Expanding Health Card Renewal Services to Persons with Disabilities
The deadline to renew your Ontario Health Insurance Card is September 30, 2022. You can find information about how to renew your Ontario Insurance Health Card by visiting this webpage.
You may be required to attend a ServiceOntario location to renew your health card. You may also be able to book an appointment before you attend a ServiceOntario location ahead of time. For more information, you can visit this webpage.
If you cannot attend for a medical reason, you can send someone to renew on your behalf. For more information, you can visit this webpage.
You may be able to renew online if you have a valid driver’s license or Ontario photo card.
Even if you don’t have a driver’s license or Ontario photo card, you may be able to renew online if you are eligible. You may be able to ask ServiceOntario to schedule a remote appointment, in certain cases, if you cannot attend ServiceOntario because of your disability or for a medical reason.
Information about the potential availability of remote appointments, and how to request it through a process, has not yet been publicly shared by ServiceOntario. You will not be able to find this information on the webpage.
The purpose of this update is to share important information about the availability of a process to request a remote appointment to renew your Ontario health card, or other accommodations, if you need them because of your disability-related needs.
Please note that not everyone will be eligible for this service.
Background on Ontario Health Card Renewal Advocacy
At the beginning of January, 2022, ARCH called on the government of Ontario to expand health card renewal services to include those without a driver’s license or Ontario photo card to renew in a manner that accommodates their needs, while also extending the deadline at the time (February 28, 2022), to allow for such measures to be implemented. To read ARCH’s letter, you can visit this webpage.
On February 9, the government announced that it would extend the renewal deadline to September 30, and indicated that it would take steps to enable online health card renewal for those using Ontario photo cards. To read the government’s announcement, you can visit this webpage.
While this represented important progress for persons with disabilities, ARCH advised the government that the work was “not yet done” because “it does not remedy the discrimination of persons with disabilities without a driver’s license or an Ontario Photo Card.” To remedy the discrimination, ARCH outlined a series of twelve recommendations for the government’s consideration, including the provision of online in-person virtual appointments through Zoom (recommendation #5), and a process for members of the public to make disability-related accommodation requests (recommendation #11). To read ARCH’s letter, you can visit this webpage.
Through successive letters and meetings with leaders in government, ARCH learned that the government was taking steps to provide scheduled one-on-one video appointments, using remote technology, to be unveiled sometime in mid-September, for eligible persons who cannot attend ServiceOntario locations due to their disability. In addition, ARCH learned that the government was implementing a process for members of the public to make disability-related accommodation requests.
ARCH strongly recommended that the government publicly share this information through a news release and in printed renewal notices, and to extend the deadline in light of the tight timelines.
It is deeply concerning that, to date, there is no indication that remote appointments are available to eligible persons with disabilities on the Ontario.ca landing page. Nor is there any indication that the government will be extending the deadline to ensure continuity of health services.
It is equally concerning that the government has not publicly acknowledged that a person with disability-related needs would be able to request accommodations, including remote appointments.
We are not aware of any change in the government’s plans to make remote appointments available by mid-September, for those who qualify.
In light of our concerns, namely that those who need this accommodation the most would not know of its availability, the impending deadline, and the absence of public information indicating that remote appointments are available to those who are eligible through a process, we believe it is important to make this information publicly available.
Renewing Your Health Card
An individual who faces difficulties renewing their health card, for whatever reason, should contact ServiceOntario.
This includes those who require remote appointments and/or individualized accommodations due to their disability. Note that not everyone will be considered eligible.
To find out more, you can contact ServiceOntario at 1-866-532-3161 (TTY : 1-800-387-5559) or by email at [email protected]. Please don’t include any personal or financial information, for example your social insurance or credit card numbers.
Please note that you may be required to provide a completed medical exemption form to establish that you cannot attend at a ServiceOntario location in person due to your disabilities. You should not be charged for this form from your physician. If you have used a medical exemption form in the past, you may not need to obtain a new one.
If you are a person with a disability living in Ontario and you need legal advice, you can call ARCH for free, confidential summary legal advice legal information, and referrals.
Tel. Toll-free: 1-866-482-2724
Email: [email protected]
DISCLAIMER: The information provided in these materials is not intended to be legal advice. Consult a lawyer or legal worker if you need legal advice on a specific matter. This information is current as of September 21, 2022.
Please note that the information in this Update does not apply to all situations. A person’s accommodation needs may vary over time and at different points in the day. Always ask the person with the disability how to most appropriately accommodate them.
© ARCH Disability Law Centre, 2022