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Sep. 22, 2020 | Tuesday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: Poor service from Service Ontario
Letter

Dear editor:

"Service" Ontario is an oxymoron. If it was a private sector business relying on customer satisfaction it would have gone out of business years ago.

During a recent conversation with my brother, who shares the same birthday, he mentioned in passing that he had noticed that his car registration was about to expire and that he had not received notice of the upcoming expiry from the government department. 

I subsequently checked and discovered that I had the perfect trifecta of expiring government services, namely my health card (five years), driver's licence (five years) and car registration (two years). 

In checking government websites I found that the deadlines for renewals had been extended during the pandemic.  For most, that would be sufficient reassurance should they need health services or have an interaction with police while driving their cars. 

Unfortunately, from the perspective of an auto insurer it may not take the same view should an insured be involved in an accident since driving with an expired driver's licence and/or car registration could lead an insurer to argue that there had been breach of the insurance contract. 

There have been a few instances where insurers who had supposedly provided business interruption coverage for losses due to a pandemic have argued that they were not liable since this pandemic did not fall within the coverage. 

Not wishing to potentially go to court against my insurer, I decided to go to the Service Ontario office in Virgil to do the requisite renewals before the expiry date.

When the Service Ontario office was on Mary Street in Old Town service was generally good. Since its move to Virgil site, service can only be described as poor. 

With that in mind I decided to arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled opening time. Unlike in previous years where the lineup occurred indoors, during the pandemic people had to wait outdoors. Remember to bring an umbrella if rain is forecast. 

When I arrived I was eighth in line. The gentleman in front of me appeared to have problems standing for a long time so spent as much time as possible leaning on his car (consider bringing a lawn chair). 

By the time the office opened there were five people lined up behind me with all of us engaging in social distancing and some wearing masks even outdoors. 

Although there were two clerks on duty only one was serving customers.  The first customer took seven minutes, the second 18 minutes and the third a whopping 28 minutes. This was followed by the next taking 12 minutes, bringing the number served in the first 65 minutes to four. 

Another was served and then the first clerk stopped dealing with customers and the other clerk took over.  When the person in front of me was to head in they announced that I could also go in and the clerks were finally serving two people at once. 

When I left, the lineup was no shorter than when the office had opened. Woe be those who weren't served by 12:30 p.m. when both clerks were to take their lunch breaks.

One might argue that during a pandemic allowances must be made. Fair enough when one is referring to where to line up and the requirement to wear masks. However, alerting people of the upcoming expiry of their government service cards is not one of them since such notices should be computer-generated. Furthermore, the processing of the renewals on-site is the same, pandemic or no pandemic.

The Lake Report publishes many letters from those complaining about the high level of their taxes and that waste should be eliminated without identifying what services or programs should be eliminated. The adage that "You get what you pay for" applies even to that sorry enterprise, "Service" Ontario.

Ron Fritz

Queenston

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