The Ontario government today unveiled plans to digitize driver’s licenses and birth certificates, as part of a broader announcement to overhaul services in the province.
According to CP24, Premier Doug Ford announced the changes on Monday afternoon. He noted the plan to digitize driver’s licenses and birth certificates, part of a plan that would also encompass a digital wallet, were fast-tracked due to COVID-19.
“Whether you’re getting married or renewing your driver’s licence or health card or filing paperwork for your business: We want to make services more accessible, more reliable and more convenient for you,” said Ford.
A digital wallet would hold a resident’s driver’s license and birth certificate, allowing them to prove their identity without the need to visit a government services office in person.
“This new technology would allow you to securely access new services online where previously, you may have needed to go in-person to prove your identity,” said the Ontario premier.
“Verified, digital information about you, such as the information found on your health card, driver’s licence and birth certificate, can be securely stored in a digital wallet on your smartphone and conveniently used to prove your identity to access services when required,” explains the digital identity portion of the “people focused” action plan.
The Ontario government provided the following example of how revamped government services would work, alongside a provincial ‘digital wallet’:
Johnny wants to apply for a government service on Ontario.ca. He learns that instead of coming into a government office to show his ID, he can download a digital wallet app and apply for the service online. The app helps him validate his identity using the information on his driver’s licence and health card and creates a digital version of his identity that can be used wherever a website or service is set up to accept it.
On the Ontario.ca website where he is asked to enter personal information (e.g., name, date of birth), he uses his digital wallet to do this securely using his digital identity. Johnny grants the app consent to access his digital identity and his digital wallet shares only the necessary personal information with the government website, populating the application without a trip to an office.
From now on Johnny can use this digital wallet any time an appropriately enabled service needs to verify these facts about him. Not just online, but in an office or from his mobile phone. The service is more efficient, and his personal information is fully protected.
In March of this year, Ottawa-based Bluink launched its eID-Me Digital ID in Ontario, allowing users to store driver’s licenses and passports on an app on smartphones. It’s unclear if this app is part of Ontario’s ‘digital wallet’ plan.
Back in July, B.C. launched an identity verification service for residents via video chat and images, allowing residents to use government services without the need to visit during the COVID-19 pandemic.