Last November TAPS joined forces with the Pro Bono Students of Canada, Our Place Society, the Greater Victoria Public Library, and the constituency office of MLA Carole James to start Victoria’s first ever ID clinic. The ID clinic is a place where low-income people can come to get help filling out applications for replacement ID, and obtain financial support to cover any applicable fees. While the idea behind the clinic is relatively simple, word about our service quickly spread, and before long we started seeing line-ups to access the two UVic law students who volunteered as clinicians.
Low-income people often rely on government services to access much needed benefits for their health, income, and housing security, and to access those benefits you invariably need to prove who you are through identification. Even people who have been able to access benefits may find it hard keeping those benefits flowing without ID.
But if someone loses their ID, replacing it can be harder than you think. Many applications require significant fees, have complicated processes, and force an applicant to engage with a notary or guarantor to vouch for who they are. We have seen the barriers to obtaining identification be responsible for shocking hardships on people, and the ID clinic was created to break down those barriers.
Thanks to generous funding from the Victoria Foundation and the Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group (VIPIRG), we have already helped well over 100 people apply for replacement ID, and after going on a short break in April, we are optimistic that we will be able to keep the clinics running over the summer and beyond.
ID Clinics are held every two weeks and rotate between the Our Place Shelter and the downtown branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library. For information on upcoming clinic dates in the summer and fall of 2018, call TAPS, drop in to the TAPS office, or follow TAPS on social media.