Yesterday, the provincial government announced it will be pushing popular programs online and shutting down offices in a move to make services more accessible and cash in on sold properties. Ontario currently has a multibillion-dollar deficit, which it hopes this decision will positively impact, the province’s treasury board said Wednesday.
Programs affected include health card and driver’s license renewals and license plate sticker purchases.
During a speech in downtown Toronto, MPP Peter Bethlenfalvy unveiled the “Smart Initiative” strategy, which aims to build a modern system that’s also good for the province financially.
“For decades the process and procedures of government have been operating largely unchanged and unchallenged,” Bethlenfalvy said. “As businesses have modernized, updated and innovated, the business of government has lagged behind.”
At present, only 30 per cent of ServiceOntario’s business is conducted online, so these changes will not only make people’s lives easier but also save the government time and money.
Currently, the government is seeing which land holdings and office spaces it owns where services can be decreased or the property can be sold altogether. Properties owned by hospitals, school boards and post-secondary institutions could also be affected by this plan. Overall, this shift is part of a concerted effort by the province to consolidate transfer payments to social service agencies. In turn, this will simplify the funding system.
No explicit details have been released about when these changes will come into effect have been released.