Volunteer security screening

Correctional Service Canada (CSC) volunteers must be security screened and approved to carry out volunteer activities. This section explains:

What is security screening

Security screening is a method used by the Government of Canada to determine if one can:

  • be trusted to safeguard government information and assets
  • reliably conduct their work duties

Security screening collects an individual’s personal information, with their informed consent. It assesses an individual’s reliability to protect the Government of Canada and CSC’s interests. It collects data from:

  • law enforcement
  • intelligence sources, and
  • other sources and methods

The Policy on Government Security of the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) establishes a common standard for anyone with access to:

  • sensitive or protected information, and/or
  • government facilities

This standard applies to:

  • most duties or positions in the federal government and
  • to individuals external to government.

Why CSC volunteers need security screening

Security screening ensures CSC meets its legal obligations to protect sensitive and/or protected information and assets. CSC requires screening policies and procedures to ensure the safety and protection of:

  • volunteers
  • inmates
  • staff, and
  • the general community

CSC must legally:

  • uphold an offender’s right to protection of privacy, and
  • ensure appropriate measures to safeguard confidentiality

Personal information

Personal information is information about an identifiable individual which, when combined, can be considered sensitive and/or protected. Personal information can be recorded in any form. Examples of personal information include:

  • name
  • fingerprint section (FPS) number
  • medical history
  • criminal history
  • psychological history
  • health information
  • the location of an offender, either in an institution or the community
  • employee performance
  • personnel record identifiers

Information management is everyone’s responsibility, including CSC volunteers. Through volunteer orientation and security briefings, CSC informs volunteers of their obligation to protect the information entrusted to them or that they may acquire during the course of their volunteer activities.

Need to know

The Policy on Government Security limits access to sensitive information to what an individual needs to perform their duties. In other words, access is limited to the information one needs to know to carry out one’s duties. Disclosure of personal information to those who do not have a need-to-know is a violation of:

Through the course of volunteer activities, a CSC volunteer may need access to sensitive or protected information. There may be times when a volunteer encounters a situation where they may overhear or see something not intended for them; they should notify their site supervisor.

CSC expects all its volunteers will uphold their role to safeguard CSC protected or sensitive information and/or assets. Volunteers must:

  • maintain confidentiality and
  • not share sensitive or protected information about an offender or CSC operations with anyone who is not CSC staff

This includes:

  • family
  • friends
  • other offenders, and
  • the public

If a CSC volunteer cannot determine what is sensitive or protected information, CSC staff can help.

Types of security screening and their mandatory requirements

As per Commissioner’s Directive (CD) 024 Management of Correctional Service of Canada Volunteers, the employee responsible for coordinating and managing a volunteer’s activities will determine the level of security screening needed. It will depend on:

  • the duties associated with the volunteer activity, and
  • the type of information the individual may need to access while performing those duties

CSC volunteers need one of two types of security status:

  • site access status:
    • is the minimum and allows access to CSC restricted or protected areas or facilities
    • needs mandatory fingerprints (law enforcement inquiry)
  • reliability status:
    • grants access to sensitive or protected Footnote 1 government information or assets
    • needs mandatory fingerprints (law enforcement inquiry) and a credit check (financial inquiry)

Volunteer applicants who are not residents of Canada, or have lived outside of Canada for longer than six months in a row over the last 5 years will be required to account for their activities during that time. Applicants are responsible for providing any documentation requested at their own cost. For more information, please visit the Government of Canada:

Should you refuse to provide consent or not provide all required information, CSC:

  • will cancel all security screening activities
  • terminate:
    • the pending volunteer application process, or
    • participation in CSC volunteer activities, where an existing CSC volunteer is renewing their security status

Fingerprints (aka law enforcement inquiry)

Fingerprints are unique and therefore positively confirm an individual’s identity. They will disclose any history of criminal conviction, which is a key component to the security screening process.

The CSC Volunteer Coordinator (VC) will provide a listing of CSC locations and other agencies/organizations where an individual can go to complete the fingerprinting process.

