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On November 17, the CCLA joined with dozens of other organizations to urge the federal government to revamp the way Canada deals with old criminal records. The Fresh Start Coalition is calling on the federal government to implement a ‘spent regime’, which would automatically seal a person’s criminal record if they have successfully completed their sentence and lived in the community without further criminal convictions. The coalition has a diverse membership of mental health organizations, violence against women organizations, poverty advocates, Indigenous- and Black-led organizations, and more.

For people who have been caught up in the criminal justice system, finding steady employment is a critical part of rebuilding their lives and helping prevent further contact with the justice system. The presence of a criminal record prevents people from getting a job, and the stability that comes with it.  Canadian law currently allows people to apply for a record suspension, to lift the burden of an old criminal record—but the system, as it stands is broken. It is slow, difficult to navigate, and expensive. People with old criminal records are too often facing unnecessary, counterproductive barriers to reintegration.

The Canadian government knows change is needed. In 2016, it began to make promises to reform Canada’s arcane criminal record suspension regime. Over five years later, Canadians are still waiting for change, and vulnerable people continue to suffer.

Revisiting how Canada deals with old criminal records would dramatically increase individuals’ chances of accessing employment, transforming people’s lives, increasing community safety, and curbing systemic discrimination. The full list of supporting organizations to date is below.

Read the news release

Lire le communiqué en français

Visit the coalition’s website,

The groups joining the call today include:

  • Alliance for Healthier Communities
  • Aboriginal Legal Services
  • Assaulted Women’s Helpline (AWHL)
  • Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic
  • Bethesda House
  • Black Community Action Network Peel
  • Black Legal Action Centre
  • British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
  • Canadian Association of Black Lawyers
  • Canadian Associations of Elizabeth Fry Societies
  • Canadian Civil Liberties Association
  • Canadian Council of Muslim Women
  • Canadian Mental Health Association National
  • Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario
  • Canadian Prison Law Association
  • Cannabis Amnesty
  • The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
  • Criminal Lawyers’ Association
  • The Elizabeth Fry Society of Cape Breton
  • Elizabeth Fry Society of Kamloops
  • Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia
  • Elizabeth Fry Society of New Brunswick
  • Elizabeth Fry Society of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Elizabeth Fry Society of Northern Alberta
  • Elizabeth Fry Society of North-Eastern Ontario
  • Elizabeth Fry Society of Saskatchewan
  • Elizabeth Fry Toronto
  • Elliot Lake Women’s Group Inc.
  • Empowerment Council
  • Halton Community Legal Clinic
  • Health Justice Program
  • HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario
  • HIV Legal Aid Network
  • Hope 24/7
  • Huron Women’s Shelter
  • Inasmuch House & Women’s Services, Mission Services of Hamilton
  • Indigenous Bar Association
  • John Howard Society of Canada
  • John Howard Society of New Brunswick
  • John Howard Society of Ontario
  • John Howard Society of Saskatchewan
  • Kinna-aweya Legal Clinic
  • Lanark County Interval House
  • Luke’s Place
  • Mothers Offering Mutual Support (MOMS)
  • Muskoka Parry Sound Sexual Assault Services
  • Neighbourhood Legal Services
  • Network of Women with Disabilities (NOW)
  • Niagara Community Legal Clinic
  • Ontario Alliance to End Homelessness
  • Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH)
  • Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres
  • Ottawa Coalition To End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW)
  • Peel Alliance to End Homelessness
  • Prisoners’ Legal Services
  • Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan
  • Queen’s Prison Law Clinic
  • Resolve Counselling Services
  • Saint John Learning Exchange
  • The Social Economy Through Social Inclusion Coalition (SETSI)
  • The Women & Children’s Shelter (Barrie)
  • Thunder Woman Healing Lodge Society
  • Timmins and Area Women in Crisis
  • Toronto Prisoners’ Rights Project
  • Victim Services of Durham Region
  • Women’s Shelter Canada
  • YWCA Cambridge

Please read statement from the press conference here.

Lire la déclaration faite pendant la conférence presse ici.

About the Canadian Civil Liberties Association

The CCLA is an independent, non-profit organization with supporters from across the country. Founded in 1964, the CCLA is a national human rights organization committed to defending the rights, dignity, safety, and freedoms of all people in Canada.

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