Say it’s only a paper card…

March 19th, 2009 by Laurel

My snazzy MB driver's license.

This is my first time moving to a new province as an adult, so yesterday I got to experience getting a new, new driver’s license, and a brand new health card. Looking at these new pieces of ID, I gotta ask: Manitoba, what’s up with the paper?

I first saw a Manitoba driver’s license right after I moved to Winnipeg. The license itself seemed pretty normal, until I was told it was one of two pieces, and the card needed to be housed in a plastic sleeve with a piece of paper with your address and personal info. The plastic card part of my license won’t arrive for another few weeks — I get to cruise around in my non-car with just the paper part. It’s better than the carbon-copy style print-out you get in BC when waiting for a new license, but a little odd to have as part of the permanent set.

BC's address update.

License address update, BC style.

However, I can see one big benefit to the two piece system: address updates. The only piece of the license that has your address on it is the paper part, so when you move that’s the only part that needs to be replaced. It’s also the part that expires yearly; as any place that sells car insurance in MB can also handle driver’s licenses, it’s pretty easy to get updated.

BC’s system, by comparison, doesn’t seem as well thought out. Every time I moved in Vancouver, I’d get a dot-matrix print out of my new address stuck to the back of my driver’s license. This could only be done at an official Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) office, which was a bit of a hassle — or at least that’s my excuse for why the address stuck to the back of my old license is three apartments old. Because of this alone, MB licenses will probably grow on me, once I get used to the bundle.


My MB Health Card, and old BC Care Card.

The health card, on the other hand, I really don’t understand. It’s basically a piece of card-stock with perforated edges and three folds, listing some personal information and an expiry date. It seems like it would be crazy-easy to forge, and that it’s going to get thrashed in no time if I carry it around with me. My old BC CareCard was a credit-card style piece of plastic that I’ve had since they were first issued in the early 90’s, and that has survived, amongst other things, a trip through a washer/dryer.

Does anyone know the story behind the MB driver’s license or health card? Or better yet, recommendations for keeping them both in one piece?

11 Responses to “Say it’s only a paper card…”

  1. Michel says:

    Well… both pieces of your MB driver’s license (paper address part + plastic photo ID part) can be kept in the Official Government Issued Plastic Sleeve. The sleeves are FREE and are available at any auto insurance place. Downside: they are secretly embedded with a mini-GPS device so the government can track your every move (also: they taste horrible on toast).

    As for your MB Health card, here’s how I keep mine preserved in its original, crispy state: I put it in a medium-sized ziplock freezer bag (this keeps it safe from the dreadfully moist environment that is my pocket). Then, I put said ziplock bag between pages 648 and 649 of my 1998 edition Canadian Oxford Dictionary, which I, of course, bring everywhere with me.

  2. Laurel says:

    It’s so obvious! God, why didn’t I think of that? [digs around for her CanOD]

  3. John says:

    I agree that our health cards could use some modernization and fortification. I’ve always been meaning to laminate the darned thing but it’s gotten to the point where it would simply be a waste, now.

  4. cherenkov says:

    Welcome to Winnipeg. 🙂

    I had never given the health card any thought until know. Mine has managed to survive for many years in my wallet, but it would make sense to have it modernized, now that you mention it.

    As for the drivers license … we are slowly working our way to a one-piece system. Just taking a while to get there. We are stuck with the paper part for another year or two.

  5. Laurel says:

    John – That’s a good idea! I wonder if it would still be valid if laminated. Even a plastic sleeve – like the driver’s license – seems like it would be an improvement.

    Thanks for the welcome, Cherenkov! It’s good to know that the health cards can survive harsh wallet climates! I think I found a safe-ish spot for mine in my wallet. Now I guess it’s just a matter of time to see how well it holds out. I have to admit, I feel less concerned about the driver’s license, since it gets renewed every year 😉

  6. Welcome to Winnipeg peeps…

    Great site. Keep up the good work.

    As for the paper, I made the same comments when I moved back to Winnipeg in 2006 after 16 years in Toronto.

    Even the latest government attempt at modernizing the driver license is a failure. Not sure why this is proving to be such a difficult task.

    The DL needs to be a five year renewal thing. I’ve heard something is up along those lines. I won’t hold my breath.


  7. Laurel says:

    Thanks, Grumpy Old Man!

    I remember reading an article that had a late-2009/2010 delivery date for one-piece licenses in Manitoba, but I’m not sure how many dates were announced before that one.

    I have to admit, I’m kind of getting attached to the two-piecer, so I hope to have it for a little longer 😉

  8. Welcome to Manitoba, it’s just like living in BC except the rain is white and doesn’t soak into the ground in the winter.

    We don’t grown tulips in the spring like in BC because the snow doesn’t melt until summer. Instead we have these blue crocus flowers that kind of look like mini tulips but the flowers only last a week or less depending on how many blizzards happen.

    Speaking of summer, that when our provincial bird the mosquito starts to carry off small animals and children – you have been warned!

    We have an NDP government – please bring more people from BC so we can change that.

    Please don’t complain about the Manitoba Health card because it’s end up being given out at AutoPac agencies and you’ll have to get it renewed 3 months before (or is it after?) your birthday just like the drivers licence and car registration.

    Don’t ask why the registration and licence renewal is like that because no one really knows. Although rumour is it’s because they bought the computer program from somewhere on sale at clear out prices because it didn’t come with any manuals and no one has figured out how it really works yet.

    Buy a blue flashing strobe light just in case you get sick and have to go to a hospital. You’ll probably still die of neglect in a hallway, but at least they won’t be able to say they didn’t see you.

    Unlike BC we don’t have totem poles. If you spot something that looks like a totem pole it’s just one of locals on top of a telephone pole waiting to steal your vehicle. Beware!

    On the plus side the water is safe to drink in Winnipeg and the taste of chorline is perfectly normal – as is the smell of fish.

    There’s some good places to eat, drink, and be merry in safety if you enjoy holding your drink while sitting on the john.

    The people are friendly and nice, and you don’t have to worry my wife won’t let me out of the house alone any more.


  9. bcfitness says:

    I moved here last summer from Vancouver and asked those exact same questions, among others, to which nobody could give me an answer. I explained that I have had my BC DL and Medical card for 20 years and they have always had the one piece technology that has yet to be imported to Manitoba. Some Third World countries have also obtained this elusive ability to put all your information on one credit card style piece of plastic.

  10. Aly says:

    I know this is an old post, but just FYI: I laminated my health card in 2 parts, cost like $1 at Staples, and I’ve never had a problem with it. Not at clinics or hospitals, nowhere. Mine was getting pretty beat up, which is why I did it 🙂

  11. manny says:

    Ok thanks to all these comments about the one piece drivers license and health card!
    But hold on, what happens if you driver’s license get taken???? (Suspended)

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