EDMONTON — The Alberta government has budgeted $600,000 this fiscal year to replace the province’s paper personal health cards.
The plan is found in the government’s 2021-24 capital plan documents that were published as part of the latest provincial budget last month.
The document lists a direction to “add personal health numbers to driver’s licence and identification card” as part of a “registry system modernization” by Service Alberta.
“We know that Albertans are frustrated with their paper health cards, which have no security features and are more than a few decades old,” said Tricia Velthuizen, press secretary to Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish.
She said Service Alberta is exploring options to modernize the paper cards using the similar security technology to that found on provincial driver’s licences.
The funding is for this fiscal year only with no money budgeted in subsequent years.
The paper cards have been issued since the 1960s and display an individual’s name, birthdate, and personal health number.
They do not includes photos, addresses or contact information and do not expire, potentially allowing them to be used by multiple individuals including those who live outside of Alberta.
The move to plastic cards was recommended as far back as the early 1990s by a provincial commission.
Manitoba also uses paper cards for health identification purposes. Other provinces integrate personal health numbers into other government-issued identification.