In what the provincial government says is a first in Canada, Saskatchewan is taking steps to prevent convicted sex offenders from changing their names.
An order in council approved by cabinet last week will require a criminal record check for people over the age of 18 seeking a name change.
“It would not be in the public interest to register a change of name for a person convicted of specific sexual offences in the past 10 years,” the order reads.
Saskatchewan would be the first province to refuse a name change based on a criminal record, the Ministry of Justice said.
The amendment of the Change Name Act 1995 will take effect on Feb. 18 this year.
“We are moving ahead with proposed changes to prevent offenders who prey on the most vulnerable in our society from changing their name to avoid public disclosure and scrutiny,” said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice.
The government said the list of applicable offences will be based around those that require a person to register as a sex offender.
In 2018, Minister of Justice Don Morgan said the government was considering a change to the act. This coincided with recent cases in the province of convicted sex offenders changing their names.
In Regina this week, 50-year-old Gabriel Michael Fisher was in court facing charges related to child pornography. In 2016, he was designated a long-term offender under the name Kevin Daniel Hudec. He legally changed his name in March 2018. He was arrested weeks later.
Earlier this month, the Regina Leader-Post reported that a convicted sex offender had moved from the United States and was living in Regina.
David Donald Shumey, 76, changed his name to David Donald Stryker.
He was convicted of sexually assaulting a minor and committing child pornography offences in the United States.
When the issue was raised to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice in early January, it said it was unaware that Stryker had re-entered Canada and had listed an address in Regina.
In 2018, a Saskatoon man, Justin William Pasloski — formerly named Justin Gerard Gryba — was thrown back into the spotlight when it was discovered he had changed his name. He had been convicted in 2016 of making child pornography and sentenced to two years less a day.