If you still have the classic red-and-white Ontario old health card sitting in your wallet, it may be time to announce its official retirement. The Ontario government announced that over two decades after the province began phasing out the red-and-white health cards, the ones that remain in circulation will be officially cancelled. Ontario has been gradually rolling out more secure photo ID health cards, but now CBC News reports that Ontario's Ministy of Health and ServiceOntario have been working to set a deadline to eliminate remaining red-and-white cards from the system. After that specific date, the cards will no longer be accepted.
Not to worry, though - Health Minister Christine Elliott has reassured the public that although a specific date has not yet been set by the government, the elimination of red-and-white health cards surely won't happen overnight.
"It has been out there for a very long period of time," Christine said publicly. "Some people are still hanging onto their cards, in some part, because nobody has required them to do the conversion. But in order to be responsible stewards of taxpayers' money, it's necessary to bring that process to an end."
Back in 1991, the cards were initially introduced to the province. Just three years later, the then-NDP government announced the red-and-white cards would be phased out over a three-year time span due to fraud and misuse.
At the time that photo ID cards were first introduced, $65-million in fraudulent claims per year were being made with the red-and-white cards, CBC reports. The cards displayed limited printed personal information - the least of any province. Only a name was included on the card, but according to a 2006 auditor general report, the cards did not have an expiry date.
The auditor also reported that approximately 300,000 more health cards were in circulation than there were people.
Now, in 2019, 400,000 cards remain in circulation - representing approximately 3 percent of all Ontario health cards, according to a spokesman from the Ministry of Health. In 2018, ServiceOntario informed 27,000 Ontarians that their coverage would be suspended if they refused to convert to using a photo health card.
"This time, I think we have to send out notices with specific timelines that I'm sure people will respond to," Elliott explained.