As of Friday, B.C. residents can start applying for a new identification card to be used as a combined driver's licence/CareCard for health services.
The B.C. Services Card combines better security features designed to protect personal information and make it more difficult for criminals to commit identity theft.
The combined card, which expires every five years, allows users to renew their driver's licences and membership in the Medical Services Plan (MSP) health care program with a single application.
A photograph to identify the user will appear on the front of the B.C. Services card. While the new card has been phased in over the next five years, people will still be able to use their existing CareCards, which do not have photographs.
The provincial government website, http://www2.gov.bc.ca, assures privacy will be protected, so that somebody such as a police officer or ICBC agent who accesses driver's licence-related information cannot see personal health information. Similarly, a health care provider will not have access to the driving record of the cardholder.
On the back of each B.C. Services Card card will be a barcode and magnetic strip, which can be scanned to reveal the personal information that's on the front of the card. An electronic chip embedded will provide future access to other government services, in person and online. The chip can be deactivated if the card is ever lost or stolen. MSP health numbers will also appear on the back of the card.
Similar features will apply for Services Cards for B.C. residents who do not have driver's licences and need the card for health care identification. For children and youths under age 19, photographs will not part of the new card. Seniors aged 75 and older who do not drive and can't get to a driver's licencing office, as well as new residents with temporary immigration status, will not be required to have their photographs on the card.
All eligible adults have until 2018 to apply for the BC Services Card.