Are Pardons Still Being Processed During COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected the Canadian government’s efficiency in providing services, and pardon applications are no exception. For those living with a criminal record, current times are especially challenging. Finding employment and housing can be a struggle if you have a criminal record, but the pandemic has only added to the problem by making the process of obtaining a pardon even more difficult.

Under normal circumstances, a pardon application in Canada could be completed in 10 to 18 months. How has the pandemic affected these processing times? Are pardons processed during COVID-19 at all?

Pardon application challenges during COVID-19

  • Fingerprinting

One of the components of a pardon application in Canada is a set of fingerprints. This part of the process has been greatly affected by the pandemic. In fact, the RCMP and private fingerprinting companies temporarily suspended their fingerprinting services, causing people to wonder if obtaining fingerprints for pardons was even still possible for a while.

It’s understandable that an in-person, close-contact procedure such as fingerprinting would be restricted or fully suspended for health and safety reasons after the outbreak of COVID-19. Some police stations have removed their restrictions throughout the course of the pandemic, but delays are still plaguing the entire fingerprinting industry.

This significantly contributes to delays in pardon application processing, but it’s not the only factor to consider in the big picture.

  • Court procedures

COVID-19 health guidelines have caused major delays in court processing and resulted in massive restrictions to courts’ activities in general. This causes the courts to prioritize the most urgent cases, potentially affecting the processing time of pardon applications. This is primarily because a pardon application requires a Court Information Form to confirm eligibility.

Obtaining a Court Information Form is still a source of significant delays, further adding to the overall slowdown in Canada pardons processing times.

  • Police services

As with most Canadian government institutions, the RCMP has been deeply affected by the pandemic. Police departments including the RCMP have had to cut their services in general to focus on emergency matters. Front-counter services such as local police checks are restricted as a result. When it comes to obtaining a pardon, local police must confirm in writing that the pardon applicant has no outstanding charges or convictions in that area.

Since obtaining a local police check is a crucial part of the pardon application process, it’s clear that police service cuts also contribute to delays in processing times.

  • Government decision delays

The Parole Board of Canada has released a statement saying that it currently has “limited capacity to process Record Suspension applications, which will result in delays in their processing.”  The estimated processing time from when an application is fully completed and submitted is from 3-12 months. This makes the process of waiting for a decision from the Parole Board even more stressful for applicants.

Delays in processing from the Parole Board of Canada should clear up as government health restrictions start to ease, but they are nevertheless still greatly affecting the total processing time of current Canada pardon applications.

What’s the takeaway?

Although they are experiencing significant delays, the good news is that pardon applications are still being processed by the Canadian government. Plus, some Canadian pardon applications firms have shifted to a more efficient system of remote work that can accelerate the process of putting together your application, so it’s still a good idea to consider hiring a professional to help with your application.

While delays in key steps such as fingerprinting and court document acquisition have greatly affected processing times, the situation is not hopeless – and it won’t last forever.

Starting the rebuilding process

Obtaining a Canada pardon is still an important part of re-entering society for individuals with a criminal conviction on their record. The COVID-19 pandemic has made life more difficult for everyone, but those living with a criminal record face their own unique challenges when it comes to simply living a normal life in Canadian society.

A pardon helps those individuals start the path to re-building their life by removing a significant obstacle. Increased delays shouldn’t be a deterrent from seeking out a Canada pardon and taking that first step.

Consult an experienced professional if you’re seeking to apply for a Canadian pardon. They can help you navigate the process and reach a successful outcome. You’ll be able to have peace of mind knowing your application has been properly put together and has the best chance of being approved despite processing delays.


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