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Red-and-white health cards to be cancelled July 1, 2020

More than two decades after the then NDP Ontario government started phasing out red-and-white health cards, a deadline has been set to cancel the remaining 300,000 (about two per cent) non-photo cards still in circulation.

The Ministry of Health is working with ServiceOntario to set July 1, 2020 as the date the cards will no longer be accepted.

“The advanced security features of the photo health card help protect our public health system and is another measure to improve value for taxpayers’ dollars,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, in a media release “While there is no cost to convert or renew an Ontario photo health card, there could be significant costs by allowing red-and-white health cards, which could be used fraudulently, to remain in circulation. Each month, individuals using these outdated cards access up to $108 million in health services.”

Starting this month, people with the old health cards will receive notices to get a new card before the deadline.

Elliott stated that regardless of an individual’s health card status, Ontario’s public hospitals cannot refuse to provide services to a patient who is faced with a life-threatening medical emergency.

“Red-and-white card holders who do not convert by July 1, 2020, may be asked to pay up-front for insured health services as their red and white health card will not be valid. Once a photo health card is obtained, eligibility for Ontario health insurance is restored and any payments made for OHIP-insured health services will be promptly reimbursed once a valid health card is provided.”

The then NDP government, 25 years ago, made the change to photo identification cards due to fraud and mis-use of the cards that were introduced just four years earlier. It was hoped they would be phased out over three years.

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