CSI Background Screening Blog

Get the Real Deal!

There are only two ways for an employer to obtain a criminal background check on an applicant or an employee. In Canada, before a police agency can conduct a criminal records check on anyone, they must obtain signed informed consent from the individual. Your employer cannot conduct a criminal check without your consent. Neither can your father-in-law to be or your new bff.
Only you can give signed consent to have a criminal records search conducted on your behalf.
Employers can have their employee attend a local police station for a criminal records search and have the applicant provide a copy of the results to their HR department, or they can have the criminal records search conducted by a third party background screening agency.
So while there may be two ways, there is only one right way and that is using a third party background screening agency.
First and foremost, employers should not allow their applicant to have an opportunity to change the results. Scanners, printers and readers have become very sophisticated pieces of equipment – they are even used to print counterfeit currency! It is not difficult to manipulate a document particularly when there is nothing unique on the form such as a protected watermark or a hologram. The results issued by 98 per cent of police agencies are very open to manipulation.
And before you think it can’t happen here, it already has. We are aware of several cases where the applicant turned in a result to their employer that was not the original issued by the police agency. In particular we are aware of a case in Cape Breton where an applicant changed the result to show they did not have a criminal record when in fact they did. This applicant went on to obtain employment for several months, during which time they committed a criminal act while at the workplace. In most cases the manipulation is not discovered until it is too late, with catastrophic results.
Third party background screeners obtain results directly from the police agency and provide the results directly to the employer, not the applicant, so the applicant never has an opportunity to change the results.
Often we find employers receive the results but are then unsure what to do about it. At CSI we are always ready to discuss the results, what they mean and provide any guidance we feel can assist employers with making a decision. And when you call us a real human will answer the phone!
Additionally, we make it easy for you to receive your results, delivered directly to your web portal and stored there for easy access when it’s convenient for you.
Finally, there are pricing advantages to going with a background screening agency. Because we are dealing with police agencies in volume, we can often negotiate better pricing, which means better pricing for the employer.
So for better prices, convenience, accuracy and the comfort of knowing you always have a friend to give you help and advice, you know where to turn.

Is VSS the best solution? Understanding VSS

To VSS or not to VSS?

Employers who currently require applicants to submit to a Vulnerable Sector Search (VSS) as part of their background screening should consider the benefits of conducting Enhanced Criminal Records searches in their place.

More and more we are finding that the VSS search, which is in essence a search of the Pardoned Sex Offender Database held by held by the RCMP, is not meeting the expectations of employers. Many employers think the VSS search gives them access to all criminal records of a prospective applicant, but this is just not so.

The VSS search only returns the records of those individuals who have a pardoned or suspended record for a sexual offence. It will not tell you if they have been pardoned for any other offense. There are only 14,000 individuals currently in the Pardoned Sex Offender database. In 2012 the government legislated that anyone convicted of a sexual offense against a minor was no longer eligible for a pardoned or suspended record, so there has been little growth in the database, and, as it is not a database that is “maintained”, it includes the records of deceased individuals.

For individuals to be granted a Pardon or Suspended Record, the person first must be arrested/charged with a sexual offence, attend court and be found guilty, be convicted of the offense and a sentence must be handed down.  The individual must then serve the entirety of their sentence, pay any fines, make any restitution and complete any probation etc.  Once that has all been completed, then the clock starts on the mandatory wait period. They MUST wait 5 to 10 years before they can even apply for the Pardon or Suspended Record.  Once they apply and obtain all the necessary paperwork and documents, they submit their application and, in most cases, it takes at least 18 months before an answer is provided.  Based on the above, and information received from the Parole Board, it would be impossible for anyone under the age of 35 to be on the Pardoned or Suspended Sex Offender Registry.

When Police agencies conduct a Vulnerable Sector Search, they will see if there is a “hit” on the sex and date of birth, but they will not see any details. The applicant is then fingerprinted and a request is made to the Federal Ministry of Public Safety to review the information and determine if they feel the employer should be made aware of the match.

Interestingly, of the more than 2 million Vulnerable Sector Searches conducted annually in Canada, less than .005 percent result in a match – so 100.

In 2016 the government determined the Federal Ministry of Public Safety should “reinterpret” the regulations surrounding when a match is returned. Prior to 2016, 95% of all matches were returned to employers, but since that date, the percentage has fallen to less than 40%. The reinterpretation included direction to the Ministry that they should assess such things as whether or not the applicant committed the sexual offense against an adult or a child. If the offense was committed against an adult, they are likely to return no match for an applicant who will be working with children. As well, the Federal Ministry of Public Safety has been asked to review such things as how long ago the offense was committed, whether or not the applicant was a member of an ethnic group and the severity of the offense, amongst other criteria.

This means that 60 % of the people in the database with a suspended or pardoned record for a sexual offense are being returned to employers as CLEAR or “no record” when in actual fact they do have a record, but a Federal agency has determined that an employer should not be aware of it. This is a very false sense of security for hiring managers. The RCMP has publicly stated that they take “issue” with the reinterpretation of these regulations and point to cases of people with “disturbing” records who have been returned as CLEAR to work with the vulnerable of our society.

All of the above can take weeks to complete; by the time the applicant attends the police station to conduct the VSS, to be fingerprinted if appropriate, for the Federal Ministry to conduct a review and make a determination, and for the final document to be created and mailed to the employer.

An enhanced criminal records check, conducted with the applicant’s consent, requires no physical visit, is returned in less than 24 hours, and searches for and returns criminal convictions, including any sexual offenses for which a pardon has not been granted, pending charges, charges not resulting in convictions, warrants, prohibitions, probation orders and searches local police indices.

