B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham is criticizing the use of police information checks for employment purposes.

Make suicidal history off-limits in hiring checks: B.C. Privacy Commissioner

Elizabeth Denham issues report criticizing use of police information checks for employment

The growing use of police information checks to vet job applicants is resulting in inappropriate disclosure of highly sensitive information like mental illness and past suicide attempts.

B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham released a highly critical report on the practice Tuesday, urging government and municipal police boards to order an immediate halt.

Unlike a criminal record check, a police information check can turn up details about investigations that don’t lead to charges, charges that don’t lead to convictions and even the target’s mental health.

“Mental health information should never be included in an employment-related record check,” Denham said.

“There is no reason why this information should be disclosed to employers, who would have no right to otherwise ask about this information in the hiring process.”

B.C.’s record check system allows the release of more mental health and other non-conviction information that the vast majority of other jurisdictions the commissioner’s office studied.

Denham said personal information that ends up in police databases is routinely disclosed to employers without any evidence it predicts future criminal behaviour, improves public safety or results in better hiring decisions.

“The information in these checks can have a significant and lasting impact on an individual’s privacy, human rights and feelings of dignity and self-worth.”

Non-conviction information held by police should be off-limits in employment-related record checks except in cases of prospective employees who work with children and vulnerable adults, Denham recommended.

Denham’s office heard public submissions warning that disclosures of mental health information vastly increases the potential for discrimination and further stigmatizes those afflicted.

Some submissions also warned the spectre of inappropriate police disclosure may deter some people from seeking help during a mental health crisis.

The report recounts individual cases of B.C. residents denied a job or unable to volunteer for youth coaching due to unproven police suspicions that never led to charges or past suicide attempts that turned up in their employer-required police information search.

That left some job applicants struggling to explain to prospective bosses why they were once suicidal or hospitalized for depression. Some said they have yet to land a job.

Just Posted

Police presence at Anna Place in Courtenay

Situation resolved peacefully

Summer seasonal farmers’ markets now open in the Comox Valley

Downtown Courtenay and Cumberland hosting outdoor markets

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Greenwood Trunk sewer line construction continues

Work on Ryan Road portion of project Monday

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Activists protest outside Kinder Morgan terminal in kayaks, canoes

Tsleil-Waututh elder Ta’ah Amy George led the water ceremony from a traditional Coast Salish canoe

Most Read