Green MLA calls on government to remove fees for name, gender change for transitioning Islanders
'That seems exorbitant for something that is so vital and essential to someone's identity'
A Green MLA is asking government to consider waiving fees associated with legal name and gender changes for transitioning Islanders.
Lynne Lund raised the issue in the legislature Tuesday. She said a constituent recently wrote to her, explaining that their family was charged more than $200 in fees in the change of name and change of gender identity process.
According to the government's website, the fee for a change of name is $185 and the fee for change of gender is $25 plus additional fees for changes to a birth certificate. The site says fees are also subject to change and there are additional fees for rushed requests.
Lund asked Minister of Justice and Public Safety Bloyce Thompson whether government has ever considered removing that fee.
"Their family was charged $185 for a change of name and $50 for a change of gender identification. That seems exorbitant for something that is so vital and essential to someone's identity," Lund said.
"Minister, have you considered waiving the fees all together for change of name and change of gender for transitioning Islanders?"
Thompson said he would take these concerns back to the department and see if any changes could be made.
"I have to acknowledge that that is an exorbitant amount of money and I wasn't aware of that," Thompson said.
"We'll definitely have a look at that and see if we can make changes to that right away."
Process needs to be simplified
Lund also said the process needs to be easier for people to navigate.
She said requesting a change of name and change of gender identification requires two separate sets of forms, fees and requirements for documentation.
"Given that a change of gender and change of name are likely to happen at the same time, will you commit to simplifying this into one process?" Lund asked.
Thompson said his department would take every step to simplify the process and take a closer look at where that process could change.
Lund also questioned why a change of gender identity requires a written statement from a medical practitioner, which she said creates a barrier for people trying to update their personal information.
"Especially when so many Islanders don't have access to a family doctor," she said.
Thompson said he wants to support transitioning Islanders any way possible, and he would have the department take a look at the process and see how it can be made easier.