It’s all in the level of government you tackle. The Municipality of Toronto (Ontario, Canada) may have a questionable character as mayor, but their TTC consumer service is sure going great, and I suspect improving a lot since Andy Byford became the head honcho at TTC.
Not so Service Ontario and its “parent” ministry – the Ministry of Government Services. (I spit on that last word).
So, the baddie first.
Last Saturday was almost a repeat of the previous Saturday’s venture to the Service Ontario centre near my residence. That includes it was again raining, again I waited ages for a bus, and again a line-up inside the Service Ontario Centre, which again kept moving.
Finally I got to the head of the line and with a different counter clerk this time. I might as well have been dealing with a brick wall. This bitch did clarify that the paper certificate isn’t valid but also wouldn’t accept the laminated version because she said it didn’t have a registration number. Bitch No. 1 the previous Saturday said they accept laminated versions. I was so upset I said I’m a journalist and I’m not letting this one go and stormed out of the place.
It wasn’t until I got home and had another look at my laminated birth certificate card that I noticed –yup, it does have a registration number.
I went to work online and used my journalistic research skills. First I found more rules and regulations for obtaining an Ontario Photo ID card. The only reference to a laminated birth certificate card was in the footnotes to the tune of if your original birth certificate says that any laminated version is void, you can’t use the laminated version. Well my non-valid original birth certificate was issued decades before laminated versions came along.
Then Ms. Google came through with finding out which Ontario Ministry oversees this photo ID business. Found a complaint form and did a generic form of my story (no personal information was allowed except I put in I was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada – but so were a lot of others) and I did mention the actual Service Ontario Centre giving me grief.
They got back to me two days later by email. Are you sitting down? It gets more ridiculous. The reply clarified that my paper documents isn’t valid and why. Okay, I accept that. But for the laminated one they said that any issued after 1982 isn’t valid. (Mine was issued in 1970) and it is up to the individual Service Ontario clerk whether to accept the laminated version or not). Monty Python would be proud. For some reason their dead parrot skit is running through my mind.
My next step was to forward the response from the MGS (including my online form complaint to them) to my Ontario Member of Parliament with a few comments to start off the email and a request to help me get my Ontario Photo ID using my valid laminated birth certificate card. And I gave my phone number and times when I’m available in case the MPP prefers to phone me.
Next step will be the media.
Now the goodie – the TTC.
Yesterday morning I phoned the TTC Metropass department to find out how to get my adult pass changed to seniors effective next month when I officially become senior. The fellow said he could do it over the phone and after a few questions (like my birthdate, name, address), he said the seniors metropass would start from December and would be in the mail for then. Plus the lower amount will be deducted monthly from my bank account (I will save about $22.25 a month). Then he transferred me to the TTC photo ID department.
The lady answering the phone was polite and told me that I would only need my Ontario Health card for ID and that they were open to 7 p.m.
I showed up there around 6.20 p.m. yesterday and I couldn’t be more impressed. These young counter clerks, late teens to early 20s, need to be complimented publicly for their professionalism, concern, helpfulness and friendliness. Actually the guy standing by the short lineup (mostly students for their cards) was probably closer to earlier 30s, but he checked my Health Card and then I went to the first clerk behind the wicket. At first she said I was too early and to come back the last week in November (because I’d have the actual Dec. senior card received in the mail) but when I explained that I had called earlier in the day and wasn’t told this, she said she remembered speaking to me. She said to save me another trip, she would issue the card but I wasn’t to use it until Dec. 1. I agreed. That makes sense.
The poor guy who had to take my photo – three tries but that was me not standing in the right place. But he was friendly and helpful and the picture turned out okay – just a bit of glare on my glasses. My new photo ID card spewed out in one minute flat.
I was out of there in five minutes.
Service Ontario you need to take a page from the TTC.
I still need the Ontario photo ID as it is a substitute for those of us who don’t drive and have no driver’s licence. The TTC one doesn’t have an address on it and can’t be used cart blanche.
The battle against Service Ontario and I suppose MGS continues.
Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes