ONTARIO – Government plans to close four ServiceOntario counters in Chatham, Newmarket, Oshawa and at 4400 Dufferin St. in Toronto are one more step in handing complete control of Ontarians’ identity privacy to for-profit corporations, says the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said that the risk of fraud, identify theft, and other privacy breaches will increase with the lack of government oversight and control.
“How many times do we have to prove that private corporations will put profits first and accountability second?” asked Thomas. “The government has already had to shut down privately-operated kiosks because of a security breach. Now McGuinty wants to hand the keys to the entire system to a company they can’t control or manage, no matter what safeguards they say they can put in place.”
Ontarians must use ServiceOntario to get birth certificates, driver’s licences, health cards, and other government identification. Birth certificates are the gateway to identity theft. The threat to privacy is even more serious if ServiceOntario goes to a U.S. company or its subsidiary.
“To say they’re selling off ServiceOntario to save money is nonsense,” says Thomas. “ServiceOntario supplies $2.7 billion annually to government revenues. McGuinty is holding a fire sale to fix a short-term revenue problem, and the buyer will reap profits for years to come. Any company familiar with the 407 and Ornge air ambulance will be lining up around the block. And the losers, once again, will be the people of Ontario.”
The four closures, which take place by end of day on November 23, will affect 37 jobs. In addition, a further 22 ServiceOntario counters in Stratford and Northern Ontario could also be at risk affecting 38 more positions.
“We already have experienced, reliable and trustworthy professionals doing this work, for a branch of the government that, like the LCBO, turns a huge profit for the government,” Thomas said. “It’s time McGuinty offered up some honest answers behind the sale of ServiceOntario, because every answer we’ve seen so far is illogical, short-sighted hogwash.”
Warren (Smokey) Thomas: 613-329-1931