ServiceOntario hit by complex computer problems

ServiceOntario’s information technology system bogged down early this week, leaving thousands of Ontarians waiting in line for hours at ServiceOntario offices.

ServiceOntario, which is responsible for delivery via Internet, telephone and automated kiosks of services such as health card registration, birth, marriage and death certificates, driver’s licenses and address changes, began experiencing technical difficulties on Tuesday.

“Our centres are experiencing Internet connectivity issues. We will provide an update once resolved. Sorry for the inconvenience,” ServiceOntario tweeted on Tuesday morning.

“Health Card transactions are slow or not processing because of connectivity issues. We’ll provide and update once resolved,” another tweet from the service said. Later, another tweet indicated that driver and vehicle services transactions have also bogged down.


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By Wednesday, however, ServiceOntario reported that its centres were once again operational.

The problem was blamed on “complex” computer issues by Jenna Mannone, spokesperson for Government Services Minister Harinder Takhar.

In an email to the newspaper the Toronto Star, she said the debit and credit payments were affected and employees also had difficulties confirming proof of insurance.

This is the latest technology problem to hit the service since five months ago when ServiceOntario announced it was permanently decommissioning its automated kiosks across the province.

The kiosks had become popular with many Ontarians looking for a quick way to carryout transactions such as license plate renewals and change of address requests. However, in June last year ServiceOntario shut down 72 such terminals after the Services Ministry was alerted to an organized attempt to get debit and credit card information from the machines.
By November of 2012, Takhar announced that the kiosk program was being shut down for good.
He said an internal analysis determined that it would not be worth it to harden the security of the machines and that it would save taxpayers about $6.3 million in one-time upgrading costs and another $2.2 million in annual maintenance costs to just shut down the machines.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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