Shomporko Desk:-OTTAWA — The government has quietly comfortable a demand to fingerprint potential new federal hires as a major aspect of security screening, a move provoked by the requirement for physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A transitory change to the bureaucratic standard on security screening permits departments and agencies subject to the Policy on Government Security to allow contingent security statuses and clearances, the Treasury Board Secretariat said.
The authorities ought to make certain it may efficiently reply to public desires all through COVID-19 through hiring badly wished workers, the secretariat said.
“This has required urgently increasing the workforce necessary to implement the government’s emergency measures and to provide support where urgently needed, like health-care workers in Indigenous and northern communities.”
The secretariat said that given the physical distancing practices recommended by the Public Health Agency of Canada, it is “not always possible to obtain fingerprints,” a common step in carrying out a criminal record check during screening.
The decision to grant a conditional security screening clearance under the temporary change in practice is the responsibility of the deputy’s head within each department or agency, based on individual circumstances.
Agencies continue to “diligently assess” candidates using security screening measures in a manner that does not present a public health risk, the secretariat said.
“This includes, for example, verifying a candidate’s identity and background, information, education and professional credentials and performing a credit check.
Between mid-March and May, 13 new hires at the Canadian Space Agency received conditional security clearances with no fingerprints, said Andrea Matte, a spokeswoman for the agency. “Additional screening activities and security measures were put in place.”
Since May, with new sanitation measures available, the space agency has been able to take fingerprints for all but two of these new hires and they are now fully cleared, Matte said.
The direction from Treasury Board indicated the measure was meant for agencies that grant employees a level known as “reliability status,” whereas the RCMP uses the higher level of “enhanced reliability status” given the nature of its work and security levels within the organization, said Catherine Fortin, an RCMP spokeswoman.
TBS has also encouraged departments and agencies to only use this conditional screening practice for low-risk positions.
Because the total number of conditional clearances granted using the variation will depend on decisions made within each department, an estimate of the number of people affected is not available, the Treasury Board Secretariat said.
Photo credit: MARY ALTAFFER / AP
News source: The Canadian Press