Criminal record suspensions can be the key for a real second chance for people trying to live life after a conviction.
But getting that second chance is becoming more difficult and expensive.
The John Howard Society of Thunder Bay and District held a workshop at its Syndicate Avenue location Tuesday to discuss the process and changes that have been made to the pardon process in February 2012.
“When I started working with individuals in obtaining record suspension the cost fee to the National Parole Board of Canada was $50,” said Kevin Haynen, program manager at the John Howard Society.
“As of February 2012 it has been changed to $631.”
In addition to the costs, Haynen said there is a stronger requirement in supplying court related documents, criminal reference checks as well as a doubling in the amount of time from five to 10 years.
All of those requirements complicates the process.
Haynen said employment is the primary motivation for people to have their past indiscretions hidden. He added that more employers are requesting record checks and it is becoming increasingly common for candidates to be dismissed for having an offence.
“It’s made the process more onerous on the individuals that is trying to do it themselves,” Haynen said.
“What I’ve done in my role is be willing to meet with them to set up times to discuss the process and talk about and do some planning around how to get it done in an efficient manner and reduce the chances that the application returned because of what is often a clerical error.”
There were more than 30 people in attendance for the session, which is one in a series of discussions the John Howard Society hosts surrounding various justice issues.