British Columbia

Drop-in centre helps people replace and keep IDs

There are many routine tasks you can't do without proper government ID, such as open a bank account or apply for an apartment. The Kettle Society in Vancouver is a non-profit organization that also run an ID bank, which helps people obtain and keep identification.

'There can be a lineup before the office space opens,' say ID bank staffer

Brian Caulfield, right, lives in transitional housing, and he lost his birth certificate and his B.C. ID when his bag was stolen in the library. He is pictured with Ryan Teraverst. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

Without proper government ID, there are many routine tasks you can't do, such as open a bank account or apply for an apartment.

The Kettle Society in Vancouver is a non-profit organization that provides a range of community services including running an ID bank, which helps people obtain and keep identification.

Staff there say a lack of ID creates barriers for people trying to access essential services.

Janet Baxter, who works at Kettle Society on Venables Street, says the ID bank operates as a drop-in service. Staff consult with about five people each day. But demand is high.

"Often there can be a lineup before the office space opens," Baxter said.

The Kettle Society supports people living with mental health conditions. The ID Bank opened about a year-and-a-half ago and is open to anyone. So far, it's helped about 300 clients.

ID stolen at library

Clients typically include people who have low-incomes or are homeless. The ID bank covers the cost of the birth certificate, replacement Canadian citizenship cards or permanent residency cards, and it can also serve as a mailing address. 

Brian Caulfield lives in transitional housing, and he lost everything when his bag was stolen in the library. Replacing his ID was difficult because he didn't have a guarantor to vouch for his information.

Janet Baxter works at the ID bank and says there's usually a lineup before the office opens. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

The Kettle has been pushing the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) over the last year to make it easier for clients to get photo ID.

Kettle advocacy  manager Ryan Teraverst says to qualify for B.C photo ID through ICBC, a resident is required to show two pieces of identification. If not, the resident needs a guarantor.

The ID bank has also started safely storing ID for people who have nowhere to put their documents

Franklin Sanchez came to Canada as a refugee from Honduras and is staying at a shelter right. Sanchez has three pieces of Canadian identification he needs to store: his refugee document, social insurance number, and a work permit. 

"There's no place for me to have my ID.. there's no spot," says Sanchez.

Currently about 100 clients store their identification documents at the Kettle Society. Full-time service is scheduled to begin in about a month.

with files from Margaret Gallagher

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