Province quashes digital ID plan — for now

The Saskatchewan government is delaying its development of a digital ID. (Submitted by SGI - image credit)
The Saskatchewan government is delaying its development of a digital ID. (Submitted by SGI - image credit)

The Saskatchewan government is putting plans to develop digital identification on hold, saying it will wait to see how similar programs progress in other provinces before moving forward.

On Thursday, the province announced a request for proposals (RFP) for the Saskatchewan Service Connect will not proceed.

"There are benefits from observing the rollout of digital ID in other provinces in Canada. We have asked officials in the Ministry of SaskBuilds and Procurement's information technology division to contact their colleagues in other jurisdictions," a government spokesperson said in a statement.

"We will be watching very closely to observe how their digital ID programs progress."

Last month, Jim Reiter, minister responsible for SaskBuilds, was asked about the digital ID at the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities bear pit.

Reiter replied the government was working closely with the information and privacy commissioner on any issues the ID would cause, and that it was still quite early in the planning stages.

Digital IDs would not be mandatory

Reiter said the IDs were a way to provide proof of identity quickly and would help avoid waiting for services. He also said acquiring one would not be mandatory.

Independent MLA Nadine Wilson asked about the ID during question period last month.

The government said Thursday that it would monitor uptake and costs in other provinces.

"The costs to develop this initiative would not have been insignificant. At this time we think it is reasonable to observe the uptake in other provinces to see if people are using it, understand the benefits, and to identify the best ways to protect citizens' privacy and security. This approach will also allow the province to determine if it has been developed at a reasonable cost."

The RFP was posted in Oct. 2021 and closed on Jan. 4, 2022.

It said the government was "seeking a long-term partner to design, build, test, implement, roll out, and operate a level of assurance three 2 digital identity, in collaboration with the government of Saskatchewan digital partner network."