increase mental health stigma. With the passage of the Police Record Checks Reform Act (PRCRA) in the Ontario Legislature on Dec. 1, 2015, this discriminatory practice has been brought to an end. Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Ontario commends Ontario’s Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, the Hon. Yasir Naqvi, for introducing the PRCRA and all parties for their unanimous support of the new legislation.

The PRCRA reflects the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) Law Enforcement and Records (Managers) Network (LEARN) Guideline for Police Record Checks, and:
• Outlines how police record checks can be requested, provided and disclosed.
• Allows anyone to obtain a police record check for themselves.
• Requires that written consent is given by the individual in order for the police to disclose the police record check information to a third party (i.e. employer or volunteer organization).
• Prohibits the disclosure of information related to Mental Health Act apprehensions.
• States when non-conviction information can be disclosed in exceptional circumstances.
• Outlines procedures for reconsideration and correction of information provided in a police record check.

“We have been working to increase awareness about the dangers of disclosing mental health police records for nearly a decade and we applaud all parties for their unanimous support of the bill” said Camille Quenneville, CEO of CMHA Ontario. “The disclosure of mental health police records has long been discriminatory and has increased the stigma associated with mental health issues. We are pleased that all parties recognize that this unlawful and discriminatory practice must come to an end.”

CMHA Ontario has been working on issues relating to mental health police records for the past decade and was consulted during the drafting of the PRCRA and during its public review by the Standing Committee on Justice Policy. For a timeline of CMHA Ontario’s leadership on addressing police record checks reform click here.

CMHA Ontario is Co-Chair of the Police Records Check Coalition (PRCC), a group of more than 30 people and organizations comprising health law and human rights legal experts and representatives from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Ontario Association of Patient Councils, the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario and the John Howard Society of Ontario.

For more information on police records and how they can impact individuals, visit the Coalition’s website at www.PRCCOntario.ca. The PRCRA legislation is available on the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services site

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