Vulnerable Sector Checks

Discover the facts about vulnerable
sector checks
Get Started

Vulnerable Sector Checks and the need for them can often be confusing. Organizations tasked with incorporating these checks into their background screening policy are challenged by the time, effort, and monetary expense associated with the check and often don't fully understand its need and limitations.

Hand holding hearts image
Hand holding hearts image

Who Needs a Vulnerable Sector Check?

A Vulnerable Sector Check (VSC) or Vulnerable Sector Verification (VSV) may ONLY be requested for a person who wishes to take a volunteer or paid position working with children, the elderly, the disabled, or another vulnerable group. The position should be one of direct care, authority, or trust, and generally in an unsupervised (or limited supervision) setting. Only the police service of jurisdiction where the applicant lives may conduct a VSC and it will assess the position before conducting the check. Should this type of check be requested and your position does NOT meet these requirements, part of your check may NOT be completed.

Criminal icon image
If you do NOT require a Vulnerable Sector Check, learn more about the Criminal Record Check.

What is a Vulnerable Sector Check?

A VSC is a three-part check designed for people who volunteer, or work in position of trust or authority over children or another vulnerable group. It’s comprised of:

Icon image
Criminal Record Check (CRC)
Informs whether an applicant has a criminal record
Icon image
Local Police Information Check (LPI)
Also known as a “Judicial Matters Check” in Ontario
Icon image
Vulnerable Sector Query (VSQ)
A search for sexual offences subject to a record suspension (formerly known as a pardon)
A Vulnerable Sector Query (VSQ) is the ONLY unique component of the check.
Apart from that, it is a Criminal Record Check and a search of Local Police Information.

What is a Vulnerable Sector Query (VSQ)?

A VSQ is a search for sexual offences and can only be initiated by a Police Service. A VSQ is an option that is selected when a Criminal Record Check is conducted by police using CPIC. 1 The VS query option is disabled in the mandatory CPIC query channels the RCMP assigns to police agencies for conducting CPIC checks on behalf of third-party companies. If a third-party company indicates it can provide a Vulnerable Sector Check service, the claim should be scrutinized. The purpose of the VSQ is to initiate a process that may result in the potential disclosure of specific sealed conviction(s) listed in the Criminal Records Act.

These consist of 60 offences that are current or historical. A conviction is sealed when an individual applies to the Parole Board of Canada and receives a record suspension (formerly referred to as a pardon). Disclosure of sealed convictions is subject to Ministerial approval and occurs in less than 0.005% of all VSQs initiated annually. 2 Access to Information Requests have established that of the over 2 million Vulnerable Sector Queries initiated by police services each year, less than 0.005% result in a positive match as confirmed by fingerprints. A subset of this percentage constitutes the number of eventual disclosures that the Minister approves.

A police officer is working at his desk


Organizations are challenged to weigh the benefit that might accrue from obtaining an eventual disclosure versus the intractability of a requirement that can only be met by sending applicants to a police front counter.

These facts are established:
  • The disclosure rate is less than 0.005% of annual VSQs that are initiated — and it is declining.
  • Pardon Recipients can have Pardons for convictions that may be disclosed and may be relevant.
  • Pardon recipients comprise a decreasing presence in applicant pools. It excludes anyone born after 1994, etc
  • Record Suspension Recipients are individuals who have met criteria to overcome the threshold of ineligibility now prescribed in the law. This means their offences lack elements of trust or authority and violence either committed, attempted or threatened.

Get Started with Vulnerable Sector Checks

Have employees or volunteers who will be working with vulnerable groups? Get started with our Vulnerable Sector Checks . Click the option that best describes you.

Job candidate? Click here