TORONTO – The Ontario government is permanently eliminating the $35 fee for birth certificates for approximately 40,000 vulnerable Ontarians. The Birth Certificate Fee Waiver Program will ensure not-for-profit partner organizations can assist Ontarians who may be experiencing homelessness or other severe financial hardships to obtain a birth certificate free of charge.
An Ontario birth certificate is a foundational identity document, but individuals who are experiencing homelessness may face major impediments obtaining or replacing a lost copy. With this change, the government is removing barriers to accessing essential public services such as housing, health care, food, and social assistance that may require a birth certificate as proof of identity. The program also resolves other major impediments such as the lack of a mailing address and an acceptable guarantor, with participating organizations filling this need.
“Our government is keeping costs down by providing $1.4 million in financial relief to the most vulnerable Ontarians and ensuring they can more easily access the critical services they need,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Government and Consumer Services. “Eliminating this fee is another way we’re supporting the work of not-for-profits across our province and building a stronger Ontario.”
By making the Birth Certificate Fee Waiver Program permanent, the government is ensuring stability for organizations providing this service, which can now continue focusing on serving the community without having to worry about looking for other sources of funding.
“Ensuring that our most vulnerable have the ability to acquire the documents they need to access supports and services is vital to improving outcomes,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “We will continue to work across government to build innovative solutions and cut red tape to make life easier for the people of Ontario.”
There are approximately 27 not-for-profit organizations across Ontario currently participating in the fee waiver program and include health centres, shelters, and legal clinics.
Access to government identification is important for individuals experiencing poverty, who require this documentation to access vital supports, including housing and social assistance.