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'Who should pay for volunteer police records checks?' meeting set for next month

A date has been set for a meeting to determine who should bear the cost of volunteer background checks in our community
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A meeting will be held next month in Guelph to help determine who should be responsible for the cost of police background checks for volunteers in the community.

The meeting will be held on Feb. 13 and hosted by the The People and Information Network (PIN), an agency that matches volunteers to organizations that require them.

“We are hosting a community input session that will ask the question – ‘who should pay for police record checks for volunteers’ and seek to understand the impact in the community if fees are introduced across the board,” said Christine Oldfield, executive director of PIN in a press release.

Oldfield said a police check can be an important step in the screening process for some volunteer roles.

“Your child’s sports coach, your grandmother’s weekly friendly visitor or the facilitator of a youth drop in; these are examples of volunteers that would require a Police Record Check because they involve working directly with a vulnerable person in a position of trust or authority,” she said.

PIN has been leading a City of Guelph-funded program named ‘BestMatch’ since 2013 to ensure organizations have appropriate volunteer screening policies and practices in place. The program allows participating non-profits and charities to obtain free police record checks for their volunteers.

The Guelph Police Service will cover the cost for volunteer police records checks for PIN volunteers until the end of December of 2020. Last month the Guelph Police Services Board made it clear that another solution that doesn’t put the burden of the cost of the checks solely on the police service must be made beyond that date.

In a December interview with GuelphToday, Guelph Police Services Board chair Don Drone said more than $70,000 was budgeted for the year 2020 to cover the checks authorized by PIN.

The cost of a background check is currently marked at $40 per person.

In the summer, the Senate released a report on the charitable sector, with one of its recommendations requesting the Government of Canada to work with partners to find ways to alleviate the financial burden on low-budget organizations for needed police checks on volunteers.

Drone has said the police service would like to see the costs spread out between volunteers, organizations who need them, and, possibly, the police.

“We need to understand what the options are for sharing costs and what this will mean for our community, our charities and our volunteers” said Oldfield.

The meeting, titled ‘Who Should Pay For Volunteer Police Records Checks?’ Will be held at 10 a.m. on Feb. 13 at Lakeside Hope House. All those requiring volunteers to complete a police check are invited to the community dialogue

To RSVP, click here.




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