(WINDSOR, ON) – First, the comments of Mr Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, on a Windsor Square news report of the non-operational ServiceOntario office in Belle River are most appreciated. However, I stand behind the report and my right to present news in a manner afforded my craft.
It is important for Mr Thomas to understand The Square, relative to this story, is the only news outlet to actually talk with the government to get its side of the story.
Mr Thomas criticizes the writer for characterizing the situation as “under control.” There is no reason to retract such a term considering the province is actively searching for a new operator and has gone as far as to set a target date for the office to be re-opened.
It is clear a process is in place.
I am fully aware of the concerns of Mr Thomas relative to the privatization of ServiceOntario offices. Nonetheless, I elected to focus on the human interest angle of the Town of Belle River being without a local office for its residents to access government related services such as driver’s licences.
For his reference, it is not the role of journalists to provide shopping lists of any organization’s services unless such is the focus of a story. In most cases, an example can suffice.
Thus, I do not believe I failed, “to mention the services it could not provide,” simply because I did not see that as part of the story, but another issue which could be a good subject for a follow-on report.
He should rest assured I evaluated the issue of privatization and concluded it is very comprehensive and should not overshadow the fact the town’s ServiceOntario office will be re-opened shortly.
I would welcome the views Mr Thomas has about privatization and anticipate he can shed light on how this privatization has been going.
He should know that a key reason for privatization is cost savings. As he may remember, the Globe and Mail, on June 17, 2012, reported about the then new concept of privatized service delivery affording the government considerable savings.
The Globe noted the, “… model for privatizing ServiceOntario is Teranet Inc., the province’s electronic land-registry system that generated $1-billion in cash for its coffers in 2010 under a licensing deal with a pension fund.”
One other issue, Mr Thomas is taking literally this figurative statement:
“After the government rescinded the closure of a number of Service Ontario (sic) offices across the province … the Ontario Public Service Employees Union organized the protest.”
Again I thank him for his concerns and assure him he is welcome to forward any information he may have on the issue of privatization of ServiceOntario offices, but should be cautioned, as was done with this story, I will seek the other side as well.