New legislation will help keep children and vulnerable Albertans safe by ensuring convicted sex offenders must live under their own names.
Proposed changes to the Vital Statistics Act would require anyone 18 years of age or older to submit to a criminal background check as part of their application to change their name.
Those convicted of designated sexual offences under the Criminal Code will be ineligible to complete a legal change of name in Alberta. Designated offences include sexual exploitation, incest, aggravated sexual assault, child pornography, and others.
“Sexual crimes, especially against children, are truly heinous. Prohibiting these offenders from legally changing their names is yet another step we are taking to ensure the safety of Alberta families in our communities.”Jason Kenney, Premier
“Today, I’m issuing a call to action to my counterparts across the country to join us in closing this loophole. Survivors of sexual violence live with the effects of that trauma for the rest of their lives. We are making sure their offenders have to live under their own names.”Nate Glubish, Minister of Service Alberta
Alberta already has some of the strongest legislation around name changes and these proposed changes will make it even stronger. Under existing rules, anyone applying for a legal change of name in Alberta must be fingerprinted and submit an RCMP fingerprint confirmation letter with their application. Despite this safeguard, convicted sex offenders have still been allowed to legally change their names, provided their applications met all legislated requirements.
“This legislation takes an important step forward for survivors by better recognizing the lifelong impacts they face and making their offenders face the consequences of their actions daily.”Sheldon Kennedy, survivor, advocate, and co-founder of Respect Group Inc.
“This legislation helps to keep our communities safe by preventing recidivism and ensuring that offenders continue to be held accountable for the harms they have committed.”Deb Tomlinson, chief executive officer, Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services
“Any time a child walks through our doors, it means that they’ve been deeply hurt and that is unacceptable. We’re pleased to see the government taking steps to protect children and youth in our communities through this legislation.”Cheryl Diebel, chief executive officer, Zebra Child Protection Centre
- Each year, about 4,000 Alberta residents complete a legal change of name.
- Under the existing rules, several requirements must be met:
- The applicant must be an Alberta resident.
- The proposed name must meet requirements set out in the Vital Statistics Act.
- Applicants 12 years and older must submit electronic fingerprint confirmation letters with their applications (fingerprints are sent directly to RCMP in Ottawa).
- The applicant must provide acceptable government-issued identification, plus proof of current legal name and their proposed new name.
- Under the Vital Statistics (Protecting Albertans from Convicted Sex Offenders) Amendment Act, anyone 18 years of age or older applying for a legal change of name in Alberta would also have to submit either a criminal record check or a police information check.
- Those convicted of designated offences listed in subsection 490.011(1) (a), (c), (c.1), (d), (d.1) and (e) of the Criminal Code of Canada would be banned for life from completing a legal change of name in Alberta.
- The Alberta government stopped publishing legal changes of name in the Alberta Gazette in 2016 out of concern for the safety of vulnerable Albertans like transgender persons and victims of domestic abuse.