QUEEN’S PARK - It’s time for the Ford government to make birth certificates and Ontario’s basic photo identification card, free of cost, said NDP MPP Judith Monteith-Farrell (Thunder Bay – Atikokan) who presented her bill to eliminate ID fees during a zoom press conference on Thursday.
“During this pandemic when people and families are dealing with more costs than ever before and less income to pay for their bills, cutting the fees for such a fundamental right as a birth certificate and provincial ID is the easiest move this government can make,” said Monteith-Farrell. “This will allow people to access the public services they depend on and help make life more affordable for Ontarians during this crisis.”
Monteith-Farrell’s bill, Awenen Niin Act (Who Am I) Respecting Identity Documents, 2021, will remove user fees for all services related to Ontario birth certificates and Ontario Photo Cards (purple ID cards).
Monteith-Farrell said that while the cost for ID in Ontario is an unnecessary burden for all Ontarians, it is especially punitive on those who can least afford it, like First Nations and Indigenous communities, women, youth in care, LGBTQ people, homeless and underhoused people, new parents, people dealing with the justice system, people with disabilities, and senior citizens.
Monteith-Farrell was joined by Beth Ponka, Director of Administration, Kinna-aweya Legal Clinic,Thunder Bay, and Chris Sanders, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Lakehead University who support the NDP bill.
“In our ongoing research we have found cost to be a major barrier to access personal ID for many people in Ontario. This bill will be a significant step towards helping marginalized people get the ID they require. This will help them access many vital programs and services. ID is a basic necessity, everyone deserves the dignity of having reasonable access to it,” said Sanders.
“The barriers that people experience when trying to get their own birth certificates are largely due to a process that is costly, unnecessarily cumbersome, and doesn’t acknowledge the impacts of colonization. We greatly appreciate the leadership of Judith Monteith-Farrell in introducing this Bill to address the significant barriers that vulnerable people face when trying to obtain their basic personal ID documents. All citizens should be able to obtain the foundational document that opens the door to the most basic programs and services in our society,” said Ponka.
“If you don’t have your basic ID in Ontario, it is much harder to access provincial programs and services. In Northern Ontario, where many communities struggle for access to public services, we especially need to remove all barriers that unfairly block people who most need those programs simply because they cannot afford the unfair fee,” said Monteith-Farrell.
“No one in Ontario should be denied public services because they don’t have the money to pay for their ID.”