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Improve Access to Photo Cards and Birth Certificates - Support Bill 26

April 10, 2018 Make Change

The Clinic believes that access to photo cards and birth certificates should be improved.

In Ontario, marginalized and vulnerable individuals often cannot afford to pay the fees for this identification.   

Without government ID, individuals cannot obtain social assistance, open bank accounts, secure housing or receive medical care.

A birth certificate is needed to apply for new pieces of ID both provincially and federally and that is often something individuals may lack as well.

Change could be on the way.

Recently a private members bill was introduced in the Ontario Legislature which addresses this problem.

Bill 26, amends the Photo Card Act, 2008. If passed, fee waivers will be provided for individuals who cannot afford to pay the fees required for photo cards.

The Bill also amends the Vital Statistics Act so that fees will be waived for individuals who cannot afford to pay the fees required for birth certificates.

This Bill recently passed First Reading. It has been referred to a Standing Committee.

We have written to the Bill’s sponsor Sophie Kiwala, MPP (Kingston and the Islands) to indicate our support.  Our letter is reproduced below. We encourage you to write to Ms Kiwala and help Make Change. Students at Queen's University and Pro Bono Students Canada worked with Ms. Kiwala to advance this reform. You can find out more about this issue at

http://www.canadianlawyermag.com/legalfeeds/author/alexia-kapralos/pro-bono-students-canada-id-clinic-sparks-introduction-of-bill-15538/#tab_1

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Dear MPP Kiwala,

 skiwala.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

 We are  writing to you today on behalf of the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic (HCLC) to share our support for your Bill 26 – Fee Waivers Act.

Our Clinic provides a variety of services including legal advice & referrals, legal representation, public legal education, community development and law reform. We provide service to individuals, groups and communities.  Several years ago we started a collaborative journey with Aboriginal agencies and networks to build relationships of respect and trust and to improve access to justice for Indigenous people in Hamilton and surrounding communities.

We believe that this legislation is necessary to enhance access to photo cards and birth certificates for individuals who cannot afford to pay the associated fees.

Low-income members of the community are especially susceptible to losing their government-issued identification or having it stolen. Replacing identification can be an especially stressful and challenging situation. In order to rectify such situations, service providers and charitable organizations frequently have to apply creative solutions on a case-by-case basis.  These organizations and service providers often have limited resources to do this work.

If help is not available, individuals may be forced into living without identification. This has serious impacts in other aspects of their daily life. Among those who rely on the Ontario Disability Support Program, for example, if an individual cannot access their bank account, they cannot access their disability payments. It has also been reported that perpetrators of domestic violence often withhold their victim’s identification, which leads some victims to live without identification instead of returning home.

The elimination of fees for identification cards for individuals who cannot afford to pay would directly help the most vulnerable individuals in our communities.

There are precedents for this solution such as; 

  • Name changes for residential school survivors as part of Ontario’s acknowledgment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  • Fee waivers for court matters, including filing fees for Small Claims Court, Superior Court and Family Court.
  • Fee waivers at the Landlord and Tenant for an applicant seeking to launch a claim.

Bill 26 – Fee Waivers Act seeks to further enhance access to photo cards and birth certificates in the province for marginalized and vulnerable individuals who cannot afford to pay the associated fees.

In closing, HCLC is pleased to support Bill 26 – Fee Waivers Act. We look forward to seeing this proposed legislation improve the lives of those seeking government issued ID in the province.  

Sincerely,

Hamilton Community Legal Clinic

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