A cost-benefit analysis conducted by consulting firm RIAS Inc. for the Parole Board of Canada says operations have changed significantly since the legislative changes regarding pardon applications. The number of legitimate applicants for a criminal pardon is expected to plunge by almost half under stricter new rules. The law requires the Parole Board to assess the behaviour of applicants from the time of their conviction to ensure granting a pardon would not “bring the administration of justice into disrepute.”
Board staff now requires more time to obtain additional information from applicants, research cases, wait for responses to queries from criminal justice participants, build files, and make recommendations. In addition, board members require more time to review cases and to make decisions based on the merits of each case.
As a result, the Conservative government wants to hike the cost of seeking a pardon to $631 from the current $150, saying taxpayers should not have to subsidize the process. The move to hike the price is in the final stages of approval under the User Fees Act. Such a fee increase means that fewer people are expected to apply, and more will be screened out early on.
An individual with a criminal record faces many roadblocks in life, and receiving a pardon eases the burden. A pardon doesn’t erase a person’s criminal record; rather, it removes the federal records of a criminal conviction from federal databases so that it is no longer visible and cannot be accessed. A pardon thus makes it easier to get a job, travel, find accommodation, arrange a loan … in essence, return to society and live an unencumbered life.
About 10 per cent of Canadians, which is over three million people, have a criminal record. Under the former legislation, the Parole Board of Canada received about 37,000 pardon applications a year — 27,750 of which were complete enough to be processed.
A law passed in 2010 toughened the requirements and, in some cases, increased the waiting times for pardon applicants. Under the current legislation, the Board anticipates 25,000 applications annually— expecting to evaluate only 15,000 (down from 27,750) of which will be eligible for processing.
Critics say the planned fee hike will mean a tougher path for convicts trying to turn their lives around. That’s because the law now demands more detailed information, including more supporting documentation, says the analysis. Applicants may also require more time and effort to complete applications.
These are estimates based on historical intake, but of course, actual applications received and percentage accepted for processing will only be known with time, following any increase in the user fee.
If you need a pardon, contact Pardon Services Canada to assist you. A Client Specialist will ensure that all the required forms are created and compiled to support your application. Pardon Services Canada’s pro-active approach ensures that your case is processed expeditiously and you will be kept informed at each stage of the process. Your pardon is guaranteed.