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Criminal Record Screening

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Approved by Council: September 2002
Reviewed and Updated: September 2012; March 2013

Downloadable Version: Criminal Record Screening

Other References: Guide to Acceptable Criminal Record Checks



The purpose of this policy is to clarify the College's responsibility, as part of its fiduciary duties to the public, to ensure applicants for certificates of registration to practice medicine in Ontario and CPSO members applying for a transfer in certificate class submit to criminal record screening in order to enhance the safety of the health-care environment. In addition to the criminal record screening provided for in this policy, the College also carries out criminal record screens for all new physician members of Council after their election to Council and for all new physician non-Council committee members as part of the College’s governance protocols.



This policy will affect all applicants for a first-time certificate of registration, regardless of class of registration and all CPSO members applying for a transfer in certificate class.



  1. The Council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario affirms that all Ontario citizens have the right to receive and/or provide health care in a safe environment, free from intrusions or threats to their dignity or person. This right applies equally to members of the public, physicians and allied health professionals.
  2. While the vast majority of physicians providing health services in Ontario have not and will not intentionally harm those in their care, or with whom they provide services, the Council asserts that the process of criminal record screening forms part of its legislated duty to regulate physicians in the public interest in order to help ensure the safety of all participants in the health system.
  3. The Council acknowledges that the results of a criminal record screen may not be predictive of future behaviour and they cannot guarantee the good character of a physician or whether he or she might pose a future safety risk. Nevertheless, the Council endorses the criminal record screening policy as part of its efforts to promote the safety and quality of the health-care environment.
  4. The Council supports the principles of openness and accountability. Criminal record screening provides official confirmation of information already self-reported by physicians on CPSO applications for certificates of practice. This official confirmation enhances the transparency of College processes and the accountability of the College and the profession to the public.


  1. As a requirement of registration all Ontario physicians must submit to a criminal record screen.
  2. The screen will be completed by running a criminal record check against the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) computerized database at the time of application for a certificate of registration in the province of Ontario, or by receipt of a valid letter of clearance based on a CPIC check conducted no longer than six months before the date of submission of application to the College.
  3. Criminal record screening is required in the following circumstances:
    1. For all applicants for a first-time certificate of registration, regardless of class of registration; and
    2. For CPSO members applying for a transfer in certificate class.
  4. Positive findings arising from the criminal record screen will be considered for further action by the College based on the following criteria;
    1. The time period of the conviction;
    2. The seriousness of the offence; and
    3. The relevance of the details of the offence to the practice of medicine.
  5. The cost of conducting the criminal record screen will be borne by the applicant.