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Ontario seeking regulation change to allow for online health card renewal

A ServiceOntario office is seen in Kingston, Ont., on March 23, 2016. .
A ServiceOntario office is seen in Kingston, Ont., on March 23, 2016. . THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

TORONTO – Ontario is taking steps toward allowing people to renew their health cards online, a development that would save residents a trip to a ServiceOntario centre.

The Ministry of Health recently posted a notice asking for feedback on a regulatory change that would make it possible for the government to develop a new online option for health card renewals.

A ministry spokesman said Ontario has committed to providing online health card renewals by 2018, as part of an effort to “give Ontarians more choice in how they interact with government.”

READ MORE: Ontario plans gender-neutral birth certificates

For now, almost everyone who needs to renew their health card must do so in person.

Individuals can book an appointment ahead of time online, but still have to visit a ServiceOntario centre, with the exception of children younger than 15-and-a-half and most seniors over 80, who can renew their cards by mail.

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Proof of residency in Ontario and proof of identity are required to renew a health card.

READ MORE: Ontario considers more changes to how gender is displayed on government ID

Some residents immediately welcomed the idea of an online renewal option.

“That’s great,” said Kashief Butt, who’d just waited in a long line at a ServiceOntario office in downtown Toronto. “If we could do it online, then we’d save so much time.”

But Alia Gomes, who’d visited the same ServiceOntario, said she doesn’t think the online option is a good idea and worried it could lead to fraud.

READ MORE: Ontario introducing gender-neutral driver’s licences, health cards

“I just feel like with being able to do everything online, there’s a certain sense of anonymity, and people could use your name for identity theft,” she said.

Besides, she said, the line at the centre didn’t seem that long to her.

Ontarians can give feedback on the government’s proposal for online renewal until June 5.

Ontarians can already renew their driver’s licenses online, and 200,000 people did so last year.

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