Chief Blair proposes higher background check fees to curb backlog

Watch video above: Toronto Police Chief proposes increasing fees for criminal background checks. Sean Mallen reports. 

TORONTO – Toronto police Chief Bill Blair is recommending increased fees to help alleviate the backlog in background checks.

The Toronto Star reports the extra cash will go towards hiring 13 new staff to boost screening process times at a cost of close to $1 million.

The Toronto Police Services Board is struggling to manage a backlog in background checks that grows by 200 new requests each day and reached almost 17,000 requests last year.

READ MORE: Backlog in Toronto police criminal-background checks puts jobs at risk

The backlog could also get worse for students, health care workers, teachers and others who need the checks to secure job acceptance and school placements, if the RCMP makes fingerprinting a mandatory part of the process.

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Blair’s recommendations, which will be presented at the board’s meeting on Thursday, include increasing the cost of checks to $65 from $50 for employment and to $20 from $15 for volunteers.

A new “tiered system” would also permit applicants to get their screening time shortenered to 72 hours at a cost of $110 for employment and $65 for volunteers.

Police checks look for past criminal records and are required in a variety of workplaces, especially if children or other vulnerable persons are involved.

Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash told Global News last month that a smaller staff and greater increase in demand has led to the backlog.

“We’re just emerging now from three years of a hiring freeze where many, many people who left weren’t replaced,” said Pugash. “We faced the last several years of reduced staff combined with an increased in demand.

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WATCH: Canada’s largest school board is considering requiring all parent volunteers to undergo police background checks before setting foot in the classroom or accompanying students on school trips.

With files from Andrew Russell and Mark McAllister

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