The takeaway here is that you should weigh the alternatives to VSS:

-If your applicants are under 35 years old they cannot be in the Pardoned Sex Offender database.

-The Ministry only returns a positive match in 38% of cases, withholding the records of  62% of the requests when the applicant does in fact hold a pardoned sex offense record.

-Only .005% of the VSS done in Canada result in a match.

An enhanced criminal records check is less expensive for employers, faster, more convenient,  and searches far more records than a VSS search does. The most important factor is that the Enhanced Criminal Records search will reveal if your applicant has any pending charges, prohibitions or probations orders, which a VSS search will not show.

Is it an apple or an orange? Comparing services

Glad that’s in the rearview!
Well, put a pin in 2020! Boy that was the year from hell! Here at CSI Screening we have turned our back firmly on the year which shall not be named, and are trying to look positively at 2021.
One thing we have been looking forward to for a long time is the launch of our new website, which you can find at https://www.csiscreening.com/. Please take a look and if you have any questions or see any mistakes please let me know. If you are a regular user of our website please give us your feedback on how the new site works for you.

Is it an apple? Or an orange?


My mother always told me, compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. Mind you I think we were probably in a grocery store setting when she told me this, but it applies to who you select to perform your background screening checks for you as well. There are a lot of companies moving into the background screening industry offering criminal checks at very low prices with almost instant turnaround. What seems too good to be true most often is. Many of these companies are offering a criminal record search at rock bottom prices and 5 minute turn around.
In reality, they are performing a search of a database known in the industry as the Global Terrorist Watchlist in place of an actual Canadian criminal records search. While a Global Terrorist Watch list search is great for what it is designed for, it is by no means a Canadian Criminal Records search. However, it is far cheaper for them to conduct this search and pass it off as a criminal records search to the unwary. We offer an Enhanced Global Terrorist Watchlist search to our own clients, but we have certainly never offered it as a substitute for a Canadian Criminal Records Search.
If you are being offered great prices and instant turn around, ask some questions. What database do you search when conducting a Canadian Criminal Records search? If they respond with anything but the National Repository of Criminal Convictions maintained by the RCMP, then it is not a Canadian Criminal Records Search. Further, if they are unwilling to tell you what police agency they use, be very wary. If they provide you with an agency name, don’t be afraid to call that police agency and ask them outright if they perform the criminal records search for the proposed screening provider.
In the fallout from “fake news”, we all need to be aware that it is up to us to do our own due diligence.

Social Insurance Number (SIN)

SIN Card

SIN CardQUESTION :  Can I use my SIN Card as a piece of ID? 

ANSWER:        The SIN card is not accepted by CPIC as a valid piece of ID as it can be easily manipulated or copied. Fingerprints are now required for Federal Government Contract work in Canada.

Standard Criminal Check vs Enhanced Criminal Check

Is more really better? In the world of background screening the answer is usually YES! Do you know there is a standard criminal records check and an Enhanced version? The standard criminal records search will return an affirmative response from the RCMP if the applicant truthfully self-declares all of the indictable criminal offenses which he or she has been convicted of and has not received a pardon for.

An Enhanced criminal records search is something like the supersize me of criminal records searches. It covers the same territory as a standard criminal records search but also includes any pending charges, charges which have not resulted in convictions, warrants, prohibitions, probation orders and local police indices.

The Enhanced search is particularly helpful when hiring an applicant who may be employed in some position of trust where a criminal record would be extremely risky. A standard check will not tell you that the applicant has been recently charged with an offense, and may not be appearing in court until after you have hired them. If the applicant were convicted of impaired driving, and you unknowingly hired them prior to their conviction, driving might be one of their duties. You would have no way of knowing of the employee’s recent conviction, unless they were to disclose it to you, and you could have an employee driving a company vehicle without a license. If an accident were to occur, the consequences would be disastrous.

Unless your company conducts regular rechecks, you might hire someone without a criminal record who is convicted after their hire date, and never know they have a record. If you were hiring someone to enter client’s residences to install or repair devices, you could be exposing your clients to unacceptable risks and should an incident occur, your company might be considered culpable as you had not done your due diligence.

Enhanced criminal records searches are not needed by everyone, but for those companies who should be using them, it is an invaluable tool.

Bad Hire = Big Losses

It’s easy to think that the bigger the organization is the harder it is to maintain control and know your people, thus keeping your business, customers and employees safe. While that is true to some degree, it is the smaller businesses and organizations that have more to lose when the worst happens – you’ve made a bad hire.

In larger organizations there tends to be overlap in employee roles and often there are backups for each role so that no one person is integral to the operation or completely responsible for important duties.

In small businesses, one employee is often responsible for wearing several hats and has access to more sensitive information, simply because the owner has no recourse but to trust the few people they hire. In many cases an employer must depend on one or two staff members to run their business if they ever hope to have a day off or any vacation time.

This is why it is so vitally important that small business owners conduct very thorough background screening, including criminal checks, detailed reference checks and verification of the applicant’s former employment. The reality is that many small business owners have neither the time or the experience in conducting these background checks. They are too busy running their company.

No matter how big or small your company is, CSI Background Screening makes your hiring needs our first priority, and we have over 15 years of experience in helping companies around the world to make informed hiring decisions.

Welcome to the New and Improved CSI

We welcome you to the new CSI Background Screening website that has been a labor in the background to bring you the best experience possible when dealing with background searches. Whether your a new hire, or a company hiring a new employee, we know that the experience is much likened to extending a family.

Recent Posts

Get the Real Deal! Posted 21 May 2021