We’re doing a summer advocacy blitz to make sure that the issue of record suspensions is a government priority heading into the Fall. Pitch in by emailing your elected representative – a template email is below. Please personalize it to make it your own – these emails are best if they speak of your own experience, in your own voice. If you don’t know who your federal Member of Parliament or their email is you can use the House of Commons search tool to find out.
To: MP XXXXX <XXX.XXX@parl.gc.ca>
Subject: Reforming the Criminal Records Act
Dear MP XXXX,
I am writing to bring your attention to an issue that I feel passionately about – the pressing need to reform Canada’s criminal records system. I am a constituent in your riding and [insert here if you have personal or professional experience that is relevant to criminal records – eg. a person with lived experience, a family member of a person with a criminal record, or a manager at XYZ Organization, a non-profit that provides housing and employment services to hundreds of Canadians each year.]
Over one in nine Canadians carry the stigma and burden of an old criminal record. Despite the fact that a criminal record cannot reliably predict who will be a good employee or tenant, these records frequently prevents people from accessing stable housing, jobs, or meaningful community volunteer work. The federal Criminal Records Act allows people to apply to seal an old criminal conviction by getting a record suspension – but the process is broken. It is very complicated, bureaucratic, and time-consuming, effectively inaccessible to those community members who need it the most. These barriers disproportionately affects communities that are over-represented in the criminal justice system — including Black people and members of other racialized communities, Indigenous persons, and those experiencing homelessness, mental illness, and addiction.
It keeps people from finding housing and stable jobs, which are vital to preventing recidivism. And it prevents people who have paid their debt to society from moving on and rebuilding their lives.
I know that the government is currently considering putting in place a system where a person’s criminal record would be automatically sealed after they have finished their sentence and lived in the community without any further convictions. Making this change just makes sense. It would reduce red tape, enhance public safety, and meaningfully affect the lives of many thousands of Canadians.
Please let me know if I can count on your support, as my elected representative, to help keep criminal record reform a priority and enact a comprehensive, automatic regime for record suspensions.