Myth: I can still get a pardon for my past criminal record.
Fact: In 2012 Federal legislation was passed changing the term Pardon to Record Suspension. Changes were also made on the waiting periods to receive a record suspension and on the eligibility.
What is a Record Suspension?
A Record Suspension (formerly called a pardon) is an order that keeps a person’s criminal record (of convictions) separate and apart from other criminal records. This means a person’s convictions will not be revealed on criminal record checks. It does not erase a criminal record.
Record suspensions allow people who have made positive life changes to be freed from many of the negative impacts of having a criminal record. People have the right not to be discriminated against because of a criminal conviction for which they have received a record suspension.
The Parole Board of Canada is responsible for granting, denying and revoking record suspensions. If a record suspension is related to a sexual offence, the file will be ‘flagged’ in the RCMP system and will still be revealed on a vulnerable sector check.
Who is eligible?
As of 2012, you are no longer eligible for a record suspension if you have been convicted of:
a Schedule 1 Offence (sexual offence involving a child) under the Criminal Records Act;
more than three (3) offences prosecuted by indictment each with a prison sentence of two (2) years or more.
You can apply for a pardon only if you meet all 3 of the following conditions. There are no exceptions.
- You have completed your sentence, meaning you completed paying any fines, surcharges, compensation and restitution orders, completed any probation orders or conditional sentence, and served all of your sentence including parole/ statutory release;
- You have met the required wait times:
5 years for a summary offence (or a service of-fence under the National Defense Act); or
10 years for an indictable offence (or a service offence under the National Defense Act for which you were fined more than $5,000, detained or imprisoned for more than 6 months).
- You have been of ‘good conduct,’ have not been convicted of any new offences, and have no new charges or outstanding fees (including traffic tickets).
How do I apply?
Get a Record Suspension Application Guide and Form from the Parole Board of Canada. Print one out from:
The application process is described in the Application Guide. Make sure to follow the instructions carefully. The process involves:
Getting your criminal record from the RCMP and local police service for the city or town where you live now (your current address) AND for each city or town where you have lived during the last 5 years (if you lived in that city or town for 3 months or more)
Paying an application fee ($631 as of May 2012)
Depending on your conviction and sentence, you may also need to submit your Court Information, Proof of Conviction, Military Conduct Sheet or Immigration documents. There are costs associated with obtaining these documents.
If you have submitted your application after February 2012, the Parole Board of Canada will generally make a decision about your application within 6 months for summary offences, and within 12 months for indictable offences.
(Source John Howard Society of Ontario)
For more information on a Record Suspension click on the below link.
Chief Executive Officer
John Howard Society of Saskatchewan