Ottawa police consider price hike for volunteer background checks

Ottawa police consider price hike for volunteer background checks

Volunteers would face new costs for police background checks under a plan the Ottawa police service board is set to consider next week.

The board is getting a report on the issue next week and could cast a vote on the change in June. Right now volunteers pay nothing, but the new proposal would see them or the organizations they work with pay $20 for each check.

Last year, in an attempt to ensure the police were recovering all the costs of the background check program, the board changed the fee structure.

Previously, people seeking checks for new employment paid $15, but to ensure the police were recovering all their costs they increased that to $90. The costs for volunteer checks remained at zero.

Even with that increase, the police force is still using $400,000 of its budget to subsidize background checks.

Big hike

Some employers in the non-profit sector said the $90 fee was difficult on their staff and made it hard to recruit new positions. Some organizations said for summer students the $90 could be a big chunk of their potential income.

Staff reviewing options for changing the fees found that Ottawa is alone in its policy that volunteers don't have to pay.

"A common theme emerged from this exercise in that Ottawa appeared to be the only major city who waived a background check fee for volunteers," reads the report.

If the proposed changes go ahead the increase would be phased in, with volunteers paying $10 per check for the rest of this year and then $20 starting in January.

Employment checks would go down from $90 to $65 and the program would pay for itself, the report said.