British Columbia

NDP, B.C. Conservatives slam new CareCards

The NDP is criticizing the B.C. government's plan to replace CareCards with high-tech medical ID cards.

The NDP is criticizing the B.C. government's plan to replace CareCards with high-tech medical ID cards.

The enhanced CareCards — with a photo and a security chip — will help reduce fraud, according to B.C. Health Minister Mike de Jong.

NDP health critic Mike Farnworth said de Jong announced the plan without any proof the health care cards will prevent fraud, and that he also misled people about the costs involved.

He said de Jong originally said the new cards would cost $10 million, but officials later revealed they'll cost $28 million a year for the next five years.

B.C. Conservatives call for review

Meanwhile, John Cummins — leader designate of the B.C. Conservatives — has called for an immediate review of the issuing of CareCards.

"The Liberals are handing out CareCards like candy," he said in a written release.

"The Ministry of Health is issuing out more than 40,000 new CareCards a month — that's more than 120,000 since Christy Clark became premier. This Liberal incompetence is costing millions because old cards can be used to defraud our health care system. The Clark government talks about cracking down on fraud at some point in the future — but is doing nothing about it right now."

The provincial government has admitted there are about 9.1 million CareCards in circulation in B.C. In the last year, the province has issued about 500,000 new CareCards, while according to Statistics Canada B.C.'s population has only grown by about 60,000 people.

"Right now, there is twice the number of CareCards as there are people in B.C. The Liberals have ignored this issue for years. There is talk about photo ID on CareCards — which only solves part of the problem," Cummins said.

Darrell Evans — program director for the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association — has pledged to investigate the introduction of the new cards, saying he is concerned the smart cards will open the door to more sharing of sensitive personal information.

With files from The Canadian Press