Criminal records checks

Under the Protection for Persons in Care Act (PPCA), service providers must require a criminal records check of every successful applicant for employment, every new volunteer and every person to be engaged for services to provide care or support services.

Service providers under the Protection for Persons in Care Act

The service providers that come under the PPCA include:

  • Seniors’ lodges, hospitals, nursing homes
  • Women’s shelters, homeless shelters, youth shelters
  • Supportive living settings 
  • Persons that provide care or support services (other than family-managed supports) funded by Persons with Developmental Disabilities community boards
  • Persons that provide day programs, residential and care or support services funded by Alberta Health Services, including but not limited to mental health and addictions treatment centres

Care or support services

The PPCA defines care or support services as any services that relate to a client’s health, or physical or psychological well-being.

Criminal records check

A criminal records check is a search that is used to determine whether an individual has a criminal record. A criminal records check does not include offences that fall under provincial legislation.

Criminal records checks are important because they help to inform service providers and assist with decision-making when recruiting new volunteers, employees and contractors. Criminal records checks help reduce risk to clients by identifying past criminal behaviour that may put a vulnerable person at risk.

Successful applicants for employment

Successful applicants for employment are potential new employees (before their employment is confirmed) and includes employees changing positions.

It is good practice for service providers to ensure all successful applicants for employment (regardless of the type of work they perform) undergo a criminal records check. However, under the PPCA, it is mandatory that those applicants who would be providing care or support services to clients have a criminal records check completed.

Volunteers that need to have a criminal records check

Volunteers are persons who do not receive remuneration (by contract, employment relationship or any other agreement).

It is good practice for service providers to ensure all volunteers who may have contact with clients or the client’s funds/property or who have access to client information, undergo a criminal records check. However, it is essential for all volunteers who provide care or support services to clients to undergo a criminal records check.

Types of persons engaged for services that need to have a criminal records check

Persons engaged to provide care or support services are persons bound by contract, other formal arrangement or moral or legal obligation to provide services.

The service provider should ensure the person undergoes a criminal records check before the service provider engages the person, such as before entering into a contract or agreement.

Criminal records checks for current volunteers, current staff and current contractors

Under the PPCA the duty to undergo a criminal records check only applies to new successful applicants for employment, new volunteers, and new persons engaged for services, and only from the date the PPCA was proclaimed (July 1, 2010). The former PPCA also had a similar requirement related to criminal records checks. For many service providers, this means current employees should have had a criminal records check completed when they were hired.

Criminal records checks of people such as physicians, practicum placement students and visiting school children

If a service provider is engaging the services of a health professional, such as a physician, to provide care or support services to clients, then the service provider has a duty under the PPCA to require a criminal records check. The same applies to practicum placement students if those students are to provide care or support services to clients. Visitors, such as children, family members, and friends are not required to undergo a criminal records check.

New volunteers who are under the age of 18 years are also required to undergo a criminal records check. Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, it is illegal to disclose any information about charges for young persons for the purposes of background checks. The only exception is when the checks are required by federal, provincial, or municipal legislation.

Vulnerable sector search and the criminal records check

Vulnerable people are considered to be individuals who are at greater risk of being harmed than the general population because of their age, disability or other circumstances, whether temporary or permanent. As service providers under the PPCA are responsible for the safety and well-being of vulnerable people, they may consider requesting a Vulnerable Sector check. However, this check is conducted in addition to a criminal records check and is not explicitly required by the PPCA.

Services providers who are not compliant with requiring criminal records checks

A person who fails to comply may be guilty of an offence under the PPCA. An individual can be fined up to $10,000 and a service provider could be fined up to $100,000.

More information about criminal records checks

For information about criminal records checks and police information checks, consult your local police service.

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