Ford government set to close some ServiceOntario locations, open kiosks instead

A ServiceOntario office is seen in Kingston, Ont., on March 23, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

The Ford government plans to close some ServiceOntario locations and move them to kiosks at stationery stores, a spokesperson for the premier has confirmed.

The move comes as part of a plan pitched by the province to “streamline” operations and deliver services in a “cost-effective way.”

A spokesperson for Ontario Premier Doug Ford said a pilot program to relocate some ServiceOntario locations to kiosks inside Staples stores comes after “lengthy” consultations.

ServiceOntario locations offer various provincial programs, including health cards, driving licences and licence plate renewals.

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The province has not released a list of which Service Ontario’s are likely to be closed and then moved. Factors considered when deciding on locations included the size of stores, parking and “willingness to participate,” the spokesperson said.

Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said the move would benefit big box retailers at the expense of smaller local businesses.

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“The Premier has some seriously misplaced priorities,” Schreiner said in a statement. “Instead of helping well-connected insiders profit off of public services, why not focus on delivering real solutions to the housing and affordability crises?”

The province said the move was designed to make Service Ontario more accessible and expand opening hours.

Staff currently working at locations that are set to close will be given the opportunity to work at the new kiosks, the province said.

“All ServiceOntario locations that are closing will have a new location open in select Staples Canada stores and service will remain uninterrupted,” the spokesperson said. “Employees of impacted private services providers are also being provided opportunities to continue employment with Staples Canada.”

Global News contacted Staples for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

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