So I’ve considered something like this for sometime and today’s article in the National Post about thirteen health cards lead to this post. Why stop with a single health card? Canadians should have a single citizen services card; health, voting, taxes, student loans, any service available from any level of government. This should streamline costs, overlap and hassles citizens face. A similar residents card for non citizens should also be implemented at the same time.
The first requirement will be a single database for all citizens to have access through the card to any information any level of government has on them. Privacy would mean a lockout system so a civil servant can only get access to the information they have requirements for. Police and CSIS would only be able to access to what they currently have access to and a warrant would be needed to get more information from an individuals file. None of this is actually new as many countries already have centralized databases.
Kiosks in convenient locations would allow busy people to renew their Ontario driver’s licence, buy a fishing licence for a trip to Albert, pay off a New Brunswick parking ticket and check the progress of an access to information request. There will have to be good security on the kiosks and people may need to do a retinal scan or some other bio scan to overcome people using password as a password.
As the article mentions getting ten provinces, three territories, a mish mash of federal departments, local governments and thirty million citizens to agree on how this system to work would require a spectacular Old Testament style of miracle. Canadians are so used to everything being in silos that they think the silos are as iconic as grain elevators, beavers and warring premiers. It could take decades of visionary planning, debate and leadership to bring everyone together on this. Unlikely with our era of reactionary politicians playing to the last poll numbers and the next news cycle.
Another thought. As this would also be a student card for public schools and allow access to student records there should be a child’s version issued when the child is enrolled in school. Parents would still have access and control over it but it would help kids learn the system. Another version should be issued upon moving from primary to secondary school with a few new privacy settings to keep parents out. Special children and adolescent kiosks could be set up where convenient for them.
Citizens could opt into emails, texts, tweets etc that would give notice of other services available for them or programs that could help them. People could also allow certain statistics to be anonymously collected by Stats Can for their surveys. Highly trained government services people could help those who have difficulty with the kiosks to insure everyone is included.
Sure having this work is a bit of fantasy. Still it would be a nice, easy solution to endless run around, inertia and red tape we face with bureaucracy.