Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Parking and extended opening hours; the responsible minister touts practical benefits for the population.

Service Ontario at Staple: the province defends its decision

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The facade of a ServiceOntario office

Radio-Canada

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The Ford government defends its decision to replace ServiceOntario offices with counters at the retailer Staples. The responsible minister confirms that Ontarians will be able to visit certain branches of the office supply chain to renew their driver's license or obtain a new health card, starting in early 2024.

The Minister of Public and Business Services, Todd McCarthy, believes that the population will benefit from the announced changes.

What these big retailers are offering are longer, more convenient, family-friendly opening hours, rather than the standard 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They also have a large parking lot, he said in an interview on the CBC morning show, Metro Morning.

In the greater Toronto area, points of service in Toronto, Newmarket and Mississauga will be eliminated.

Todd McCarthy wanted to be reassuring, specifying that the model of counters set up at private retailers already exists elsewhere and that the government is only rolling it out any further. Ontarians have already adopted [the model]. This is not new, we already have these retail partnerships, added Minister McCarthy.

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ServiceOntario Markham office in Unionville

Since 2010, ServiceOntario kiosks have been installed at Canadian Tire locations, Home Hardware stores and some I.D.A. pharmacies.

The government ensures that Ontarians find it convenient to be able to make purchases while renewing their official documents.

The announcement of transformations at ServiceOntario has raised concerns among opposition MPs at Queen's Park. The leader of the NDP, Marit Stiles, notably raised the lack of transparency in the awarding of a contract to Staples, a contract awarded without a call for tenders. She would also like the Prime Minister to offer explanations.

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How could the government award a contract to a sole supplier, a large American company?

A quote from Marit Stiles, NDP leader

Among the Greens, leader Mike Schreiner also wonders why independent businesses have not had the same chance. This is another demonstration of the backstage games that take place between the Prime Minister and his close associates.

The MPs opposition also question the quality of services in French that will be offered at these new counters.

The Ford government assures for its part that the reorganization of ServiceOntario will not be accompanied by any interruption of service. It is still unclear how many offices will close.

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