ServiceOntario savings come from government no longer paying leasing costs: minister

By Richard Southern, John Marchesan

The Ford government says the purported cost savings from moving nine ServiceOntario locations into Staples Canada stores comes from the government no longer paying leasing costs for independent owners whose businesses were shut down.

The government continued to reiterate the potential cost savings of $900,000 over three years after a copy of the business case was obtained by Global News. The government did not respond to repeated requests from CityNews 680 to share the business case for the ServiceOntario changes.

“The specific savings over three years is with respect to the leasing costs because the leasing costs were paid for at the nine expiring locations …they were reimbursed for the leasing costs,” Todd McCarthy, the Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery, tells CityNews 680 in a one-on-one interview.

However, the former ServiceOntario owners tell CityNews 680 that at no point did the government ever pay any of their leasing or rental costs. Klaudia Savona says that statement is abjectly false, adding they never received any money for rent. They were paid only a per transaction fee and got nothing specifically for store, renovations, or leasing costs.

McCarthy was once again asked why the Staples Canada deal was sole-sourced.

“With a pilot project, this is typical of the type of contract you enter into, but it did follow a market-sounding exercise involving 12 retail partnerships,” said the minister. He did not reveal how much money Walmart is receiving for hosting two ServiceOntario locations, something CityNews previously reported.

“Right now we’re looking at other partnerships, all kinds of partnerships, including retail partnerships,” McCarthy added. “So far, only Staples Canada met the service excellence, community presence, cost-effectiveness, scalability, strict requirements of the Ontario public service procurement model.”

Ontario NDP leader Marit Stiles questioned whether the minister “is being truthful with the people of Ontario,” while Green Party leader Mike Schreiner says he’s going to trust what local operators are saying over the minister.

“Quite frankly I think it’s outrageous,” said Schreiner. “The taxpayers in this province are paying almost $2 million for US-based big box store to renovate its stores.”

Listen to the entire interview with Minister Todd McCarthy

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today