Fun and Games in the Age of Identity Theft: Getting a Handicapped Parking pass for my mother at Service Ontario

I get it.

We are in the age of identity theft when all documents can be gamed and perfect forgeries are the rule. Governments have to be careful and set rules.

But can it go too far? You be the Judge.

My father died on November 1, 2019 and among other things, his handicapped parking pass expired with his death. My mother now needed a pass as they most always attended appointments together and we used his.

My mother cannot walk unaided and has vascular dementia. She moved in late December to a smaller apartment in the same complex. She was born in Newfoundland in 1922 and immigrated to Canada in 1946. She became a Canadian citizen with all other native Newfoundlanders in 1949. She does not have a driver’s license but has an Ontario Seniors identification card. She would not be able to endure the lineups and bustle of a Service Ontario lineup.

We visited the Doctor last week and filled out the application for the Accessible parking pass together. The doctor signed and dated it as did my mother. I had what I thought I needed.

Visit#1 to Service Ontario

I did not have to line up long as they have a special desk for Accessible permits. I handed the application to the client service representative.  She asked if I had my mother’s health card and her driver’s license. I noted hopefully that she did not have a driver’s license but that she did have a seniors’ card. I reached for my phone where I had photos of both with the relevant registration numbers.

She said that I would have to bring in the actual cards –that they could not accept phone photos. I had not known this. Fair enough. Perhaps I should have. I said I would come back with both.

Visit #2 to Service Ontario

I went back to the same clerk. No problem. She began to fill in the details when she noticed that my mother’s seniors’ card, although in the same building, had a different unit number.

She informed me that since the address on the seniors card was now incorrect – she also used the word ‘wrong’, that she could not process the application until the seniors card had been changed so it would match the parking permit. She suggested that I use another piece of identification which I did not have with me.

The only pieces of identification that would suffice, she said, were a valid Canadian birth certificate or citizenship papers (where an applicant could not produce a Canadian birth certificate).

I explained that my mother did not have a Canadian birth certificate because she was born in Newfoundland and had no Citizenship papers because she was automatically made a Citizen through a Constitutional amendment in 1949 and neither received nor required papers.

The representative seemed skeptical and clearly had no knowledge of this snippet of Canadian history. Without these other forms of identification, she said that I would have to make an application to amend the address on the seniors’ card.

The only other possibility was if I had power of attorney (POA) for my mother. I said that I did and I left saying I would return with the POA for my mother and the completed application.

Undaunted, I went back and got my mother to sign the application for an amended seniors’ card and I retrieved a copy of the POA. If one avenue didn’t work, the other would.

Visit #3 to Service Ontario

I got the same representative again. She looked at the form and said the date on the application for the permit was different from the date on the application for the seniors’ card amendment. She sought the advice of a supervisor and this was deemed permissible.

She looked at the seniors’ card application form and said that she had asked only for signatures and initials where she had indicated. Although I did get these, I also filled out the rest of the form in the places indicated for an applicant. Special parts of the form were designated for ‘Office use only’ and I had not touched these.

She said she could not accept the form because we had filled out other areas of the form requesting information that looked to me to be areas that the applicant should fill out. Apparently they were not.

We then went to option ‘B’ – the power of attorney. I took it out of the envelope. She looked at it. She then noted correctly that this was a copy of the POA. I agreed that it was.

She then said that she could not accept a copy of the POA – it had to be an original. She noted that she had not asked for a ‘copy’ of the POA – that she had asked for the POA itself and that I did not have it. I would have to bring in an original.

Since I had already sent my last original of the POA to Veteran’s Affairs – also no copies allowed – I would have to go back to our lawyers and obtain another original.

I kicked up a fuss. I demanded to see a supervisor. After the kerfuffle, I walked away with a nice pink temporary parking pass for my mother on the proviso that I bring back a properly executed form changing the address unit for my mother’s apartment without filling it in except for the signatures and initials.

I left and got the form prepared.

Visit #4 to Service Ontario (Friday January 10, 2020)

I arrived at about 2:30 in the afternoon and the lineups for various credentials snaked through the office and out the door. I pushed by the people standing in the doorway and walked up to the ‘no lineup’ desk for Accessible permits. Of course, this time I was not there to obtain an accessible permit and I was told to go back to the end of the line and join the queue.

I walked out the door and stood behind the last person in the cold for about 45 seconds.

I smiled and turned around and headed to my car in the parking lot.

I looked at my mother’s card – the main address is right – the postal code is correct. I’m leaving it as it is. They can catch up with me.

I am not coming back a fifth time.