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Crisis at the SAAQ | Quebec will grant a reprieve to affected motorists



The Legault government will grant a reprieve to motorists directly affected by computer failures at the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) in the hope of calming the discontent vis-à-vis the state-owned company.

This was confirmed by the office of the Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, back from Paris a day earlier, after the publication of an article by the QMI Agency on this subject in the evening.

Thus, citizens whose driving licenses will expire between March 9 and March 1er June 2023 will have an additional 90 days from their anniversary date to pay their renewal fees.

The validity period of temporary registration certificates issued between March 9 and April 8 will also be increased from 10 to 60 days. Then, from Thursday, the validity of foreign driving licenses will be maintained until August 29, to allow their holders to apply for a license here.

A more detailed press release is to be published on Wednesday, the day after Minister Geneviève Guilbault’s hasty return from a trip to Europe that began on 1er March with the aim of documenting public transport funding mechanisms, particularly in Paris.

Long queues made up of angry customers frustrated by the difficulties experienced on the SAAQ’s new digital platform, SAAQclic, were again observed in front of branches in several regions of Quebec on Tuesday.


Queue Tuesday morning in front of the SAAQ offices on Henri-Bourassa Boulevard, in Montreal

This platform was to allow customers to carry out most transactions online. However, since its launch on February 20, 103,000 Quebecers have managed to use it among the 335,000 customers served.

The SAAQ says it will take stock of the situation later, this Wednesday.

Still struggling online

Faced with these difficulties, many motorists have turned to the offices of the SAAQ in the hope of meeting an attendant.

But it was always difficult to make an appointment there in order to avoid the long lines, was able to see The Press. For example, no time slot was offered at the branch on Langelier Boulevard, an important service point in the east of the island of Montreal.

At Henri-Bourassa Boulevard, another very busy address of the Crown corporation, the earliest possible meeting was April 20, according to what its website showed around 5 p.m. Same thing in Longueuil, where the earliest date was April 11.

On vacation in the midst of a crisis

What’s more, the SAAQ confirmed on Tuesday that the vacations taken by its employees as part of the school break, which takes place last week in the Montreal region and this week in the Quebec City region, had been authorized.

“It’s not all about one person,” said SAAQ spokesperson Anne Marie Dussault Turcotte. […] We make sure we have the right people to take over the interim for people on vacation and the teams are at work to carry out all the tasks. »

Relaunched to know how many of its employees were on vacation at the moment and if, in this context, the launch of its new platform should not have been postponed, the SAAQ did not immediately respond.

Recall that, earlier this week, the union representing 2,200 SAAQ employees argued that management had been warned by employees that the digital transition should be more “gradual”.

Additional resources

On Sunday, the SAAQ announced that 150 workers from other sectors would be reassigned to welcoming customers and helping with online registration. Retired employees could also be involved. They were to receive “accelerated” training on Monday in order to be in post from March 13. Seven service centers should receive these new resources.

Depending on the number of visitors, the opening hours have also been brought forward in the morning and extended at the end of the day, in the busiest centres. Services are offered by appointment on weekends.

Remember that a daily reception capacity of each service center has also been published since Monday on the SAAQ site, which is also planning to set up heated shelters in certain branches for people waiting outside, in particular at the center. Henri Bourassa. Self-service digital kiosks have also been added at certain points of service.


Queue Tuesday morning in front of the SAAQ offices on Henri-Bourassa Boulevard, in Montreal

“I hope that with the measures […] the situation will be resolved,” Guilbault on Sunday. “What we have seen recently in SAAQ branches is unacceptable. […] The management is also aware that the situation no longer holds, ”she insisted.

The SAAQ also launched a “phishing alert” on Tuesday in the face of cases of fraud linked to the crisis, which have been increasing in recent days. “The closure of our branches from January 26 to February 20 has affected many motorists in Quebec. As an apology, we are giving you a credit. Answer YES to get it “, is it in particular written in a text message which circulates more and more.

Who designed the computer system?

The design contract for the new SAAQClic platform was signed with the Alliance Société conseil group LGS and SAP Canada Inc. The latter is also behind the design of the Phénix payroll system for federal government employees, which had caused a lot of ink to flow because of delays and other technical problems. However, the SAAQ claims to have mainly worked with the LGS Alliance to “design, develop and deploy digital transformation”, as well as employee training. The total cost of the contract was 458.4 million, including the digital transformation of activities already commissioned in 2019 in terms of human resources and finance. “What has been delivered since February 20 are all the operations that support the permit and registration in addition to roadside control activities,” explained spokesperson Geneviève Côté.

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