Alberta exploring options to do away with paper health cards

Alberta issues health cards on paper card stock. Global News

The Alberta government has earmarked funding that appears may eventually lead to the demise of paper health cards.

In the Alberta budget tabled last week, $600,000 has been set aside in 2020-21 to add personal health numbers to driver’s licences and identification cards.

“We know that Albertans are frustrated with their paper health cards, which have no security features and are more than a few decades old,” Tricia Velthuizen, press secretary to Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish, said in a statement Thursday morning.

Read more: No new health cards for Albertans

A timeline for the potential shift or how the process might work has not been detailed. Velthuizen said modernizing health-care cards was a UCP election promise and “one the minister is especially looking forward to keeping.”

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“Service Alberta has been working closely with our colleagues in (Alberta) Health to explore options to modernize the paper cards using some of the same security, technology, and innovation that led to Alberta having some of the most secure driver’s licences and ID cards in North America,” she said.

Read more: Cutting pink tape: Alberta auto insurance cards going digital

Alberta issues its health cards on paper cardstock, making them prone to damage and decay over time.

A 2015 Auditor General’s report also warned that these cards pose a fraud risk, as they don’t have expiry dates.

In 2018, the then-NDP government recognized the need for new cards but decided against updating them, blaming the current economic climate.

In a statement, Alberta NDP critic for Service Alberta Jon Carson said modernizing health cards is a good move to put the province in step with other jurisdictions but offered one concern.

“It is a much more complex and costly move than this $600,000 the UCP have set aside to accomplish,” Carson said in a statement. “This leads me to believe that Jason Kenney is hoping to download the cost of these new cards onto Albertans through user fees.”


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