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Criminal Record Discrimination in Canada – Part II

What are the guidelines in Canada regarding criminal record discrimination?Equal opportunity and Criminal Record Discrimination

Freedom from discrimination may only apply to pardoned or suspended records. You might not receive protection from discrimination related to charges that did not result in a conviction.  To find out if you can be descriminated against, you need to look to the relevant Federal Human Rights Act of Provincial Human Rights Act. For Part I of this Blog Check out: Part I

Federal Human Rights Act – Canada

If you are applying for a job with the Federal Government and you have a Canadian Pardon (or Record Suspension), you can rely on Canada’s Human Rights Act to protect you from discrimination.

This Act specifically states:

Prohibited grounds of discrimination

(1) For all purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.

Provincial Human Rights Act

If you are applying for a job that is not with the Federal Government and you have a Pardoned Criminal Record, you need to check with your Provincial Human Rights Act to see if you can be discriminated against. Some companies will be able to ask you to disclose a Pardoned Criminal Record. Though Pardons are very effective and you should get one at the earliest opportunity, there is no guarantee that a Pardon will eliminate discrimination in all cases.

1. British Columbia:

Does the British Columbia Human Rights Code prevent any type of criminal record discrimination?  Answer:  YES.

13  (1) A person must not (a) refuse to employ or refuse to continue to employ a person, or
(b) discriminate against a person regarding employment or any term or condition of employment because of the race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation or age of that person or because that person has been convicted of a criminal or summary conviction offence that is unrelated to the employment or to the intended employment of that person.

2. Alberta:

Does the Alberta Human Rights Act prevent any type of criminal record discrimination?

It is recognized in Alberta as a fundamental principle and as a matter of public policy that all persons are equal in: dignity, rights and responsibilities without regard to race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation.

3. Saskatchewan:

Does the  Saskatchewan Human Rights Code prevent any type of criminal record discrimination?

(7) The provisions of this section relating to any discrimination, limitation, specification or preference for a position or employment based on sex, disability or age do not apply where sex, ability or age is a reasonable occupational qualification and requirement for the position or employment.

4. Manitoba:

Does the Manitoba Human Rights Code prevent any type of criminal record discrimination?  Answer:  YES.

The Code prohibits unreasonable discrimination based on the following grounds, called “protected characteristics.”
Ancestry,  Nationality or national origin, Ethnic background or origin, Religion or creed, or religious belief, religious association or religious activity, Age, Sex, including gender-determined characteristics, such as pregnancy, Gender-identity, Sexual orientation, Marital or family status, Source of income, Political belief, political association or political activity, Physical or mental disability, Social disadvantage
While not noted in the Code the Manitoba Human Rights Commission accepts complaints on the basis of criminal record or disadvantaged social condition.

5. Ontario:

Does the Ontario Human Rights Code prevent any type of criminal record discrimination?  Answer:  YES.

In Ontario, there is no protection for applicants for employment against differential treatment based on a conviction, unless the conviction is for (i) a provincial offence or, (ii) in the event of a criminal offence, a pardon has been obtained. This occurs because although the Ontario Human Rights Code does provide protection from differential treatment based on a “record of offences”, it defines “record of offences” as follows:
“a conviction for,
(a) an offence in respect of which a pardon has been granted under the Criminal Records Act (Canada) and has not been revoked, or
(b) an offence in respect of any provincial enactment.”

6. Quebec:

Does the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms prevent any type of criminal record discrimination?  Answer:  YES.

The Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”) prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of a penal or criminal conviction where the offence is “in no way connected with the employment or if the person has obtained a pardon for the offence”.

7. New Brunswick:

Does the New Brunswick Human Rights Act prevent any type of criminal record discrimination?

4(1)No employer, employers’ organization or other person acting on behalf of an employer shall, because of race, colour, religion, national origin, ancestry, place of origin, age, physical disability, mental disability, marital status, sexual orientation, sex, social condition or political belief or activity, (a)refuse to employ or continue to employ any person, or

(b)discriminate against any person in respect of employment or any term or condition of employment.

8. Nova Scotia:

Does the The Nova Scotia Human Rights Act prevent any type of criminal record discrimination?

Employers must not discriminate against employees based on protected characteristics, such as disability or gender.  In fact, an employer has what is called a “duty to accommodate.”  This means they must do what is reasonable to allow a person to get, or keep, a job.

9. Prince Edward Island:

Does the Prince Edward Island Human Rights Act prevent any type of criminal record discrimination?

The Prince Edward Island Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in areas such as employment and services on the basis of certain personal characteristics or grounds (sex, race, disability…). Discrimination is the unequal, stereotypical or prejudicial treatment of persons.

10. Newfoundland and Labrador:

Does the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Act prevent any type of criminal record discrimination?  Answer:  YES.

 s.14(1) An employer, or a person acting on behalf of an employer, shall not refuse to employ or to continue to employ or otherwise discriminate against a person in regard to employment or a term or condition of employment on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination, or because of the conviction for an offence that is unrelated to the employment of the person.

11. Yukon:

Does the Yukon Human Rights Act prevent any type of criminal record discrimination?  Answer:  YES.

7 It is discrimination to treat any individual or group unfavourably on any of the following grounds: ancestry, including colour and race; national origin; ethnic or linguistic background or origin; religion or creed, or religious belief, religious association, or religious activity; age; sex, including pregnancy, and pregnancy related conditions; sexual orientation; physical or mental disability; criminal charges or criminal record; political belief, political association, or political activity; marital or family status; source of income

12. Northwest Territories:

Does the Northwest Territories Human Right Act prevent any type of criminal record discrimination?  Answer:  YES.

And whereas it is recognized in the Northwest Territories that every individual is free and equal in dignity and rights without regard to his or her race, colour, ancestry, nationality, ethnic origin, place of origin, creed, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, family status, family affiliation, political belief, political association or social condition and without regard to whether he or she has had a conviction that is subject to a pardon or record suspension.

13. Nunavut:

Does the Nunavit Human Rights Tribunal prevent any type of criminal record discrimination?  Answer:  YES.

  1. For the purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are race,
    colour, ancestry, ethnic origin, citizenship, place of origin, creed, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, pregnancy, lawful source of income and a conviction for which a pardon has been granted.

Upcoming Posts

  • Court Case involving discrimination based upon a conditional discharge;
  • Court Case involving discrimination based upon charges that did not result in a conviction; and
  • Court Case involving discrimination based upon a pardoned record.