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Passport Alternative Announced, David O Presiding

By SooToday.com Staff
Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Orazietti announces provincial passport alternative with new enhanced driver's licenses and photo ID cards

Local MPP chairs committee on McGuinty government legislation that would make border crossings easier for Sault residents

QUEEN'S PARK, ON - (October 21) - David Orazietti, MPP presided over the standing committee on general government's hearings yesterday on the McGuinty government's legislation that, if passed, would allow Ontarians the option of using an enhanced driver's license as an alternative to a passport when crossing the Canada-U.S. border.

"This new enhanced driver's license is great news for Sault residents as it would provide members of our community who cross our border regularly a more convenient and less costly alternative to a passport," said Orazietti. "Our government's leadership on this issue is also making it easier for Americans to continue to support our local economy, including important tourist destinations such as the Agawa Canyon Tour Train and Searchmont Ski Resort."

Starting June 1, 2009, the U.S. government will require all visitors prove their citizenship at the border.

To provide an alternative to a passport, which can be both costly and inconvenient, the McGuinty government has introduced Bill 85 - The Photo Card Act.

The enhanced driver's license proposed through this legislation would include the same security features introduced by the province in December, 2007 to protect against fraud, misuse and identity theft while also giving Ontarians the option of adding Canadian citizenship information.

"Our government is making it easier for people to travel to and from the U.S. by giving drivers the option of using an enhanced driver's license as a passport alternative at land and sea border crossings," said Transportation Minister Jim Bradley. "Safe and efficient borders keep our economy moving."

Sault Ste. Marie should have a federal passport office, as it is the only border community serving 500,000 people living in the North Eastern Ontario region.

However, given the immediate negative economic impact that new U.S. requirements will have, the provincial government cannot afford to wait for a passport office to be opened in our community.

More than 92,000 cars and over 22,300 trucks carrying almost $650 million in goods cross the Ontario-U.S. border daily.

It is estimated that Ontario could lose 1.5 million American visitors every year if the enhanced driver's license program is not implemented.

Also proposed in the legislation is a photo card for Ontarians that do not drive, which has long been advocated for by youth, people with disabilities and seniors.

Holders of the card who are Canadian citizens will also have the option of enhancing this card for use as a passport alternative.

Reproduced from http://www.sootoday.com/content/news/full_story.asp?StoryNumber=35232

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