Ontario extends health card renewal deadline to September 30
Ontario’s Ministry of Health (MOH) is extending the deadline to renew health cards from Feb. 28 to Sept. 30.
In a release on Wednesday, the MOH said expired health cards will continue to be accepted, including red and white ones.
Currently, only a valid driver’s licence can be used to renew a health card online. Service Ontario is working on enabling health card renewal using the Ontario photo ID card in the coming months.
The ministry had previously said in a statement to CityNews that the deadline would not be extended, but Ontarians could continue to access insured health services with expired cards.
Seniors and disability advocates have long been calling for a deadline extension, citing safety and accessibility concerns for vulnerable populations during the Omicron surge.
Blind disability rights advocate David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, calls the announcement a “big victory for people with disabilities.”
Lepofsky filed a court application against the Ford government two weeks ago, stating the policy was discriminatory against those with disabilities as it only allowed for those with a driver’s licence to renew their health cards online.
“Because blind people and some other people with disabilities cannot get a driver’s license, they’d be forced to go in person to Service Ontario to renew their health card, risking exposure to the Omicron variant,” he said in a release.
Lepofsky added that the decision came moments before the Ford government’s lawyers were to appear in Superior Court to respond to his request to get his case scheduled for an urgent hearing in the next few days.
“The Government is now finally announcing measures that it would not agree to just two weeks ago at a January 25, 2022 virtual meeting with me,” said Lepofsky. “They should have made this announcement back then, rather than leaving me no option but to file this court application.”
He is also demanding an explanation from the government as to why it took this long to announce an extension.
“The Ford government owes the public a complete and candid explanation of why it so seriously mishandled this issue. Why did it not agree much sooner to accept the Ontario Photo ID card in lieu of a driver’s license, when the government itself created the Photo ID card to be equivalent to a driver’s license?” he said.
Lepofsky has adjourned his request to schedule his case for a hearing pending further discussions with the government’s lawyers.