Canadian News Jul 8, 2020 6:30 PM EST

Sask. Privacy Commissioner rules that health cards cannot be required for ID

Saskatchewan’s privacy commissioner says that people do not have to provide their health cards for ordinary ID.

Sask. Privacy Commissioner rules that health cards cannot be required for ID
Sam Edwards High Level, Alberta
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Saskatchewan’s privacy commissioner says that people do not have to provide their health cards for ordinary ID, according to Blacklock's Reporter.

“It is personal health information,” Commissioner Ronald Kruzeniski wrote.

“No person including Saskatchewan Government Insurance shall require an individual to produce a health services number as a condition of receiving a product or service other than for a health service.”

The ruling was made after a case involved driver being forced to hand his health card to Saskatchewan Government Insurance for identification while renewing a license.

The Commissioner said that other jurisdictions have similar practices in place. All Canadian provinces include birth certificates, passports, Indian Status Cards and work permits as valid ID.

Voters are also able to use utility bills and bank statements as ID with Elections Canada.

“When Saskatchewan Government Insurance or an issuer views a health card, it is doing so to confirm something about the individual – in this case, according to SGI, the purpose is to verify their signature, not provide a health service,” Kruzeniski wrote. “An issuer would arguably first have to inspect the health card to confirm it is the correct piece of government-issue ID.”

“In other words, the issuer would be obtaining access to the customer’s health card and, upon viewing it, would be obtaining the personal health information from it,” wrote Kruzeniski adding that when people use their health cards as identification it has to be strictly voluntary.

Proposals to provide Canadian residents with a national ID have been rejected on several occasions by parliamentary committees.

The Commons and Immigration committee in 2003, said that providing Canadians with a national ID could cost as much as $5 billion and could be abused.

“The committee was warned many times about the prospect of the police being able to stop people on the street and demand proof of their identity,” wrote the committee in a report called A National Identity Card For Canada?

Denis Coderre, who was the Immigration minister at the time proposed that the report be completed as part of a 9/11 security measure.

“While the new focus on a positive proof of identity is partially rooted in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, other forces are at play,” Coderre testified in 2003. “Identity theft is seen as a serious and growing problem in Canada.”

“A national ID card is simply a tool that permits the bearer to prove with a high degree of certainty that they are who they are.”

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