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Licences and other renewals to be digitized (September 07, 2001)

QUEEN'S PARK, Ont. -- Ontario has inked a deal with a Bell Canada-led group of companies that will see a host of pu...

QUEEN’S PARK, Ont. — Ontario has inked a deal with a Bell Canada-led group of companies that will see a host of public services delivered electronically.

Beginning in late 2002, Ontarians will have constant access to 24 government services either through the Internet, interactive phones or at 300 multi-media kiosks, to be set up in airports, shopping centres and highway rest stops.

“Anytime-anywhere access is what people of Ontario want,” says Norm Sterling, consumer and business services minister. Sterling’s ministry will join transportation, health and natural resources in rolling out the new system.

The 24 targeted services are simple ones, including updating health cards and vehicle registrations. The integrated nature of the scheme will mean a user signing on to change an address with the ministry of transportation, for example, the person’s files in the three other participating ministries will also be updated.

“If you ask for a change of address, you are asking at 10 different ministries and 10 different people are filing different forms,” says Sterling. “The government pays for all of those costs, but now it’s just paying one company.”

Bell Canada will work with a consortium of BCE Emergis, CGI and KPMG Consulting to provide the technology and infrastructure. In return, the consortium will be paid anywhere from $60 million to $90 million, explains Terry Mosey, president of Bell Ontario.

“We’ll be paid based on the number of transaction fees that occur,” says Mosey.

The plot does come with inherent concerns over privacy, since it will involve transferring private information electronically. But Martin McGrath, senior vice-president of KPMG, which will handle the privacy component, insists precautions will be taken.

Encryption codes will be used to send information. Users will also have to provide a personal identification number — Ontarians will eventually have one of these numbers.

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