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But what I won't do is submit to a criminal record check for the privilege of volunteering to do it. That's an ask too far.
I'm not certain when the Human Resources department of the RMOW decided they wanted their Village Host volunteers to undergo a criminal record check but I do know it's a misguided, heavy-handed and unnecessary intrusion and, quite frankly, damn insulting.
The ostensible reason the RMOW demanded the intrusive background checks was because Village Hosts might deal with children — lost children — and vulnerable people. Vulnerable people include children, the elderly and people with disabilities; it's a statutory definition arising out of the Criminal Records Review Act of 1996, which was originally designed to help protect children from people whose criminal record shows they pose a risk of physical or sexual abuse. The Act was expanded in 2009 to include vulnerable adults.
There are a number of people in varied jobs — those who work with or have unsupervised access to children and vulnerable adults — who are required by law to have these checks. That only makes sense for doctors, nurses, teachers and such.
Some volunteers, such as those in day cares and after school programs need to get checked. But the vast majority of volunteers are not required by law to get checked. Ironically, nannies, babysitters, child minders for a private company, municipal employees, and others do not require a criminal background check. So if I worked for the muni, I wouldn't need one but if I volunteer....
In several seasons hosting, I dealt with one lost child. A warm reunion was arranged within minutes. I dealt with countless vulnerable persons, many elderly, some with disabilities and quite a few who where going to wet themselves if they didn't find a toilet in the next few seconds. They were, of course, tangential and incidental to the business at hand — giving directions and answering questions. The opportunity to abuse them physically or sexually would have required a conspiracy of my fellow hosts and a whole lot more imagination than I possess.
Now, I don't have a criminal record. I know that may come as a surprise to some of you but I managed to get away with everything I've ever done that might have earned me one and none of it involved physical or sexual abuse of anyone other than myself or whomever was stupid enough to go climbing with me. Just for the record, those instances involved physical abuse of a self-inflicted, consensual, granite-against-skin nature.
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