ServiceOntario gives you a birthday present: No waiting!

Well it happens to the best of us – a birthday. It comes around every year.  And that means it’s time to celebrate and — oh yeah! — renew your driver’s license and maybe your health card too.

But busy entrepreneurs don’t have time to sit for hours in ServiceOntario offices with hundreds of their fellow celebrants.  So what can you do about it?  Sign up online for an appointment! Public sector innovation!

My birthday is fast approaching and I got the notice to renew both my health card and driver’s licence but I also noticed something new on the renewal form: an invitation to apply online for an appointment.  OK, I’ll give it a try. It has to be better than sitting around forever in a ServiceOntario office.

Once completed, I received a notification via email that my appointment would be in a few days.  I left my office at MaRS at 9:20 am for a 9:30 am appointment at Bay and College and was greeted by a very full waiting room.

I went up to reception, received my number – C13 – and headed off to sit down.  C12 was on the display.  I’d barely settled down when my number came up and off I went to renew my health card and get my photo taken.

“Wow that was fast! But I also need by driver’s license renewed.  Anything you can do about that?”

“Sure thing, I’ll just put you back into the system, your number should be up in 2-5 minutes.”



So off I went to sit down again and, you guessed it, my number came up almost as soon as I sat down.  Once again, I met with the staff member behind the counter, got my picture taken, paid my $75 and was on my way out the door – stunned.

I was back at my desk at MaRS at 9:45 am.  My time in the ServiceOntario office was less than 15 minutes to get both services renewed.  The average wait-time, read the posted sign, was at least one hour.

Surely this is public service innovation at its best.  Surely this is something everyone should know about.

“Please tell your friends,” said the ServiceOntario staff member. “People are in a way better mood when they get to us if they have made an appointment.  Otherwise, not so much!”

So as you get the kids ready for back to school and launch into what is inevitably a very busy season, consider making an appointment online if it’s time to renew your health card and/or driver’s licence.  I know you have way better things to do than sit around and get into a bad mood.

Allyson Hewitt

Allyson is the JW McConnell Family Foundation Senior Fellow, Social Innovation at MaRS, where she has been leading the SiG@MaRS program; advising social entrepreneurs; building the social innovation ecosystem; and incubating successful programs such as the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing, the MaRS Solutions Lab and Studio Y. See more…