Ontario residents will no longer have to travel as far and line up as long to get their hands on a health card or driver’s licence as the province significantly increases the locations which provide the services.

Minister of Government Services Harinder Takhar announced plans yesterday to merge health card, licence and vehicle registration facilities at integrated ServiceOntario centres starting this fall.

The announcement means health cards, which were available from only 27 Ontario provincial health plan offices, can now be picked up from 300 locations.

“The priority of the government was to provide integrated one-stop-shop­ping,” said Takhar. “This is a major step forward to providing great value for money and excellent service to Ontarians.”

For residents in rural and northern communities the plan means no longer having to drive long distances to pick up a health card. Now nearly 95 per cent of all Ontario residents will be within 10 kilometres of an integrated ServiceOntario centre, said Takhar.

Rural residents, who previously had only two locations to choose from, will be able to pick up health cards from 160 centres.

The integrated centres will become fully operational over the next 18 months to simplify and speed up health card and licence renewals across Ontario.

Currently, only two ServiceOntario centres offer all services in one location.