The provincial government is closingMinden's Service Ontario office.
Located in a provincially owned buildingalong Highway 35 the office where residents go for driver's licence andhealth card renewals licence plate stickers hunting and fishing licences anda number of other services will shut down at the end of November.
Anne-Marie Flanagan a spokesperson forOntario's government and customer service division told the paper the decisionto close the Minden location and others in the province followed a carefulanalysis.
“There's a number of factors that werecarefully considered” Flanagan said adding these factors included proximityto alternative locations cost effectiveness and operational logistics.
There is a Service Ontario location in HaliburtonVillage and Flanagan said the vast majority of services that are available inMinden are also available at the Haliburton location.
There are Service Ontario locations inBobcaygeon and Fenelon Falls as well.
There are two full-time employees – onepermanent and one on a contract – currently working at the Minden ServiceOntario office.
It is unclear at this time how thoseemployees will be affected by the closure.
“Right now the ministry is working closelywith OPSEU” Flanagan said adding the province was trying to avoid“involuntary job loss. We're quite optimistic we'll be able to mitigatethat.”
Along with the Minden location ServiceOntario offices in Guelph Mississauga Milton Terrance Bay EmbrunMorrisburg Blind River and Kemptville will also close.
The paper asked whether the provincialgovernment had any plans to sell the Highway 35 property housing the officebuilding which is also home to MNRF staff.
“I can't speak to that” Flanagan said.
Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP LaurieScott is calling the closure of the Minden office another slap in the face tosmall-town Ontario by the urban-centric Wynne government.
“Every time there's cuts . . . they attackour services in rural Ontario” Scott said stressing that many of the area'solder residents have mobility issues or lack transportation and that getting toHaliburton Village may be problematic for some. “We have a lot of seniors andthey have difficulty travelling.”
The MPP said she was disappointed thatmembers of the legislature were not informed of the decision to close a numberof Service Ontario locations.
“We're going to be asking 'Why didn't youlet us know?'” Scott said.