‘They say they can do nothing’: Clients claim no changes in spite of SAAQ relief measures


As Quebec’s automobile insurance board (SAAQ) struggles with long lines and delays while it works to move transactions online, clients say nothing has changed in spite of its mitigation measures. Sabahttin Sabanci says he only needs a copy of his driving record this week in order to get hired for a new job.“They say they can do nothing. ‘You’re going to come on April 13th.’ I’m going to lose my job,” lamented Sabanci, who had been lining up for two hours at the Henri-Bourrassa outlet.The board says it has hired 150 extra employees that are being progressively deployed across its different outlets. It’s also extending opening hours, including weekends.“I just figured it was usual government inefficiency, I didn’t realize it was special government inefficiency,” said Brock Hanley, who was lining up to get his picture taken for his RAMQ card, set to expire in the next few days. Story continues below advertisement The SAAQ has been dealing with the aftermath of its so-called digital transformation.Clients were supposed to be able to do a wide range of transactions online.But many are still not able to. The system is bugging.Patrick Mathieu, a computer science expert, says the system the SAAQ is using is old and not the best choice for the needs of its clients. Trending Now Mathieu, the founder of online IT and hacking community Hackfest, adds that he was aware of issues with the system before it was deployed to the public because he was told by former employees.“Many people came to us and told the story from inside, from the consulting point of view or an employee point of view and they said the project should have at least taken another year to make it work OK,” Mathieu said. “The management never listened, they just want to deliver to show they were OK.”The union representing SAAQ workers confirms they warned their employer about the service not being ready and the lack of training but were ignored. Story continues below advertisement “They’re exhausted right now, there are people crying during their lunch break, people not taking their lunch break and dinner time also, to be able to answer all these citizens,” said Christian Daigle, president of the Syndicat de la fonction publique et parapublique du Québec (SFPQ).Daigle adds that pressure is mounting because there are many employees who are on spring break, which means fewer people to handle the workload.The union says the board should suspend some transactions, such as taking pictures to renew licences, and give clients a grace period in order to give the SAAQ a chance to catch up with the backlog it’s currently experiencing.Meanwhile, Mathieu says it could take years before the system is running smoothly and it will cost a lot of taxpayer money to fix it.The SAAQ was not available for comment on Monday. 2:01 SAAQ’s digital overhaul leads to headaches for Quebec drivers &copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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