How a criminal record affects security screening

A criminal record can, but may not be enough, to deny a security screening status. CSC assesses criminal records in regard to:

  • nature and seriousness
  • recency
  • surrounding circumstances
  • willingness to take part and maturity of the individual at the time of the incident(s)
  • degree of rehabilitation
  • potential for:
    • pressure
    • coercion
    • exploitation, or
    • duress

Where a criminal record exists, CSC may interview the individual to allow them to provide circumstantial information surrounding the criminal conviction.

There are no policies providing specifics on a length of time for which an ex-offender must wait to apply as a volunteer. CSC applies the same assessment standards for all individuals applying to volunteer.

Credit check (financial inquiry)

TBS Policy on Government Security mandates that CSC needs a credit check (i.e. a financial inquiry) to assess a volunteer’s:

  • reliability
  • honesty, and
  • trustworthiness

It identifies if a volunteer could be vulnerable to outside influence or commit misconduct under financial duress.

Requesting a financial inquiry does not affect an individual’s credit score.

CSC’s Departmental Security Division (DSD) completes the credit check. Only DSD personnel get the report. It:

  • remains on the individual’s security screening file, which is managed by DSD
  • is not shared as part of the volunteer application process

A credit check (financial inquiry) report includes:

  • an individual’s personal information, for example :
    • name(s)
    • date of birth
    • addresses
  • a detailed history indicating how credit is currently managed and how it was managed in the past, including any:
    • judgements
    • collections
    • consumer proposals
    • bankruptcies
  • a list of companies and financial institutions that have inquired about financial lending

Information that may negatively affect status approval include:

  • an inability to make payments on time
  • accounts placed for collections
  • consumer proposals
  • bankruptcies
  • a very high ratio of debt compared to income

How negative credit information affects security screening

CSC conducts assessments in relation to the volunteer activities to be performed. It is unlikely that negative credit information alone would deny security status to perform CSC volunteer activities. If the credit check suggests a potential risk, DSD will request an interview to discuss the results and get more information.

As per TBS Standard on Security Screening, CSC’s decision-making process evaluates:

  • the sensitivity of the volunteer position
  • the work environment where the duties will be performed
  • the risks associated with giving an individual access to sensitive information, assets, or facilities and

It judges whether such risks are acceptable. The decision must be based on an adequate amount of verifiable information to ensure that it is:

  • fair
  • objective, and
  • defensible

The security screening process

A Government of Canada department or agency must sponsor requests for a Government of Canada security status or clearance.

As part of the CSC volunteer application process:

  • A CSC volunteer coordinator (VC) provides information and guidance on how to complete the security screening form, which is available on this Government of Canada’s web site:
  • Applicant completes, signs and returns the form to the CSC VC to facilitate next steps
  • CSC’s Departmental Security Division:
    • processes the request for security status, and
    • conducts verifications and assessments

When an applicant holds a valid Government of Canada security status, CSC may:

  • confirm its validity, and
  • determine whether it meets the security screening requirements for the individual to carry out the proposed CSC volunteer activity

Cost of completing security screening

There are no costs associated to completing the security screening form when applying to become a CSC volunteer.

Sometimes one may have to go to another agency/organization to complete the fingerprinting process. If, in this case, one must personally pay for the cost of the law enforcement inquiry, CSC will reimburse the individual based on supporting documentation. The CSC VC can provide assistance in processing a claim.

How long the screening process takes

CSC has no set service standards on the length of time it takes to process a security screening. However, CSC makes every effort to process security screenings as quickly as possible. If your screening results are still pending after 30 days, the CSC VC can request a status verification from DSD.

When you can begin volunteering

Site staff are responsible for the coordination of volunteer activities at CSC. They must ensure that, before volunteering, all CSC volunteers:

  • complete CSC’s national volunteer orientation (NVO)
  • complete CSC-approved training, where needed
  • have a valid security screening status, and
  • receive a CSC volunteer identification card

Relevant policy

For more information

CSC keeps all information about you confidential. CSC only uses your information to decide whether to approve your application. If you have questions about the security screening process, please contact:

To learn more about how to become a CSC volunteer, review:

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