Exemption for Volunteer Criminal History Reviews

There has been a very recent and positive change for agencies who were mandated to have their volunteers reviewed by the BC Ministry of Justice (formerly the Solicitor General), Criminal Records Review Program. Agencies can now request an exemption if they commit to obtain police record checks for their volunteers.

In order to clarify a complicated situation, let’s back up.

In British Columbia there are two systems in place that do criminal record history checks.

  • Police Record Checks at local RCMP/Police detachments. 
  • The Criminal Records Review Program done through the provincial government-Ministry of Justice. This originated in 1996 and became the legislated check for those working with children.

Most agencies who work with vulnerable adults were using the police record checks as it is free of charge (for volunteers).  

However, in 2009 the Ministry of Justice expanded their Criminal Records Review program to include those people (including volunteers) working with vulnerable adults. Agencies which had employees and volunteers working with vulnerable adults at licensed care facilities, including licensed or licensed-not-required child care facilities and licensed after school programs, and facilities licensed under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act (e.g. hospices, seniors residential care homes) were informed that they were now legislated to use the government method.

This change had a huge impact on volunteerism as the provincial review process costs $20.00 per volunteer. Agencies were forced to take funds out of already strapped budgets or have their volunteers pay for their own criminal reviews. Many volunteers who had previously been screened through the police were asked to do it again through the government.

The folks at  Volunteer BC , Administrators of Volunteer Resources BC (AVRBC), along with Community Volunteer Connections, worked hard with the Ministry of Justice regarding the concerns of non-profit organizations and the impact that it was having on volunteerism. We are extremely thankful for what resulted.

Agencies now have a choice. They can request an exemption from the Registar of the Criminal Records Review Program if they commit to obtain police record checks for their volunteers. Or they can choose to continue using the services of the Criminal Records Review program. However, please read the recommendation stated below related to choosing this option. Please note that this exemption applies to volunteers only- employees are still legislated to have their criminal checks done via the government.

Request an Exemption

To request an exemption for your volunteer organization please mail a written request to:

Sam MacLeod, Registrar

Criminal Records Review Program

Ministry of Justice

PO Box 9217 Stn Prov  Govt

Victoria, BC, V8W 9J1 

Please note that this exemption applies to volunteers only- employees are still legislated to have their criminal checks done via the government.


AVRBC,Volunteer BC  and Volunteer Victoria recommend the RCMP/Police Record Check for screening volunteers, for the following reasons:

  • The RCMP/Police Record Check offers the opportunity to screen volunteers based on negative contacts with police and pending charges, rather than focusing more exclusively on convictions. This gives Managers of Volunteers the ability to make informed decisions about placement and supervision to minimize risk and maximize safety.
  • The RCMP/Police Record Checks include a Vulnerable Sector Verification that determines individuals who  have received a pardon for a sexual offence conviction.
  • The RCMP/Police Record Check is free of charge in most communities.(In Greater Victoria, police checks are free for all volunteers). In communities where fees exist, they are collected at the police detachment, making it unnecessary for Volunteer Programs to set up bookkeeping arrangements to track fee payment.

If you have any questions about this topic please contact Lornna Olson at Volunteer Victoria 250-386-2269 or lornna@volunteervictoria.bc.ca


Book an appointment with Personnel Calendar using SetMore