Ford government to pay for Staples retrofit as retailer looks to ‘monetize’ ServiceOntario

Sources say the Ford government is planning to use taxpayer dollars to retrofit the Staples Canada stores that are getting ServiceOntario outlets. Richard Southern has this CityNews exclusive report.

The Ford government is planning to use taxpayer dollars to retrofit the Staples Canada stores that are getting ServiceOntario outlets, sources tell CityNews.

The exact dollar amount is unclear, but multiple sources say the government will foot the bill for the necessary store upgrades to accommodate the kiosks, which are part of a pilot project first announced in December 2023 to “reduce the overall cost to deliver government services to the public.”

Neither the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery nor the Premier’s office responded to CityNews when asked about the cost. Staples Canada advised CityNews to contact the ministry on that question.

CityNews was the first to report that the government will close at least 11 ServiceOntario outlets, replacing each one with a kiosk inside a Staples Canada store.

The contract given to Staples was sole-sourced and not put to tender, meaning other companies could not openly bid on it.

A spokesperson within the Premier’s office said the government conducted lengthy consultations with retail partners and that Staples Canada was selected due to the size of its stores, parking availability, number of locations across Ontario, and willingness to participate.

“Staples Canada was selected as all locations met this criteria, and customers will be able to benefit from a 30 per cent improvement to current service accessibility hours.”

The opposition NDP is calling on the Ford government to come clean about giving an American company a sole-source contract and how that will help people in Ontario.

“Again, we’re seeing this government refuse to be transparent about their backroom deals. We’re seeing them hand over more of our government services to mega corporations, using taxpayer dollars to help a private company’s bottom line,” said Tom Rakocevic, the NDP critic for Consumer Protection.

Staples Canada has posted a job opening related to this, and one is for a Regional Services Manager-ServiceOntario.

The posting says the successful candidate will be responsible for “Monetization of ServiceOntario traffic” and will need to “Drive sales and profit results related to ServiceOntario traffic.”

Earlier this week, a statement from the Premier’s office stated that impacted ServiceOntario employees will be given a chance to continue employment with Staples Canada.

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