An extra step has been added to the process of a name change in Saskatchewan.
The provincial government announced on Tuesday that a criminal record check is now required for any resident wanting to change their name.
Furthermore, Saskatchewan becomes the first province to have the option to reject a request for a name change based on certain criminal offences such as sexual assault or incest.
Justice minister Don Morgan said the decision was made to try and prevent abuse on children in the province.
“The goal of this was not to be punitive, the goal of this was for the protection of children,” explained Morgan. “That’s why we didn’t spread it out across other offences. The primary focus was to protect children.”
Morgan stated there are 22 different offences that could result in a denied request, with most of those offences being against children. Offences are ones that require registration in the National Sex Offender Registry.
Morgan said it’s an extra step even if a person has been ordered to be placed on a sex offender registry.
“The purpose of the sex offender registry is that somebody can check and the information is available. But the sex offender registry wouldn’t catch if there was a name change, so it’s to make those tools effective that we’ve chosen to do this.”
He clarified that the rule won’t apply for other severe crimes, saying people should be able to reform or move on with their lives.
Amendments to the regulations of the The Change of Name Act, 1995 introduced criminal record checks as part of the name change application process for anyone 18 years of age or older.
(With files from Moises Canales)