Service Provision Update #3: 17 April 2021
In wake of the changes on all levels of business and government in Canada & United States caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we are providing this update to clarify certain aspects of our services provision to our clients.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, keeping in accord with the federal & provincial emergency orders, we’ve had to close and re-open our offices on several occasions.
As a result of these repeated closures, service disruptions and changing government regulations, so far, it has been next to impossible for us to fully resume our services.
Finally, on 22nd February of 2021, we were given a green signal to go ahead and resume services completely. However, this came at the cost of not having access to 80% of our staff; since the majority of our staff chose to not return to work until fully vaccinated. As you may be aware, we cannot legally force an employee to come back to work per the “Emergency Orders” that are currently in effect.
To tackle this, we started making efforts to hire additional staff so we could resume providing services to our thousands of clients who had been waiting patiently during the past year.
While this re-opening phase was ongoing and we were tirelessly working on resuming services and hiring additional staff, as you may be aware, another province wide shut down was announced beginning of April. As a result, this virtually put all that work to waste that we had invested into resuming our services since the end of February 2021. All hiring had to be halted again, and we continued to get into a longer backlog. Just yesterday, on April 16th, Ontario announced further restrictions and a 2-week extension to the previous shutdown, which has further complicated our return to normal business.
In wake of all these challenges that we continue to face, where we appreciate your patience in these unprecedented times, we wanted to reach out to you personally and clarify that we are still constantly working on resuming our services fully. This further means, if you are a client of ours and have paid for our services, please rest assured that you will receive those services for which you have paid. There may be and may have been a delay, caused by “Act of God” which is out of our control, and which as you are aware of, is a by-product of how the Government of Canada has dealt with this pandemic, as a result of which millions of businesses across Canada have been affected.
Please also rest assured that we have not abandoned, nor do we intend to abandon any of our clients. Therefore, we continue to work tirelessly in ensuring resumption of normal operations as soon as possible, while abiding by the local, provincial, and federal restrictions that are in place.
As you may be aware, this is going to take some time, patience, and hard work. Unfortunately, at this time we are not able to define a timeline on exactly when the service to each client may be completed since the courts, police services, provincial government offices as well as other agencies that we deal with for our clients’ paperwork are also affected, delayed or backed up.
It is also important to mention, a major part of the reason for this extended delay lies in the Government of Ontario’s inability to make up their mind as to what exactly is it that they want to do. In the past 6 months alone, we’ve had to shut down and re-open more than 4 times. This makes it almost impossible to reach out to all of our clients and stay in communication with them.
Please also be advised that due to service disruption and unavailability of staff, we are currently backed up by as far as May 2020. However, we are doing our best with these limitations to ensure your application resumes and is completed as quickly as possible.
In the meantime, please go through the below Frequently Asked Questions that we have compiled to answer your most pressing questions.
I have submitted many inquiries, why have I not received a response?
Your inquiries have been received; you will receive a response once we are fully operational and have the staff available to respond to the high influx of messages we are receiving/have received. Part of the reason is that our employees (the few that we have available currently) are not able to access your information from home. We have always had a policy to not allow any employee to take home clients data (criminal record, ID’s, case paperwork, arrest, and conviction information etc). This is done to protect your privacy, because once original documents leave the security of our office premises, we cannot be sure as to where and how they may be used. When we started your service, through the service agreement that you signed agreeing to terms of our service, we guaranteed & promised your complete privacy and discretion. Allowing employees to leave our offices with your personal information is a direct conflict of that promise.
Like many other businesses, why don’t you have your employees work from home?
This is a question that we get asked a lot. Let’s consider the following facts:
- Our services involve dealing with courts, provincial and local governments, police services and other government agencies. The Canadian government and its agencies only accept original documents with original signatures.
- Also, these government agencies do not deal with electronic communications such as email or fax and ONLY allow exchange of traditional mail.
Due to the above facts, we work with traditional/physical files and paperwork. Furthermore, due to the privacy laws in Canada and for the protection of our clients’ personal information (criminal records, court documents, affidavits, case information, arrest, and conviction history), we do not and cannot allow our team members to transport these files to their homes. For further information on laws protecting your privacy, please visit Privacy Commission of Canada
How long will the delay be on my application?
Based on the information provided in the above service provision update, with constantly changing restrictions and closures, we are not able to define a definite date, however we are working tirelessly to become fully operational again. Our goal is to have all active and pending applications completed before or by the end of 2021, providing circumstances affording us that ability. However this will also largely depend on the turnaround times at courts, police services, municipal offices, and other government agencies, which based on the information available to us, are backed up by several months at this time.
Why would you not refund your clients and call it a day?
As much as we would love to refund everyone (makes our life easier amid the ongoing pandemic), the fact of the matter is, we are a small business. Like other small businesses, we do not have access to hundreds of thousands of dollars in disposable funds. With over 2300 active files, it is impossible for us to refund each client. We are however, in the process of reaching out to and working with the provincial government to secure funds to be able to refund any clients who would like to be refunded. However, again, as a small business, after all the closures and interruptions that we have been going through, we simply do not have the capacity to post refunds on a mass scale. Therefore, our only intention currently is to provide the promised services to our clients.
Is it legal for this company to delay the services considering the pandemic?
As per the service agreement that each and every client received, a copy of which can be found here, a delay caused by “Act of God” or other reasons as listed on the terms of service, limits the liability of service provider in service provision. However, again, we are not implying that the service provision should not or will not occur. Our stance is that the service promised to every client SHOULD BE and WILL BE provided in full, with the only exception being that we kindly ask for everyone’s patience while we deal with this ongoing situation and work on becoming fully operational again.
EASTERN & CENTRAL CANADA DIVISION
Scotia Pardon & Waiver Services Inc.
2010 Winston Park Drive, Suite 200
Oakville ON, L6H 5R7
WESTERN CANADA DIVISION
Scotia Pardon & Waiver Services Inc.
1275 West 6 Avenue, Suite 300
Vancouver BC, V6H 1A6