This will sound very familiar to residents of North Grenville who remember the events of 2016 in Kemptville, when the Ontario (Liberal) Government announced that they were closing the local ServiceOntario office on the Kemptville Campus. Now, the Ontario (Conservative) Government has announced the closure of 11 ServiceOntario outlets across the Province, though thankfully, this does not include the Kemptville office.
However, the idea behind these latest closures is just as upsetting for residents of North Grenville, as taxpayers’ money will be used to subsidise those poor corporations, Staples and Walmart, who will be paid to have ServiceOntario kiosks in their stores in place of the full offices. The Ford Government explains the move by claiming that it will “reduce the overall cost to deliver government services to the public.”
Ontario taxes will be used to refit those stores to house the new kiosks in the two American-owned company’s buildings. The deal with Staples was a sole-sourced one, in other words, no tender was issued for potential locations; Staples got the deal without competition. Furthermore, the kiosks in the Staple box stores will be staffed by Staples employees, not the current staffers of the centres. Walmart’s two locations will retain the current workers. According to a report by CityNews, the owners of the ServiceOntario offices being closed were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements, and none of the workers will be given severance payments. The 11 centres to be closed are situated in Southern Ontario around the Toronto region.
This may come as an embarrassment to Steve Clark, M.P.P., who was so involved in the campaign to save the Kemptville OntarioService offices in 2016, when he strongly condemned the Liberals for doing what his own party is doing today. But that’s politics for you, I suppose.