This guest blog post comes from Service Canada (operating under Employment and Social Development Canada), which offers Canadians a single point of access to a wide range of Government of Canada programs and services on the Internet, by phone or in person.

Modernization of the Social Insurance Number Program

Fifty years ago, the Social Insurance Number (SIN) was introduced as a client record identifier for the Canada Pension Plan and other programs. Later, Canada Revenue Agency began using the SIN for income tax purposes.

Since then, anyone working in Canada was required to have a SIN. Plastic cards with SIN numbers were issued.

The SIN card was never intended to be an identity card as it does not contain any security features or identifying attributes. Since SIN cards are wallet-sized, many people carry them on their person, despite Service Canada's warnings not to do so. Also, as more Canadians use online automated services there is less need for a physical card.

On March 28, 2014, Service Canada will stop producing plastic cards. Individuals will continue to be reminded to keep all government documents containing personal information, including the SIN, in a safe place. This modernization of the SIN program will better protect personal information while making sure individuals still have access to government programs and services.

 

What the change to the SIN will mean

There are also some SIN Regulations and changes to the Employment Insurance Regulations. Starting on March 31, 2014, Service Canada will issue SINs in a paper format instead of a card. SIN cards that are not expired and are currently in circulation can still be used or presented to employers. However, the SIN will still be required to apply for government programs and services, and for income tax purposes.

Employers are required to request the SINs of employees and record the number within three days of them starting work. The existing SIN card, the letter (Confirmation of SIN) or other documentation showing the SIN can be provided to the employer. You can also request other pieces of identification in order to correctly identify employees before finalizing their employment documents.

 

Protect the SIN in the workplace

To help protect employee information and prevent fraud or SIN theft, you should store all employees' sensitive personal information in a secure area or on an encrypted computer system. Inform Service Canada if you suspect fraud or abuse of an employee's SIN.

Learn more
To learn more about these changes or for more information regarding the use of the SIN, visit www.servicecanada.gc.ca/sinemployer.