Ontario NDP MPP wants health card reform

Richard Stead and his 96 year old mother Elizabeth outside their Ottawa home after Elizabeth had a hard time getting her health card replaced because of endless bureaucracy.

Credits: Tony Caldwell/Ottawa Sun/QMI Agency


OTTAWA -- A Sudbury-area MPP is calling for the province to review its health card system after 96-year-old Elizabeth Stead faced a bureaucratic nightmare losing her card.

Nickel Belt NDP MPP France Gelinas is calling on Deb Matthews, minister of health and long-term care, to investigate why it took so long for Stead to get her new card and whether policy changes should be put in place to avoid similar problems.

"Other similar stories happen in Ontario all the time, just not to the extent of her nightmare," she said.

She added her office handles similar complaints weekly and blamed the problem on the privatization of Service Ontario centres across the province. Privatization, she says, has not brought the savings it was supposed to and is making it more difficult for seniors to renew their health cards.

But often private centres are the only alternative other than turning to the web after digital kiosks in malls were shut down earlier this month because of the risk of credit card fraud.

On Nov. 6, the government shut down all 72 of its digital kiosks after threats of credit card skimming arose in Toronto. The move was expected to save taxpayers about $6.3 million in one-time upgrading costs and $2.2 million in annual maintenance costs.

She said changes are needed to make it easier for senior citizens who don't know how to use computers to renew their cards.

"There are hundreds of health cards that are renewed every day, I certainly don't want them all to come to my office," said Gelinas.

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