Security clearance bottleneck hits daycares

Some daycare employees are prisoners in their own workplace. From morning to evening, they can’t leave the daycare. It’s illegal.

Some daycare employees are prisoners in their own workplace.

From morning to evening, they can’t leave the daycare.

It’s illegal.

Unchecked employees can’t be left with kids unless an employee with the right clearance is present.

If enough daycare employees haven’t had their RCMP security checks done, a daycare can suffer a scheduling nightmare.

Downtown Days regularly takes kids to the children’s day at Arts in the Park, or to the Canada Games Centre.

This summer, delays in securing the mandatory security clearance have caused preschoolers to miss out on the adventures.

“We missed most of the Arts in the Park this summer and we used to go every Wednesday,” said the daycare’s assistant director Deana White.

Like the children, Downtown Days employees are on the buddy system.

Those without security checks have to stick with their cleared coworkers, said White.

“If two staff quit, nobody can leave the building,” she said.

The RCMP has become clogged with requests for security checks.

Some weeks, the police receive 100 requests, pushing the limits of staff.

“It can take anywhere from (five) days to three weeks to process and complete a criminal record check,” according to the Yukon section of the RCMP website.

Now the wait is up to 120 days.

“The RCMP is backlogged substantially,” said NDP Leader Todd Hardy.

He spoke with RCMP to confirm the problems with security checks.

The RCMP did not return calls from the Yukon News.

“Both employers and employees are using the system extensively,” said Hardy.

“There’s just so many requests they haven’t been able to keep up.”

Certain jobs — daycare employees, teachers and some government jobs — require security checks.

But some employers, such as those in the service industry, that don’t require checks still use the RCMP’s services.

It’s company policy rather than regulation.

There’s 100 different applications, but no priority for required checks and those that aren’t, said White.

So there are cashiers who sit higher on the list than teachers or daycare workers.

“It’s important for stores to know the backgrounds, but these are people’s children we’re dealing with,” said White.

Some businesses may have flexibility to wait, like Superstore, but those that require checks don’t have the luxury of time.

Every daycare employee needs a security check, said White.

“If you’re anywhere near kids, you need to be cleared,” she said.

“We have volunteers here who’ve needed checks.”

Long-time employees require a new check every five years.

Getting the results of a security check was never a problem, said White.

The results were usually received within 10 days.

Now it’s taking four months.

Under the RCMP policing agreement, the territory has some say in how the agency is run.

Premier Dennis Fentie and Justice Minister Marian Horne were asked what the government can do to speed up the security applications.

“We’re going to be careful about short-circuiting the process because we want to ensure the safety of the children,” said Fentie.

“The RCMP does bear some responsibility. We rely on them to do the work.”

A meeting has been scheduled with the RCMP to discuss the matter, said Horne.

“It is an RCMP issue, but we’re looking into it,” she said.

In an industry with a high turnover rate, any delay can be debilitating, said White.

“You can have new people coming in every other month,” she said.

Delays have little financial impact, for now.

“Kids still come, but if I can’t offer programming, people will stop going,” she said.

“I can’t attract new clientele if I can’t offer incentives.”

Of the 10 employees at Downtown Days, four await results of their security checks.

Scheduling staff at the daycare is a high-wire act just to ensure the legal mix of cleared employees and those still waiting for the checks.

“If I don’t have qualified people on the floor, I’m breaking regulations,” said White.

Some employees have been waiting since June, others since July.

“A lot of daycares are having problems,” said White.

“It’s industry wide, apparently.”

Hardy has gone through checks as a hockey coach.

His assistant coaches and manager also went through checks.

“It’s not just for employment now, it’s a volunteer issue too,” said Hardy.

Habitat for Humanity has applications for housing go through security checks.

Hardy wrote a letter to Horne outlining his concerns.

“She is responsible for the RCMP in this area and should have done something,” said Hardy.

Directing more human resources to unclog the security check wait-list is one option, he added.

Or establish a policy that allows the RCMP to push ahead certain applications for essential checks, like daycares.

“If it’s a hard and fast rule somebody can’t work in daycare without a security clearance, and you can’t hire somebody because of the delays, it’s counterproductive,” said Hardy.