Criminal check fees up in Central Kootenays

Residents in Salmo, Nelson, Kaslo, New Denver and Nakusp will pay $50 for employment-related checks and $20 for volunteer-based checks.

Central Kootenay residents in need of criminal record checks will soon be expected to pony up funds.

Starting Monday, residents serviced by RCMP detachments in Salmo, Nelson, Kaslo, New Denver and Nakusp will begin to pay $50 for employment-related checks and $20 for volunteer-based checks.

The revenue generated through the collection of these fees will fund a position that is dedicated solely to processing criminal record checks. Criminal record check applicants can now expect to receive their completed checks much quicker than has occurred in the past when waiting periods reached several weeks in some cases.

Inspector Nick Romanchuk explained that support resources have been stretched thin and the introduction of the fees is one way of reducing the burden to allow staff to complete other necessary duties.

“I don’t know what the exact numbers are but we process hundreds and probably thousands of these criminal record checks a year throughout the West Kootenay Boundary and it’s just incredibly cumbersome and it was just something that was just becoming overwhelming for us to manage,” he said, noting the process began in Greater Trail a number of years ago and expanded to the Boundary last year.

“I think it was a matter of capacity,” he said of the delay to integrate the fees at detachments like Salmo. “When we expanded into the Boundary a year ago, we wanted to see how it worked, if all the processes worked properly and so on. It did, it worked out very well so now we’ve decided to expand it further.”

Tim Payne with the Arrow and Slocan Lakes Community Services (ASLCS) in Nakusp says volunteerism as well as people seeking work will feel the impact of the fees.

“It will definitely have an effect,” he said, when he learned about the new fees being introduced.

“It’s definitely going to create barriers to businesses as well as individuals,” said Payne, “A lot of people starting new jobs find a lot of industry require criminal record checks.”

The checks are a common requirement for many kinds of employment, he added.

“Any human service industry where you’re working with folks, being in a position of respect and trust…when you need to be bondable, or are working with merchandise or money,” he listed.

The fees, which may or may not be reimbursed, can be daunting for people getting back into the job market, said Payne.

But the job market isn’t the only place that will feel the effects, claims Payne, who also believes volunteerism will also be affected.

“Volunteers already don’t make any money for their time,” he said. Payne believes when it’s going to cost them to volunteer, some people are going to think again.

While Romanchuk said he did receive some negative feedback from organizations that rely heavily on volunteers and a tight budget, he said the move was necessary.

“We had the odd complaint but this is what was happening before, we used to have an entire church congregation coming to us and having every member of the congregation submit a criminal record check,” he said. “That’s an absolute waste of our time and by charging fees, it’s eliminated a lot of that.”

For his part, Tim Payne would like to see a slide scale of fees for criminal record checks which is fair to those seeking the checks and those processing them.