Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. CareCards to Be Replaced by Powerful New Card, Starting in February

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. CareCards to Be Replaced by Powerful New Card, Starting in February

Article excerpt

B.C. CareCard replacement begins next month

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VICTORIA - British Columbia is introducing a high-tech identification card for everyone from infants to the elderly to replace the old CareCard health system, and add driver's licences and other government services.

The government says the idea fixes an antiquated system, but privacy critics have their doubts.

Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid said Monday the BC Services Card will be required by every B.C. resident to obtain medical services, helping clear up what she says is the currently outdated health CardCard system that has issued nine million cards for 4.4 million British Columbians since 1989.

The five-year project has a budget of $150 million and will start next month.

But B.C. privacy advocates voiced concerns about the government's plan to protect personal information with a card that links itself to vast amounts of data.

"My office is reviewing the BC Services Card," said a statement issued by Elizabeth Denham, B.C.'s information and privacy commissioner."

"It is critical that in developing this program, that the sensitive personal information of British Columbians is protected," said the statement.

Denham's statement said her office is evaluating the system's security issues and its design, but is still awaiting relevant information from the government.

Vincent Gogolek, B.C. freedom of information and privacy association executive director, said the Liberal government does not have a stellar track record when it comes to introducing high-tech programs.

Last July, former children's minister Mary McNeil admitted the government's $182-million Integrated Case Management program to improve information flow in the child welfare system needed repair after a report from the Independent Representative for Children and Youth concluded the database was deeply flawed and put children at risk. …

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