Union criticizes federal super-agency

Canada Employment and Immigration Union says Service Canada, which will provide passports, social insurance numbers and more, does a disservice to Canadians
By
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 09/29/2005

Canadians will soon be able to apply for a passport, a social insurance number and employment insurance all at a new one-stop government agency, Service Canada, but not everyone thinks the new, bigger agency is better.

The president of the Canada Employment and Immigration Union, which represents a large portion of the 22,000 employees who work for the new agency, called Service Canada the “Wal-Martization of federal public services.”

Jeannette Meunier-McKay said that while the new agency will increase the number of ways in which Canadians can access government services, the quality of service they receive will in fact be worse. She said staff will be instructed to point clients to a toll-free phone number or a computer for help, even if the staff could solve the problems immediately themselves.

This would reduce highly skilled front-line workers to little more than “greeters,” she said.

The Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Belinda Stronach, whose ministry officially launched the program on Sept. 14, said that the new service will help Canadians by putting all federal services under one umbrella, streamlining access and making it easier for people to find the services they’re looking for.

Some Service Canada offices are already up and running, but not all are offering full services yet. Canadians will eventually be able to access all government services by visiting one office, going to one website or calling one phone number.

By next year, there will be 600 offices across the country. Stronach said the new service will save the government about $3 billion over five years through greater efficiency and automation.

Service Canada will send mobile units to remote communities one or two days a week and they will also visit nursing homes, senior centres and shut-ins.

For more information about the new service, go

online

or call 1-800-O-Canada.

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