TORONTO, Jan. 31, 2013 /CNW/ - More communities in Ontario's north will
suffer a huge loss of service as a result of government cuts to
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
Feb. 1. Residents there will have to drive to Timmins for in-person
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
"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
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?"
For further information:
Warren (Smokey) Thomas: 416-443-8888
Don Ford, OPSEU Communications: 416-448-7442