For screening and investigations, sometimes going local makes sense

Choosing a local partner can mean better results

The past few years have seen a trend towards big companies who provide employment/background screening and corporate investigations on a national level, and on the surface this can make sense: If you're a company with multiple locations across Canada, partnering with a single supplier means a single point of contact, consistent billing, and prevents regional offices from 'going rogue' with local suppliers who may not have been sufficiently vetted.

But there are advantages in going with local firms, especially in Canada.

National (or international) providers are often contracting to local firms anyway

Canada's a big country, with a lower population relative to size than the US or most European countries. That means that even the big national companies sub-contract screening, investigation and research work to local companies on a regional basis, and the really big international firms may have satellite offices supported by call centers.

Faster turnarounds and lower costs

Whether you're doing regular pre-employment and background screening, criminal checks, or undertaking a corporate investigation, local firms often have faster turnaround times. Local providers often know the area better, and, more importantly, they don't lose time having to go through subcontractors. The information is transmitted directly from their investigators or researchers to you without additional administrative processes.

And of course fewer 'middlemen' in the process often means lower costs.

Better resources in local language(s)

Canada has two official national languages (English and French), but outside of Quebec, it can be difficult to find staff who are fluently bilingual. This can create challenges for centralized national providers.

What's more, regions like Metro Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area, StatsCan says that almost 50% of residents are immigrants - and just 65% of Canadians spoke primarily English in the home. This level of diversity means that firms with resources who can communicate in the most locally-popular languages - Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish, Punjabi and Tagalog are the most common in Canada - have a distinct advantage.

There's something to be said for the face-to-face meeting

Sure, the internet - and tools like our own Client Portal for screening services - means that it's possible to do great work without ever meeting clients or team members in person.

However, when it comes to corporate investigations or large-scale screening projects, being able to meet in person can be a huge advantage. It allows the provider to better understand the needs of the organization, it helps foster teamwork (which can be particularly important in investigations) and it makes it easier to provide training or strategic planning when required.

Some information can only be accessed locally

This year, the RCMP introduced legislation that requires companies conducting date of birth-based criminal record checks of the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) to enter agreements with each municipal police service. This involves an extensive vetting, licensing and auditing process - meaning local companies are often your best bet.

(It's also worth noting that the RCMP won't send criminal record results out of Canada: The request for criminal and vulnerable sector checks must be requested from within Canada.)

Single suppliers aren't always your best solution

It makes good business sense to streamline the vendor/supplier list: It can drive consistency across the organization; allows for better adherence to service level agreements; and can cut down on administrative time.

But in a country as large and diverse as Canada, 'streamline' may mean finding a network of partners - not a single provider.