The opposition BC Liberals introduced a bill Wednesday to stop what they call an outdated practice when it comes to name changes after marriage.
Opposition House Leader Mary Polak hopes the legislation will get called for a debate. This is the second time she has introduced the legislation.
Currently, those wanting to change their names legally after marriage can adopt their spouse’s name for free, but Polak says those who want to hyphenate must pay fees.
At a news conference in Victoria, Polak added that the legal name change process can take months and cost hundreds of dollars, and disproportionately affects women.
“Most British Columbians would be surprised to learn that in the year 2020, it is still the case when you get married, if you wish to hyphenate your name or combine your two names – basically anything other than taking your spouse’s name – you may not do that without going through the formal name change process,” she said.
Polak said she’s heard from residents who thought they had a legally recognized name change, only to find out that wasn't the case upon applying for a B.C. Services card. While those issues can be dealt with as a one-off, Polak said she thinks the rules need to change.
“It bothers me when there are simple things we can do to make people’s lives easier and we just don’t do it,” she said.
B.C.'s Minister of Health said the issue had already been dealt with – in part – last year.
“I certainly agree with the sentiment of what my colleague in the legislature, Mary Polak, is trying to do, and I'm happy to meet with her to show her what we've done," said Health Minister Adrian Dix.
Dix said it’s now significantly easier to change to a hyphenated name on a driver’s license and B.C. Services card. He added the changes went into effect in 2018 and were made without changing the Name Act.
Polak said recent changes weren’t broad enough to address all the issues her proposed legislation would.