“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
Judy Garland, 1939, The Wizard of Oz.
If you are an adult past the age of 35, you remember (what you thought was) a gentler time, when you could show up at the airport and board a plane, vote or receive medical treatment merely by saying who you were. The world was a much larger place back then. Information existed in islands and pockets that were easier to verify. That was then, even if parts of ‘then’ exist only through the rose-coloured glasses we tend to use to view the past.
This is now. You need government-issued identification to vote, get a passport, board an aircraft, open a bank account and a host of other common, everyday tasks. A few years ago, I was helping a senior vote in a by-election, and was astonished that the gentleman had no identification acceptable by the poll clerk. His driver’s license had expired years ago; he had not lived at the address on that license in years; he had no up-to-date health card or passport. Finally, we found a utility bill addressed to him. The poll clerk accepted his old license to verify that he was who he said he was, and accepted the utility bill as proof that he lived in the poll where he had planned to vote.
There are some essential foundation documents that everyone needs to be a citizen in just about every western democracy:
Over and above that, your wallet and files at home may contain a student card; an employee ID; various bank and credit cards; a host of other forms of identification, none of which will serve as government-issued identification when you travel, vote, or need to show who you are and where you live.
You don’t need to carry every identification card and document with you all the time. Have a look at your wallet or handbag, and ask yourself if you really need everything in it every day. For example, when you travel, you can leave your Canadian store discount cards, your library card and other domestic pieces of ID at home. However, if you have, for example, a credit card in another country’s currency, carry that card only when you travel to that country, while leaving it in a secure place while you are at home.
As a rule-of-thumb, carry all the ID you’ll need, but only the ID you’ll need.
Every adult needs to ensure that their foundation identification cards and documents are up-to-date, and kept in a safe, secure and accessible place. Every family managing the affairs of aging parents, grandparents and relatives needs to take responsibility for managing their identification. Many seniors are left vulnerable for lack of an identification card, passport, or Ontario health card.
Think of the Ontario Photo ID Card as the ‘non-drivers’ drivers’ license.’ Ontario’s Photo ID Card is as good as your driver’s license for government-issued identification. Whether for non-drivers or for seniors, this is the card to carry in your wallet.
The case for seniors is especially compelling. Many seniors no longer need to drive. The reality for many seniors is that even though they no longer drive, many still feel they need to go and get a driver’s license they won’t use to have a recognized, government-issued photo ID card. You need this type of identification to board a domestic airline flight, to take out a library card, to open a bank account, check into many hotels, and the list is fairly lengthy.
Ontario developed a unique identification card for non-drivers that is as universally recognized as your Ontario driver’s license. You can get your Ontario Photo ID Card in Mississauga.
The Ontario Photo ID Card is available at ServiceOntario centres. The two closest ServiceOntario centres are at:
Ontario is nearly finished upgrading the old red-and-white Ontario Health Card. This is important. There were many more active health cards in circulation than there are living Ontarians. The Province needs to look after Ontario residents, but only eligible Ontario residents.
Many of us now have the new Ontario Health Card, which contains many built-in verification features, including your photo, to ensure that you are who the card says you are when you present it to receive treatment. All of us need the new card. Get more information here.
However, there are still many millions of the old red-and-white magnetic stripe cards in circulation. To put the matter in perspective, you would have long ago dumped your bank if it had not kept your credit card up to date with today’s technology. Ontario is phasing out the old red-and-white magnetic stripe card for just that reason.
The change is mandatory. The old red-and-white magnetic stripe card is increasingly not accepted for treatment, or if so, only with another government-issued piece of ID. Shortly, the red-and-white card will neither work, nor be accepted. To get the many old, invalid, broken or fraudulent red-and-white Ontario Health Cards out of circulation, a human being at ServiceOntario needs to physically see you, and ensure you are who you say you are, and verify that you are an eligible resident of Ontario to make that switch.
ServiceOntario has contacted people with a letter (paper letter) when it is time for their community to make the change. Along with your driver’s license, your Ontario Health Card is a key piece of Province-issued identification, and it is important for you, your family and your friends to first ensure that your information is up-to-date.
Make the switch now. Read this ServiceOntario web page first, and book an appointment at a convenient ServiceOntario location.
I had purposely kept my old red-and-white card to personally follow this conversion as it happened. However, a few years ago, it simply fell apart on me, and I needed to replace it. The process was very smooth, and I got my new Ontario Health Card quickly.