manitoba time machine

I have a confesssion. Every time I look at my Manitoba health card I feel like I’ve just gone for a ride on the Manitoba time machine.

Manitoba has a very archaic health card system. First off, it is a white paper card with perforated edges. Yup, it looks worse than a library card. Or worse than a rewards card for Shoppers Drug Mart. Should I laminate it myself or perhaps add some scotch tape to protect it? Hope I don’t accidentally wash it and then have to pick up the shredded pieces in my dryer. As a new Manitoban, it is kind of embarrassing to tell you the truth. I’ve shown it to a few Nova Scotia friends and they have laughed their heads off. Nova Scotia health cards are very pretty and contain a scenic photo of a beautiful Nova Scotia beach and they are a hard plastic credit card type. The current Manitoba health cards do not really help me win the argument with my Nova Scotia friends that Manitoba is a progressive, forward thinking, exciting place to live when the health cards are stuck in the 1950s.

Secondly, Manitoba health cards are issued one per family. There is a “head of the household” listed and then all other members of the family are listed below on the same card. Again, this makes me feel like I’ve gone for a ride on the Manitoba time machine. As a feminist I find the “head of the household” part a little strange and very archaic. Having an entire family on one card must be an administrative nightmare in the world of common law, different and multiple last names, blended families, step-parents, joint custody, divorce, legally separated, second marriages, etc. I am curious as to how often cards have to be changed or updated, and how much time and money is wasted on this process. In contrary, in Nova Scotia each person receives an individual health card that stays with you, no need to have multiple family members on one card.

I continually find myself wondering when will Manitoba take the big step and switch to credit card style individual health cards for all. Surely it can’t be that difficult to implement, and there must be some real benefits to switching to the more modern system. So come on Manitoba government, you finally got rid of the two piece paper drivers license, now it is time to tackle the Manitoba Health Card.

What things in Manitoba make you feel like you have gone for a ride on the Manitoba time machine? Do you think Manitoba should switch to a newer form of health card? Why or why not?