Name Changes Will Now Require A Criminal Record Check
According to the Government of Saskatchewan, a criminal record check will now be required when anyone 18 years of age or older requests a name change.
Changes have been made to the regulations for The Change of Name Act, calling for criminal record checks as part of the application process.
Talon Regent, Lawyer with Regent Law, explains why the government would make this change.
"This came into effect because there have been a few hot issues recently where past criminals have changed their name and then gone on to commit other crimes. The hope or expectation with this change is that when these people go to make a change to their name, that will be blocked, and individuals in the community will be better able to track these past criminals."
There are more than 20 offences that would prevent a name change application from being granted. Offences that would prevent a change in name are ones that require a person to be listed on the National Sex Offender Registry.
Justice Minister, Don Morgan stated that the changes are about helping to protect the most vulnerable in our society. Offences are mainly against children or those of a sexual nature, such as sexual assault and incest.
Regent went on to say that he's a bit hesitant about the decision and that he believes there are better routes to take.
"I don't particularly think its a good or a bad thing. Rather than taking a step like this, they ought to be investing in better rehabilitation and a better criminal justice system. This largely isn't going to have much of an impact except to create an extra hassle for people that have legitimate reasons for wanting to change their name."
If any of the criminal record checks show a criminal record or is inconclusive, then that person will need to be fingerprinted and provide the Registrar of Vital Statistics with a further criminal record check that shows the offences. If there is no criminal record showing on the criminal record check, the change of name may be processed.
While it may seem like something that isn't very common, Regent says there are some legitimate reasons someone may want to change their given name.
"In the case of somebody who's become common law, or maybe you're a child that wants to become legally adopted and change your name to that of your adoptive parents, or maybe its somebody who's got the same name as an individual that's committed a crime, and you want to change your name so that you're not associated with that person when somebody looks you up online."
Regent says those who change their name due to marriage, divorce, or after being widowed, will not need a criminal record check.
Saskatchewan is the first province that may reject a request for a name change because of certain criminal offences.