by Ethan Paquet
When Dianne Young founded Lennon House in Rustico, a residential facility aimed to help individuals dealing with mental health and addictions, she set the requirement for staff to have a clean criminal record. When one applicant admitted to having a criminal record, Dianne had to make a tough decision.
“The potential employee was honest and told us there were some charges from the past when this person was active in addiction. We asked the person to sign a form telling Lennon House what the charges were, and that they had been in recovery for at least two years without relapse.”
It may have been a big risk, but it was the employee’s honesty about the criminal record as well as the experience in the recovery journey that made this person such a good candidate, Dianne says.
“We have 10 full-time and five part-time staff. We hire people with lived experience, who are in recovery themselves and have knowledge of the recovery community.”
When residents are ready to move on to finding employment, Lennon House is there to help.
“We hope to work with farmers and businesses to help our residents find employment. We also have the John Howard Society of PEI work with the residents.”
At the John Howard Society, clients can participate in the Employment Assistance program, which helps with resumé writing, active job search skills, GED preparation, and employment counseling. They can also get help to find housing and complete pardon applications.
Dianne has advice for those who have a criminal record. “Wherever you go on your journey to find employment, staying honest and up-front about your past will play a part in giving you a chance to prove yourself. Keep on the recovery journey and do whatever it takes to make the changes that need to take place.”
Part 1 Section 6 (1) of the PEI Human Rights Act states that an individual, company or organization cannot dismiss or refuse to employ an individual because of a criminal or summary conviction offence that is unrelated to the position. Hypothetically, this means if someone had a recent impaired driving charge, they can be refused a long-haul trucking job, but not a receptionist job, for example. However, this does not extend to volunteer work.
The PEI Human Rights Act relating to discrimination due to a criminal record can be found online at www.gov.pe.ca/humanrights. If you have general questions or concerns, contact the PEI Human Rights Commission at 902-368-4180 or [email protected]
To learn more about Lennon House and the services they provide, visit www.lennonhouse.ca.
For more about the John Howard Society of PEI and how they can help you find employment with a criminal record, or help request a pardon, call 902-566-5425.