Ontario residents can now apply for an enhanced driver’s licence to use instead of a passport when crossing into the United States, Transportation Minister Jim Bradley announced yesterday, even though the new documents won’t be ready for weeks.
The U.S. will require passports or other secure identification documents for anyone crossing into the country by land or sea starting June 1, while a passport will still be required to enter the U.S. by air.
“If you were to apply today, you’d likely see that (enhanced licence) come in a few weeks,” Bradley said.
“They may well be ready June 1 — not all, but many of them will be.”
Ontario promised to have its enhanced licences ready last winter, not mere weeks before the new border rules go into effect, said Progressive Conservative critic John O’Toole.
“What we argue with is saying one thing and not delivering,” O’Toole said in the legislature.
The Opposition complained the government’s slow delivery of the enhanced licences poses a threat to the economy.
“We estimate that 92,000 cars and 22,000 trucks carrying $650 million worth of products crosses the Ontario-U.S. border each day,” O’Toole said. “This is affecting the mobility of the economy of Ontario.”
Bradley defended the delay in preparing the new licences, saying it took time to satisfy all the security and privacy concerns in both countries before details could be agreed on. “You have to meet all of the requirements of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, of the Canada Border Services Agency and … the privacy commissioner.”