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Ontario's pandemic exemptions for ID and driver renewals are about to expire

Anyone with an Ontario health card, photo card, driver's licence, or licence plate sticker that expired after the start of March, 2020 (and we all know what happened that month) got a reprieve when the province temporarily eliminated renewal requirements.

But with another wave of the virus seeming to subside, the province is ending the free ride and reinstating renewal requirements, and there are now only a few weeks left to get your expired identification and driver/vehicle details renewed, the deadline of February 28, 2022 quickly approaching.

If you have ID or any other Ontario registration that expired during the pandemic days and haven't got the memo yet — ServiceOntario sent out letters at the end of 2021 — you're running out of time, with three weeks left before your cards, licence, and plate stickers become next to useless.

While this applies to most plate stickers, and other driver, vehicle, and carrier products, operators of heavy commercial vehicles had until Dec. 31, 2021, to renew their stickers, that deadline already long expired.

Those still working towards their G licence, with class G1, G2, M1 or M2 licences, have quite a bit longer to get their renewal information together, their deadline to complete testing to maintain or upgrade their licence not occurring until the end of 2022.

Anyone taking a Beginner Driver Education course between Mar. 1, 2019, and Dec. 31, 2021 have until the end of 2022 to complete their course.

Senior drivers aged 80 and over (Class G/M licences) must renew by the same date as other M class drivers, though the Senior Driver's Group Education Session program requirement for drivers aged 80 and older to visit a ServiceOntario centre in person to renew has been waived, so these select few can do everything they need to online — which may present its own set of challenges for octogenarians.

And if drivers think they're only going to have to pay this year's renewal fees, they should think again, the province back-charging for exempted renewals. This won't be cheap, with plate stickers alone costing drivers about $120 per year.

So what happens if you miss these deadlines? Well, for starters, you wouldn't have a valid health card — complicating any health care requirements. Not renewing your driver's licence, plate stickers, and other driver information by the deadline could run you some pretty stiff monetary penalties, or worse, should be pulled over repeatedly.

To avoid a sudden wave of crowds at ServiceOntario locations, the province is encouraging online renewal where applicable, though licence renewals will have to be done at one of the more than 40 centres around the province that are offering appointment bookings.

This is cause for concern for some though, with a few advocates speaking out in favour of making online renewals more widely available.

Since this article was published, the Ontario government announced an extension to renew health cards until September 30, 2022.

"In response to the pandemic our government extended the renewal requirements for Ontario health cards," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "While the majority of Ontarians have continued to renew their documents throughout the pandemic, we are committed to ensuring all Ontarians have the opportunity to renew while continuing to access the care they need, when they need it."

Lead photo by

Glenn Dickler/Google

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