Long lines to access Service Ontario offices during COVID-19 pandemic
OTTAWA -- Hundreds of people lined up in sweltering heat Wednesday morning for the chance to visit Service Ontario on Bank Street on one of the two days this week the office is open.
The Service Ontario office on Bank Street is operating with reduced hours during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the office only open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
On Wednesday morning, more than 100 people were lined up outside the Service Ontario office by 11 a.m., as the temperature hit 30C. Several people told CTV News Ottawa they had arrived before 7 a.m. to make sure they could speak with staff at Service Ontario on Wednesday.
Mary-Anne Lajoie arrived at Service Ontario just before 7 a.m., and there was already 25 to 30 people in line.
“I don’t understand why they are only open four hours a day.”
Lajoie just wants to transfer licence plates.
“They have a good system inside. They have people keeping the distance, sterilizing their hands. So why can’t they be open all day?”
Darryl Gray arrived at 10 a.m. to line up, after previously trying another Service Ontario location.
“I have been going since last month to try to get my vehicle plated properly and put on the road. And hopefully this is going to be.”
Many Service Ontario locations are privately run. Of those, 65 per cent are open. Among the publicly-run centres, 95 per cent are open.
The Ontario governmenthas extended the expiry dates on driver’s licences, health cards and licence plate stickers. You can renew driver’s licences, licence plate stickers and health cards online. Ontarians can also get or replace a birth certificate and acquire a marriage certificate online.
Service Ontario has implemented several restrictions to encourage physical distancing, including only two people inside at once, and only two staff members working at a time.
In a statement, a spokesman for Government and Consumer Services Minister Lisa Thompson said the government has urged Ontarians not to visit a Service Ontario location unless absolutely necessary.
"The vast majority of services do not require an in-person visit right now as they are either available online or have had their validation period extended," the statement said. "This validation period has been extended for health cards, drivers licences, and licence plate stickers, among others."
More than 40 of the most common transactions are available online, the statement added.
Service Ontario offices across Ottawa are operating on reduced hours. The office on Ogilvie Road is only open from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday to Friday. The office on Merivale Road is open from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday.
The Service Ontario office in Stittsville is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Service Ontario office at Ottawa City Hall is closed, because the city has closed offices in the building to the public.