A criminal record check is not a requirement for enrolling in most major Canadian universities. You can attend any Canadian university with a criminal record as this is not something that admissions boards take into consideration when reviewing applications. However, most educational institutions will require you to obtain a criminal background check, or vulnerable sector check, if you plan on entering a field that involves working with children or vulnerable adults such as teaching and the healthcare industry.


Do I need a criminal record check for practicum?

If you are thinking about pursuing a future in education, childcare, elderly care, or working with any other vulnerable population in any capacity, you will most likely be asked to obtain a vulnerable sector check. In fact, all major Canadian universities require vulnerable sector checks before students apply for education practicums.

The University of British Columbia takes the protection of the vulnerable a step further by denying students who have demonstrated a history of financial crimes if the student wishes to work with vulnerable adults. Financial crimes will show up on a regular background check, fortunately, you do not need to worry about financial crimes on your record if you have received a record suspension.

What is a vulnerable sector check?

A vulnerable sector check is a type of background check that will uncover any sexual offences that may be hidden from your record due to receiving a record suspension. What this means is that if you have successfully gone through the record suspension process, a vulnerable sector check will still be able to uncover any sexual offences on your record despite having the record suspension. Sexual offences are the only offences that can show up on a vulnerable sector check.

This is not a new policy, as it has been in place since 2000. The Canadian government places great emphasis on the protection of children and other vulnerable persons, which is why businesses and organizations that involve working with the vulnerable sector are allowed to ask potential and existing employees or volunteers for the vulnerable sector check.


How do I get a vulnerable sector check?

If your practicum program requires you to obtain a vulnerable sector check, it is best to refer to the information provided by your program administrator. Typically, vulnerable sector checks occur in the following way:

To obtain a vulnerable sector check, you can attend your local police station with the description of the position that is requiring the check and details about the vulnerable persons you will be working with. A name-based search will be conducted, but in some situations, the officers may take your fingerprints. Once completed, the vulnerable sector check will be sent directly to the organization that requested the check to be done.


Entering the job market post-graduation

After graduating from university, or successfully completing your practicum, your criminal record can still play a role in your ability to find stable employment, even if your vulnerable sector check comes back clean. If you have a criminal record, without a record suspension, but no sexual offences, your criminal record could affect your ability to get a job in the vulnerable sector field as you would be compared against other potential candidates with no criminal record. In this case, it is your best option to obtain a record suspension if you are eligible to do so. Click here to determine if you would be eligible for a record suspension.


Once hired, you may be asked by your employer to supply an updated criminal background check after a certain period of time. For example, British Columbia requires teachers to renew their criminal and vulnerable sector checks every 5 years. Your teaching certificate can be suspended if you fail to comply with this rule.



Nursing, dentistry, and other healthcare professions

Healthcare is a booming industry in Canada with a lot of demand for new hires. As with teachers, healthcare professionals are also required to have a criminal record check. To see more about how your criminal record can affect your health care career before your practicum even begins, click here to visit our blog post that will tell you all about having a future in medicine with a criminal record. Since professionals in the healthcare industry often work with very young and elderly patients, this is also a field in which a vulnerable sector check will be highly applicable.

Banking and financial jobs

Banks and other financial service providers will often screen potential employees for criminal records. It is a good idea to get ahead of this before you graduate by going through the record suspension process before you apply to any financial institutions because crimes like theft or forgery may lower your chances of getting hired. If you find yourself ineligible for gaining a record suspension in time, take a look at our tips here on how to get your preferred job even with a criminal record.

There are many other jobs and industries that require criminal background checks, click here to learn more, so it is a good idea to look into your options while you are still in the process of pursuing your degree. In fact, 3.8 million Canadians have a criminal record and there are about 1 million students in Canadians attending post-secondary institutions each year, so you can bet there is some crossover and that you are not alone! Obtaining a record suspension has become a normal part of life for many job-seeking students.

Don’t let a criminal record hold you back from getting an education

It is always important to be aware of what limitations a criminal record can have on your life pursuits. This is especially important to keep in mind when looking to achieve a degree or complete a practicum in your chosen field of study. Fortunately, there are ways to continue your education into the post-secondary and pursue your dream job even with a criminal record!


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