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ServiceOntario hours slashed in Northern Ontario

Thursday, January 31, 2013   by: SooToday.com Staff

NEWS RELEASE

ONTARIO PUBLIC SERVICE
EMPLOYEES UNION (OPSEU)

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Hours cut in half at northern ServiceOntario counters: OPSEU

TORONTO - More communities in Ontario's north will suffer a huge loss of service as a result of government cuts to ServiceOntario counters.

Starting in February, customer counters in Wawa, Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island, and Hearst will have their hours of operation slashed in half from 42.5 hours per week to 16, 22, and 25 hours respectively.

The counter in Rainy River had its weekly hours chopped from 42.5 to 16 last November.

The ServiceOntario counter in South Porcupine will close February 1.

Residents there will have to drive to Timmins for in-person service.

The five counters are among the 22 ServiceOntario sites labelled "low-volume" by the government, 21 of which are in the north.

All will see their hours reduced, possibly in the coming months, as full-time permanent employees retire.

The additional so-called "low-volume" sites are: Atikokan, Blind River, Chapleau, Cochrane, Espanola, Geraldton, Ignace, Iroquois Falls, Kapuskasing, Manitouwadge, Marathon, Moosonee, Nipigon, Rainy River, Red Lake, Sioux Lookout, Terrace Bay, as well as Stratford in southern Ontario.

The wave of service cuts started in November when four counters in Oshawa, Newmarket, Toronto and Chatham were closed.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is calling on incoming premier Kathleen Wynne to immediately review this government action and start putting priority to providing good service to all Ontarians, regardless of geography.

"Ontarians must use ServiceOntario to get birth certificates, driver's licences, health cards, and other government identification," Thomas said. "Just because these counters aren't as busy as those elsewhere in the province doesn't mean people should lose what is basically an essential service."

Thomas believes the service cuts are to make ServiceOntario appear more attractive for a private sector buyer since the government announced last February its intent to privatize a service which contributes $2.7 billion to government revenues.

Thomas also warns that the loss of government control and oversight will put the privacy of Ontarians' personal information at risk.

"As dedicated public sector workers, our members' only priority is to provide service and protect personal information," Thomas said. "What will happen when a private company takes over and 'making a profit' gets added to the list?"

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Comments
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Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. Keep discussions civil and on topic. Refrain from obscenity and don't post anything that your grandmother would be ashamed to read. Those who do not abide by these guidelines will have their membership revoked without notice. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
marlinfan 1/31/2013 5:18:04 PM Report

"Just because these counters aren't as busy as those elsewhere in the province doesn't mean people should lose what is basically an essential service."

You mean the operation should be open 8-5 Monday to Friday because I can't click the options on a website and I absolutely cannot plan around 3- 4 days opening between 10-3? Sorry, Service at any cost isn't an option any more.
northbound1 1/31/2013 5:57:41 PM Report

I don't care so much about the reduced hours as long as I can get what I needed online.
Tom_Bom 1/31/2013 6:16:23 PM Report

The reduced hours don't bother me very much as long as I can still get done whatever official business I need to get done.
DeeFlems 1/31/2013 7:15:39 PM Report

As far as I'm concerned this makes sense. Why would any business keep long hours when the business isn't there? Just cause it's a government "service" shouldn't make it any different. Most if not all of these services are available online anyways. I got my new license that way and didn't cost me anything...as opposed to having to pay when I would go into a Service Ontario office.
I'm In 1/31/2013 9:11:11 PM Report

Our Municipal government should do the same with the services it provides avoiding a municpal property tax increase this year. The Fed and Provincial government workers wages are frozen for the next two years or more. I see city buses are empty when not on peak hours, sidewalk snow cleaners cleaning sidewalks that people don't use and on and on and on.
BrendaW 1/31/2013 9:17:47 PM Report

Please remember there are those out there who can't afford internet so accessing online is not always an option. What about the communities that will loose services completely. Hypothetically just say you were a on a fixed income with no internet or vehicle. Most people in these circumstances have very lettle expendible income. Jobs are low enough in a lot of these areas. There are other options like providing travel grants to acquire manadatory governement identification or licensing.Put mail order back in place...keeping the govenment post office in business at least. After all this is not optional so why should having the services be? Also beware that you notice most sites are in Northern Ontario this is a common practice. Demographically we are the common choice always due to population spread.How about increasing jobs up North not reducing them...these people need to live too. Privatizion is a numbers game. Your books have to look good for people to buy. Anyone owning a business knows this, especially the government.

Sam C 1/31/2013 9:32:52 PM Report

Keeping in mind which offices are having their hours reduced -- these are rural communities. Many of people living in the outlying areas surrounding thee communities do not have reliable internet access, if any at all.

Having said that, however, paying staff to sit behind a counter all day to serve a handful of customers doesn't make sense. The reduction in hours allows service to continue and still save the government money.
Wobbler 2/1/2013 6:41:02 AM Report

The last words in the Ontario Fiberal's Platform for 2011-2015 says: "The choice on October 6 is clear: We could go off track and backwards, retreating from the challenges of a global economy.........
Or go forward, together.
That’s our way.
That’s the Ontario Way."

How is cutting hours or eliminating government sector jobs going forward? In my opinion Dalton McGuinty is "off track and going backwards"! His "Ontario Way" as far as I'm concerned is a bag full of putrid air and is definitely NOT "our way".
Me Myself an I 2/1/2013 9:29:51 AM Report

@DeeFlems what new license did you get online?
Wobbler 2/1/2013 10:04:56 AM Report

"The principal effect of ending a session by prorogation is to end business. All government bills that have not received Royal Assent prior to prorogation cease to exist; committee activity also ceases. Thus, no committee can sit after a prorogation."

So if Queen’s Park is not in session and no new bills or legislation can be introduced, then how did this stuff get passed? Did it have "Royal Assent" prior to shutting down parliament? This inquiring mind wants to know.
Justin Tetreault 2/1/2013 10:13:54 AM Report

This didn't require a bill. This is just an administrative decision by a government agency.
Wobbler 2/1/2013 10:30:53 AM Report

Thank you Justin.
speed7 8/17/2013 7:28:40 AM Report

ok but you all should realize what this really means?.....lousy careless unreliable sevice if you like that sort of thing? cutting corners does'nt necessarily mean good service free of mistakes.
Comments
13
Please sign in to post a response
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. Keep discussions civil and on topic. Refrain from obscenity and don't post anything that your grandmother would be ashamed to read. Those who do not abide by these guidelines will have their membership revoked without notice. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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