More than two weeks after public service employees returned to work, provincial government offices still are trying to cope with the backlog caused by the almost two-month long strike.
“We are working our way through the backlog of work accumulated in the duration of the strike,” said probation and parole area manager Brian Angus.
“We’re making progress on it. Our services are resuming normal levels of service to clients and the community,” he added.
Everyone from probation and parole officers to Ministry of Natural Resources fire crews and driver examiners were involved in the strike by 45,000 members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.
Since only essential services were provided during the strike, employees found a mountain of paperwork when they returned to the office May 6.
Angus said his staff has focused on high-risk individuals over the last few weeks, but also are trying to get caught up on things such as court reports.
“[The strike] certainly was disruptive and it does take a while to go back to a normal workload, but we are proceeding along and I’m optimistic by June we are going to be caught up,” he said, adding that it was good to be back at work.
MNR district manager Bill Darby said his staff also is coping with a mountain of paperwork.
“When we returned to work, we focused on those things that affected business viability and legal requirements first,” he said.
“Everything is back right now. We still need to prioritize needs, of course,” he added. “I think we’re progressing very well catching up on the backlog.”
Some things, such as the deadline for moose tag draw applications, had to be extended. Hunters now have until June 14 to submit applications for the annual draw.
As well, Darby said a fishing workshop planned for April will have to wait until this fall.
“I think by the end of the summer, by this fall, we should be back to normal,” he added.
Perhaps the biggest disruption to Ontarians during the strike had been the inability to get new driver’s licences and vehicle permits. The province extended licences that expired during the strike until Aug. 2 to prevent a flood of people coming in to have them renewed.
The Ministry of Transportation’s computer system, shut down during the strike, only was completely restored last Friday. And while they can issue licenses again, MTO spokesperson Bob Nicholas said it will take a while before everything is back to normal.
“We have to input data from private issuing offices that processed information manually during the strike,” he noted Friday. “We want to be sure that when we do transactions and licensing on vehicles that all the information is up to date.”
Used vehicle information packages needed in the private sale of a used car still are not available.
Nichols said people with questions about their licence and permits should call 1-800-268-4686 or contact their local diver and vehicle licence issuing office.