Effective Jan. 1, it will be more affordable for those living with a criminal record to seek a record suspension or pardon, making it easier for them to integrate into the community.
On Dec. 22, the Canadian government announced a fee reduction, slashing the previous fee of $658.00 to $50, plus any additional fees needed for the application.
In a release issued the same day, The John Howard Society of Sudbury announced they were greatly pleased by the change. Not only will it make it a more affordable process for those looking to move on with their lives, but it is the fulfillment of a promise made long ago, and one that the John Howard Society of Sudbury has been advocating for.
Almost four million Canadians are living with a criminal record and a record suspension eases the process of applying for jobs, volunteer work and reintegration into communities.
“We know that employment transforms lives and uplifts communities,” states the release from the society. “So it’s no surprise that finding employment is a critical factor for enabling people who’ve been involved in the criminal justice system to effectively reintegrate into society.”
But because of the widespread prejudice against those with a criminal record, a feeling that the society states is “rooted in stereotypes and misconceptions about the criminal justice system” and the growing use of background checks, many are denied the chance to build a productive future for themselves and their families.
“If our community wants people to be able to work and support businesses”, stated Sara-Jane Berghammer, John Howard Society CEO, “then this new fee structure for pardons will go a long way to making that happen”.
Berghammer said that racialized and marginalized groups are vastly over-represented among people with criminal records. This includes Black and Indigenous people, as well as people who have experienced mental illness, addiction, homelessness, trauma, or poverty.
“These groups are so highly over-represented because, in Canada, they are often unjustly over-policed, over-incarcerated, and treated in biased ways by the criminal justice system,” stated Berghammer. This translates into almost never being able to find employment.
“This new fee structure is a positive first step to giving people a fair chance at being hired.”
For more information or to inquire about the record suspension/pardon application process, contact the John Howard Society of Sudbury by clicking here.