6 ServiceOntario locations opening in Staples stores this week

Six ServiceOntario centers will open in Staples Canada stores across the province by the end of the week.

Starting February 1, Ontario residents will be able to access government services in person at Staples Canada retail stores in Oakville, Strathroy, Newmarket, Scarborough, Tillsonburg and Welland.

The new centers are part of a three-year pilot program launched by Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government with the goal of improving customer service and increasing convenience.

Three additional centers will open later this year in Keswick, Hamilton and Toronto.

The announcement was officially made by Minister for Public and Business Service Delivery Todd McCarthy on Monday morning after weeks of speculation.

McCarthy said the idea of ​​private sector delivery as a model for public services is “more than a century old.”

“Staples Canada now joins three other successful retail partnerships: Canadian Tire, Home Hardware and IDA”

The government said the expiry of the contracts gave them the opportunity to “re-evaluate” ServiceOntario’s service delivery.

More than a dozen retailers participated in the selection process, the government said, and factors such as excellence in customer service, community presence, profitability and scalability were considered.

Last week, Ford said tthe pilot program with Staples Canada it would all be a matter of convenience. Government-run stores, Ford insisted, would not be touched in the process.

“Not everyone can enter one of the points of sale between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.,” he said.

“It’s pretty simple. “It all comes down to customer service.”

According to the sample hours of the new centers provided by the government, the new locations will open at 9 am and close between 7 pm and 9 pm from Monday to Friday.

On Saturdays they will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All nine new ServiceOntario locations will have extended hours of operation. (Ontario Government)

The move is part of a broader review of ServiceOntario centers in the province. The government has said the review will only affect privately operated centres, which make up about 71 per cent of ServiceOntario locations.

Publicly operated centers will not be affected.

Who is going to pay for it?

The government has said installing ServiceOntario kiosks inside Staples retail stores will save taxpayers about $900,000 over three years.

Under its business model, ServiceOntario will provide a one-time payment for all of Staples’ capital costs related to initial construction and installation, as well as covering labor costs and operating expenses.

Staples Canada will be responsible for co-design and construction of the centres, as well as leasing costs.

In total, the pilot project’s capital and operating costs will amount to about $10.2 million over three years. This includes modernizing ServiceOntario-branded retail stores; something McCarthy says is normal practice.

The cost differences are primarily due to leases, the government said, which are typically covered through a financing agreement with the province. Officials said they were able to negotiate with Staples Canada to reduce leasing costs to a cost-saving level.

The government was able to obtain the contract as an exclusive supplier because it was a pilot program and therefore they did not need to solicit bids.

The government has already opened a ServiceOntario location in some municipal offices, as well as an Employment Ontario community center and a mobile location operating in the Robinson-Huron treaty area.

They are also exploring another pilot project to install ServiceOntario hubs in public libraries. No details or timeline have been provided regarding this program.

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