No Demand For Saturday Service BC Openings
Prince George, B.C. – The provincial government’s experiment on Saturday openings of Service BC offices has found that there is little public demand for such service. However, weekday office hours are being expanded by thirty minutes in a handful of communities, including Prince George.
Following consultation with the public and with public servants around the province in November, 2015, it was determined that an extension of office hours could prove beneficial to people, such as school students, who would better be able to access government services if counter service was available on the weekend.
The Service BC office in the Plaza 400 building was selected for a six-month pilot project on Saturday openings under the auspices of the Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services ministry in conjunction with the Ministry of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. The trial Saturday openings began on Jan. 9th, 2016 following discussion and agreement on a work schedule with the BC Government and Service Employees Union. The Vernon and Maple Ridge offices were included in the project, but the office here was the only one selected for the Saturday model.
The plan was to reassess the project at the three and six-month marks and then come to a decision on expanding it to other Service BC offices or limiting it to the three locations.
A spokesperson with the Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services says in an email to 250 News, “with respect to service on Saturday, the final analysis concluded that most citizens who accessed service during the pilot did so from Monday to Friday.” The spokesperson adds, “based on the pilot project the extension of Monday to Friday hours is what most people were interested in.”
As a result of a “successful pilot project, Service BC front line counter services will be expanded by a half-hour Monday to Friday in Prince George, Vernon, Chilliwack, Maple Ridge and Courtenay.” Office hours will be 8:30 am to 5 pm each weekday.
The spokesperson says the last Saturday opening was on September 24th, and the permanent extended hours went into effect on October 14th, although the Service BC web site still has the Chilliwack and Courtenay office hours listed as 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
The ministry spokesperson also says “there were no additional costs of running the (pilot) project. One of the objectives was to make sure that they could actually try this out without incurring additional cost.”