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October 28, 2017 12:38 am

Service BC Pilot Project Touted by Ministers

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 @ 5:51 PM
Government ministers Coralee Oakes (l) and Shirley Bond with Service BC Area Manager Jakob Vogt.  Photo 250News

Government ministers Coralee Oakes (l) and Shirley Bond with Service BC Area Manager Jakob Vogt. Photo 250News

Prince George, B.C. – The provincial government’s six-month pilot project on Saturday openings of Service BC offices has had a 45% utilization rate during the first two openings of its Prince George office.

A total of 23 customers had appointments or walked into the office the first Saturday followed by 28 last Saturday.  The maximum number of appointments per day, or capacity, is currently set at 48 although that is always being assessed depending upon demand.

Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction Coralee Oakes joined Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and the Minister Responsible for Labour Shirley Bond at the local office Wednesday to discuss the roll-out of the pilot project.  Noting this is Red Tape Awareness week, Oakes says “our premier and our government are very committed to looking at how we can reduce red tape.”

“We went out through the month of November and did massive consultation throughout British Columbia.  We met with public servants, the people on the ground that have experience of directly working closely with citizens, and we heard from them what are the nuances and frustrations in their everyday life.  One of the things we heard was that it would be great if we could see how we could extend some hours in our Service BC sites.”

“For example,” says Oakes, “we all have kids that have gone in to get a driver’s licence, right?  Does the time work for our kids, do they have to get out of school, and things like that?  So really this whole process is about building partnerships as government, being very cost-effective (because) we have to find ways to work within our means, but it’s about reducing red tape and frustrations for citizens.”

The Area Service Manager for Service BC, Jakob Vogt, notes that the heaviest use of the Prince George office the past two Saturdays has been students coming in to get their driver’s licence.  He says it works perfectly because they don’t have to take time off school during the week.

Bond says that Vernon and Maple Ridge are also taking part in the pilot project “but Prince George was the only one chose for the Saturday model and we’re seeing some really good numbers already.  People are responding really well.”

Vogt says the weekend openings proceeded following discussion with the BC Government and Service Employees Union.  “It was actually a really good negotiation and talk with them and we were able to work out a schedule that not only helps citizens but also helps the staff have that work/life balance.”

“Currently some staff have a modified work week and other staff are on an on-call basis, so that’s how we were able to make it successful.”  He says there is no added cost involved in having the office staffed with three unionized workers and a manager on Saturdays.  He has a pool of eleven staff members but adds   not all of them are available to work Saturdays.

Bond says this project “is about both the employee and the community because there needed to be a really important discussion about how to make it work, because it does change the work lives of the employees as well.  So I think the fact that we have a number of employees who have agreed to have a modified work plan works.  We couldn’t do this without them.”

Vogt says the pilot project will be reassessed at the three-month and six-month marks “to see what the uptake is and at that time a decision will be made to either expand it into more Service BC offices or keep it in the three, it’ll just depend on user uptake.”

Those wishing to go into the office on a Saturday must make an appointment, either at the office Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm or by phone at 250-565-4488.

Oakes says “we want these pilots to be successful so that we can implement these types of changes across British Columbia.”  Asked whether the pilot project at Service BC might be a precursor to Saturday openings of other government services and departments Oakes says “there’s some best practices that are happening in ministries all across government and how can we take what’s working in one ministry and apply that to other ministries?  It’s not always about adding additional resources, it’s about refining what we’re doing.  We’ve got such great public servants working for us, they’re so innovative, they’re creative and we’re listening to how we can engage and take their ideas and implement them.”

Bond says “I think the private sector typically responds much more quickly to the demands of their customers and clients and I think this is an example where the government is saying, working respectfully within contract and discussing that with our unions and our employees, are there ways to be more responsive to the public?  And this is a good way of doing it.”

“I’m really glad that’s it’s Prince George, that we have a leader that’s been able to work with his team and I think it’s an important step, it’s a test.  Can government be more responsive, respecting contracts, working with employees, and I think we’re seeing some good signs here.”

Asked her thoughts on the weekend model expanding in the government Bond says “we’re in the very early stages of a pilot, but it took a lot of discussion to open liquor stores on additional days and hours so we’re very mindful and respectful of union relationships, we understand how important those are and I think this is just a way to look at incremental improvement to service to the public and we can’t do it without the partnership with unions and our employees.”

“Who knows where this will go?  It could well be the beginning of other processes but of course we’re just going to concentrate on this one and make it a great success.”   


User uptake?
Pow! Thud! Wham!
The preceding illustrated the results of Batguy, defending the english language as we knew it.

Bond and Oakes are gonna need an arm massage, they patted a lot of backs in this story, BCGEU people and their own of course.

P.S. Saturday opening of Government Agent is good. Progressive even.


Maybe we can start to get the sitting MLA’s to start coming in on Saturdays to utilize the 45% percent of the time they are there

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