TORONTO – The Ontario driver’s licence is getting a facelift that the Progressive Conservative government said will help combat fraud and identity theft.
Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek said Monday that the licence cards were last updated 12 years ago, more than double the industry standard time to refresh the identification cards.
The design will shift from the current mix of blue and green to a look that is largely blue and white with the province’s redesigned trillium logo.
Yurek said the look of the card won’t be dramatically different, but the change has more to do with enhanced security features that aren’t readily apparent.
“We don’t want counterfeiters and identity thieves to know what we’ve changed in the product,” he said.
“It should have been updated five or six years ago but the previous government felt it wasn’t necessary for the safety of Ontarians to do so.”
The cards were unveiled Monday as part of an announcement which also included more details about Ontario’s redesigned licence plates and the government’s trillium logo.
Government Services Minister Bill Walker said the new plates, which were unveiled last week, will be available in February 2020 after the current supply is exhausted.
The government also said it has resolved the problem that led to licence plates peeling and flaking and will now guarantee the plates for life.
“The new licence plate is a … materially enhanced, effective product that will last longer for Ontarians,” Walker said. “The plate will feature high-definition sheeting that is stronger and longer-lasting than Ontario’s current licence plate technology.”
The government has confirmed the licence slogan on commercial plates will be “Open For Business”, the same slogan used by Premier Doug Ford’s government dating back to the election campaign last year.
The Tories said last week that the passenger plate slogan would be “A Place To Grow”.
Yurek also said Monday that licence plates will remain on both the front and back of vehicles across the province, after the government said last week it was considering removing front plates as a cost-cutting measure.
The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police had spoken out against the move, saying eliminating front plates would cut down on the opportunity to identify vehicles involved in crimes.
“We continue to talk to law enforcement about how we can make their jobs easier and ensuring that our roads are safer,” Yurek said.
Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba are the only provinces that continue to require drivers to have licence plates on the front and back of their vehicles.
Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said the licence card, plate and logo redesigns are a “vanity project” of the Ford government.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to redesign the cards at this point,” he said. “How much is the premier’s branding exercise going to cost taxpayers?”
Interim Liberal Leader John Frasier said the current licence cards have many layers of security features and questioned the need for the redesign.
“It’s pretty hard to fraudulently create one of those licences,” he said.
Meanwhile, Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy said the government has also issued a directive to the public service that will see ministries and agencies drop use of dozens of different logos and adopt the redesigned trillium unveiled in the budget last week.
The decision will help streamline Ontario’s brand and also simplify logo redesigns for various agencies that have cost taxpayers approximately $2 million since 2011, he said.
“What did we get for all of that money?” he said. “A bunch of different logos and brands that often don’t even look like they’re connected to the government.”
© 2019 The Canadian Press