96-year-old without photo ID denied new health card

A 96-year-old Ottawa woman who lost her Ontario health card says she's in a "jam" and caught up in red tape trying to get a replacement because she doesn't have proper proof of identification.

Two weeks ago, Elizabeth Stead went for tests at a local clinic and discovered her health card was missing.

She was issued a 90-day temporary card, but replacing her original is proving next to impossible because she doesn't have a driver's licence or other required photo ID, according to her son, Richard Stead.

"No one ever thought through the implications when they were creating it: What to do in a case like my mother’s?" Richard Stead told CBC News.

"She has lots of documents. She has her birth certificate, her marriage certificate, proof that she came to Canada. But none of it’s good enough now unless you have a photo ID.

"And to get a photo ID, you have to have a photo ID. That’s the paradox," he added.

Her only photo identification is her passport, which expired in 1992. Stead stopped driving in the 1950s, so has no driver's licence.

"I’m just wondering why this is going on," Stead said.

"I’ve not done anything wrong … I’ve never heard of anybody going through this before."

Her son, a former bureaucrat responsible for designing government systems for acquiring documentation, such as permits, licences and health cards, said he does not understand the hassle, either.

"I think they need to apply a test of reasonableness. We have lots of proof of who my mother is, we have lots of documents. Any reasonable person would look at that and say, 'What’s the problem?'" said Stead.

"I would’ve been ashamed if I ever designed a system that treated elderly people the way that my mother’s being treated."

David Salter, a spokesman for the MPP for her area, Bob Chiarelli, said in an email: "It's clear that [Mrs. Stead] needs and has a right to a new card. Mr. Chiarelli is aware of this case and has instructed his staff to resolve it as soon as possible ... we'll continue to work diligently to assist Richard and his mother."

Elizabeth Stead also hopes her MPP can find a solution.

"I think he should help me to get out of this jam that I seem to be in right now. I just want to live here the rest of my life and I just need my health card," she said.

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