Walmart retrofit plans using tax dollars for ServiceOntario kiosks criticized

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Published January 16, 2024 at 12:33 pm

A plan to possibly retrofit two Walmart stores for ServiceOntario kiosks is being criticized.

The NDP Party, Ontario Liberals and Green Party are speaking out against the Ford government’s plan to use taxpayer money to retrofit Staples and Walmart locations chosen for ServiceOntario relocations.

Although the plan to put ServiceOntario into some Staples locations has been confirmed, the Ontario government hasn’t yet announced a plan to retrofit Walmart stores.

When asked about Walmart, a Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery spokesperson told insauga.com that no new agreements have been finalized.

“We are always looking for ways to deliver better, more convenient service to people across Ontario. As we do, we’ll continue to engage with partners who can help us deliver on this commitment,” the spokesperson said in an email.

The plan to replace 11 ServiceOntario centres with Staples and Walmart kiosks doesn’t sit well with Bonnie Crombie, the new leader of the Ontario Liberal Party.

“Once again, Doug Ford is catering to wealthy Conservative insiders instead of protecting the services Ontarians rely on,” Crombie said.

“The Premier needs to come clean and explain to Ontarians why they are footing the bill to retrofit multi-billion-dollar American businesses.”

Catherine Fife, NDP critic for Finance and Treasury Board, raised concerns about access to ServiceOntario locations.

“Closing down ServiceOntario locations without details of how many or how service demands will be managed, especially in Northern and rural parts of the province, is worrisome,” Fife said.

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The government needs to be upfront about taxpayers funding the retrofits at Staples, said Tom Rakocevic, NDP critic for Consumer Protection.

“It’s looking like Ford’s Conservatives handed a sole-sourced contract to a large American corporation, allowing them to profit off of delivering key government services,” said Rakocevic.

The Green Party also criticized the use of taxpayer money for store upgrades to Staples and Walmart for the ServiceOntario kiosks.

“Why are our tax dollars going to upgrading US-owned big box chains?” the Green Party said in a press release. “And why wasn’t this opportunity offered to independent, Ontario-owned businesses?”

Main photo: Google Maps

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