marc bence/for metro calgary


Three-month-old Paige gnaws on the new birth certificates unveiled yesterday at Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton.

The province is hoping a new “high-security” birth certificate that’s too big to fit in a wallet will prevent identity thieves from targeting Albertans.

The new certificate, which looks and feels like an oversized Canadian $5 bill, offers more than 20 new security features, including a bar code, water marking features and paper made of a polymer material.

“My first thought when I saw this was, ‘That’s too big to carry,’ but this should be protected like a passport and it should only be carried when you absolutely have to,” said Service Alberta Minister Lloyd Snelgrove, who unveiled the new certificates yesterday.

The last time the province changed the design of the birth certificates was in the early 1980s when identity theft was something that was almost unheard of, he said.

“We want to get this done right the first time rather than produce a document that didn’t have all the features that we needed in it,” he said when asked if the province should have acted sooner in making the new certificate.

The new certificates will be available beginning Feb. 1 for new babies and those wishing to make replacements at any provincial registries office for around $20.