/Province to review Service Ontario closures 

Province to review Service Ontario closures 

By Chad Ingram

Published June 6 2016

It appears the Wynne government is reviewing a number ofService Ontario office closures planned for late 2016 and early 2017.

In early May the Times learned the province would closenine Service Ontario offices including ones in Minden Terrace Bay MiltonMorrisburg Embrun Kemptville Blind River Guelph and Mississauga.

The closure of the Minden office is scheduled for the end ofNovember.

According to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Governmentand Consumer Services factors including proximity to alternate locations costeffectiveness and operational logistics were among the factors considered indeciding which locations would be closed.

Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott called theplanned closure of the Minden facility another slap in the face to small-town Ontario by the urban-centricWynne government.

A petitionstarted by a Minden Hills resident protesting the closure on change.org hasgarnered more than 700 signatures and there has been similar blow-back in othercommunities where Service Ontario office closures are slated.

Accordingto the Elliot Lake Standard the manager of the chamber of commerce in BlindRiver called the planned closure of the Service Ontario office there“disastrous” and as of late May more than 1100 people had signed an onlinepetition protesting the closure of the office.

Hundreds ofresidents also signed an online petition protesting the closure of theKemptville office.

It wasannounced early this week that the government would undertake a review of theplanned closures.

“We take all customer concerns seriouslyand are committed to making the best decision possible” Anne-Marie Flanagan amedia relations officer with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Serviceswrote in an email to the paper. “It is important for us to take more time anddo a further review of this decision in order to ensure that we continue toprovide the best service for our customers while being fiscally responsible.”

“It’s not the complete victorywe’re seeking but this is a move in the right direction thanks to thetremendous response from the community in taking a strong stand against thisridiculous closure” said Scott in a release. “Minden has severalbusinesses including automobile dealerships that face increased costs andinconvenience to their customers if they lose direct access to a local ServiceOntario centre. Closing the centre would cause unnecessary hardship to familiesand seniors who do not have Internet access or transportation to attend aService Ontario location outside of the community.”

While asatellite Service Ontario site is located in Haliburton Village it does notoffer the full list of services available at the Minden location.

Bothlocations offer driver and vehicle services and issue health cards and Ontariophoto cards.

Theministry points out these services account for approximately 88 per cent oftransactions at the Minden office.

Fish andwildlife services comprise nine per cent of transactions at the Minden siteand the ministry points out are available online and at private issuers inMinden including Minden Bait and Tackle on Highway 35 and Canadian Tire onWater Street.

Otherservices offered at the Minden office include business registrations businesstaxes providing an onsite commissioner of oaths employment services landregistry services and the provision of landlord tenant board forms andapplications.

Accordingto the ministry this group of services comprises approximately three per centof transactions at the Minden office.

The nextclosest location to access these services is Bracebridge. They are alsoavailable online.

Scott hasstarted a petition on the matter copies of which can be found on her websitewww.lauriescottmpp.com under the "petitions" caption. The number for Scott’soffice is 705-324-6654.