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By Rob Ferguson, Queen’s Park Bureau
Motorists due to renew their Ontario driver’s licences can now do it online instead of standing in line.
It’s the latest upgrade at ServiceOntario, which is trying to drive more of its business to the web and now has one-third of its features online, including newborn baby registrations and licence plate sticker renewals.
“Ontarians are busy people, they have busy lives,” Government Services Minister John Milloy said Wednesday in announcing the change that will save the cash-strapped government $700,000 over five years.
The idea is to make life “a little more convenient” and ease lineups at ServiceOntario centres, added Milloy, even though only 5 per cent of motorists are expected to take advantage of the online renewals at first.
Each year, about 1.6 million Ontario drivers renew their licenses, which is required every 5 years.
Most will be eligible for the online experience, providing they are under 79 years of age, don’t have outstanding tickets or fines, have licences in good standing, haven’t changed their address in the last 90 days, their existing driver’s licence photo is recent and are not required to take vision tests, among other conditions.
The renewal fee is $80 whether done online or in person.
Notices mailed out by the Ministry of Transportation will indicate whether a motorist is required to show up at a ServiceOntario centre to have a new picture taken. That must be done in person.
If the renewal is done within 28 days of the licence expiry date, or up to a year after, motorists can download a temporary permit until their new licence comes in the mail within four to six weeks.
Milloy urged Ontarians needing anything from ServiceOntario check to see if it’s available online before heading out to stand in line.
Officials said the online use of ServiceOntario varies widely. For example, about 90 per cent of parents register their new babies online but only 10 per cent of motorists renew their licence plate stickers by computer.
More features are expected to move online, such as health card renewals, said Milloy.
“That’s one that we are looking at.”
The government is now on a five-year push to phase out the old red and white health cards with no photos or expiry dates in a bid to reduce costly health-care fraud.
About 3.1 million Ontarians still have the old cards and will get notices in the mail requiring them to get the more secure photo health cards, which come with expiry dates and require renewals.