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New Ontario Mental Health Guidelines: No Longer Part Of Police Background Checks

TORONTO - Mentally ill people in Ontario who have non-criminal contact with police may no longer have to worry about it showing up during background checks.

New guidelines out today aim to bring in a province-wide standard stopping such information from being allowed into the reports in the first place.

Previously, there were no rules on what police forces in Ontario should put in background checks, which many employers and volunteer agencies require before hiring someone.

Schizophrenia Society of Ontario head Mary Alberti says that under the old system even a police escort of a mentally ill person to the hospital had the potential to show up in the reports.

She says such disclosures can be a barrier to mentally ill people getting jobs, and discourage them from seeking work in the first place.

Susan Cardwell, a police records official in Durham, Ont. who helped write the guidelines, says the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police will be working to put the guidelines into place for provincial and municipal forces in the province.

She expects that most police services will be following the guidelines within the next three months.

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