Volunteers who need a police records check will soon have to pay for the document, as the city's police services board votes to begin charging all volunteers for the service.
The decision aims to recover the costs of processing about 83,000 background checks per year for members of the public, but employees who require a background check for their job will now pay less.
The fee changes approved by the police services board will take effect September 1, when volunteers will have to pay $10 per police check. That fee will rise to $20 on January 1, 2020. Until now, volunteers in Ottawa only paid if they wanted their check expedited.
Organizations that rely on volunteers asked the police services board to maintain the free option for volunteers, citing the effect that charging for police checks would have on the pool of available volunteers.
"The reliance on volunteers is only going to increase," said Marie Eveline, of Volunteer Ottawa. "Any deterrent that is put in place which will impact on the recruitment of volunteers should not be considered in our city."
"We beg and plead for volunteers, even at the beginning of the season," said Guillermo Alverado, the director of operations for a youth soccer club in Orleans. "We are short on coaches and assistant coaches."
"We feel that the fees would limit the number of people that would be available for our association," Alverado told the board.
The fee structure that imposes a charge on volunteers also lowers the cost of a police records check for an employee; anyone who requires a check for their job will now pay $65. The fee for employer-required police checks had been increased to $90 at the beginning of the year.