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No certificate, no licence

Amanda Vaughan
Northern News Services
Published Friday, August 31, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - Frank Landry is stuck between a rock and the NWT's demanding licence renewal process.

"I don't know what to do, or who to go to," said Landry, voicing his frustration. He lost his birth certificate, and is having trouble getting a copy of it from the Ontario government.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Frank Landry stands with the fifth Service Ontario birth certificate application form he has received, after getting caught in a snarl of government red tape. - Amanda Vaughan/NNSL photo


The NWT Department of Transportation requires residents who are renewing their driver's licenses to have at least one of the following documents to prove their legal name and date of birth:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Passport
  • Canadian Military ID
  • Federal Police ID
  • Citizenship Certificate Card
  • Permanent Residency Card
  • Native Status Card issued by -DIAND/INAC
  • An endorsed court order
  • Record of Landing (Form IMM 1000)
  • Study Permit (Form IMM 1442)
  • Work Permit (Form IMM 1442)
  • Visitor's Record (Form IMM 1442)
  • Refugee Approved Status (Form IMM 1442)
  • Temporary Resident Form (Form IMM 1442)
  • Landry needs the certificate to renew his NWT driver's license, which is an essential part of his employment as a truck driver in the territory.

    "This could cost me my job," Landry told Yellowknifer in an interview on Wednesday.

    To renew an NWT driver's license, the territory's regulations require a person to provide a secure, government-issued document such as a passport or a birth certificate, in addition to the expiring license, and a document proving the applicant's address.

    The process is onerous compared to requirements in the NWT's neighbouring provinces and territories.

    Yellowknifer checked with government websites and licensing departments for B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon, and Ontario, and could not find any renewal requirements that were nearly as stringent as the NWT's.

    While many required supplementary identification, they recognized credit cards, health cards, student cards or employer identification cards, none of which are eligible in the NWT.

    The Department of Transportation's manager of public affairs and communications, Earl Blacklock, said that the territory's regulations are a part of a nation-wide process that accompanied introduction of security enhanced driver's licences.

    "Every jurisdiction participates in national discussions, and they agreed on what the requirements would be," said Blacklock.

    He was unable to comment on why other provinces indicated different renewal requirements than the NWT.

    Blacklock also said there were mechanisms in place for cases where someone has failed to meet the requirements despite "all reasonable efforts."

    "The registrar can evaluate the situations on a case-by-case basis. It is clearly stated at the bottom of the list of requirements," said Blacklock.

    Landry has been in communications with Service Ontario for over a year about his birth certificate application, because he neglected to fill out his middle initial on the first form he sent to them. He said it took Service Ontario six months to contact him regarding the application, and inform him that they needed an entirely new application because of one missing L.

    "I told them it was 'L' over the phone, but they said they couldn't do it that way," said Landry, who is waiting for a response to his last application for a birth certificate.