Mental status unsuitable for background checks: report
B.C.’s privacy commissioner says in a new report police are overstepping their bounds by releasing mental health concerns. (FOTOLIA)
The provincial privacy commissioner says police departments are crossing the line when releasing non-conviction information as part of background checks for potential employers.
In a new report, Elizabeth Denham said that outside of vulnerable sectors — including working with children — police are overstepping their bounds by releasing information such as mental health concerns concerning those getting a background check.
“This investigation report clearly demonstrates that police information checks issued by B.C.’s police forces have a significant, real-world impact on British Columbians,” Denham’s report said. “I believe the current release of personal information in police information checks does not achieve the appropriate balance between an individual’s right to privacy and an employer’s right to obtain relevant background information.”
The Vancouver Police Department does record checks for residents and said it does release mental health information in some circumstances, but would not comment on Denham’s report because staff members had not had time to thoroughly review it.
The VPD website said it sends the history to the subject of the record check, who can then decide if they want to submit it to a potential employer.
But Denham said health information in particular should never be released to potential employers.
“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,” she said in a news release.
But according to Denham, police in the province release more information in such checks than any other jurisdiction in Canada.