Two MPPs, including our own, have tabled legislation to prevent convicted sex offenders from changing their names.
Laurie Scott, MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, says the “Act to Amend the Name Change Act” would close a “loophole” in the provincial sex offender registry that allows people to change their names before even being released from prison.
“What we found out is that sexual offenders can actually change their names very easily, and go back into our community, severing the connection between their current identity and their criminal past,” says Scott. “So it very much is another step in protecting our communities and certainly our children before they become victims. Sexual offenders should be denied opportunities that could enable them to re-offend easily and hide in our communities.”
According to Scott, the re-offending rate for sexual offences is quite high, upwards of 30 per cent. She says while police are notified of an offender’s new identity, residents are often unaware of potentially dangerous people in their community.
“These offenders shouldn’t be able to sever the tie to their past life,” says Scott. “Prohibiting sex offenders from changing their names prevents them from adopting a new identity in life, which is something the victims can never do.”
Scott presented the bill at Queen’s Park this week alongside Thornhill MPP Laura Smith. It was first tabled by former Scarborough Centre MPP Christina Mitas before last year’s provincial election.
Scott adds there’s still a long way to go before it becomes law in Ontario, with the next step being its second reading on Nov. 14. “We’ve seen other provinces go to close this loophole, so this is a first step towards taking action.”