City of Toronto launches City services benefit card
The City of Toronto is implementing a new card technology, the first of its kind in Canada, to improve customer service and modernize City services. The City Services Benefit Card will replace manual cheques as the payment method for Toronto residents who receive Ontario Works assistance and do not have a bank account.
“This initiative is the first of its kind in Canada,” said Councillor Paul Ainslie (Ward 43 Scarborough East), Chair of the Government Management Committee. “It’s great to see this kind of customer service improvement for Toronto residents, and that we’re able to deliver better service while cutting costs for the City.
“The City Services Benefit Card is the most recent example of the City’s commitment to modernizing and transforming how services are delivered and how residents are supported in finding work. This is efficient government and customer service excellence and provides a foundation to build on.”
Moving from cheques to the card will result in cost savings for the City, as well as for clients who may have been paying expensive cheque-cashing fees.
“The introduction of the City Services Benefit Card will free up resources and allow Toronto Employment & Social Services (TESS) staff to focus on helping residents to find jobs,” said Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37 Scarborough Centre) as the new method of payment was unveiled today at the Golden Mile Employment & Social Services office in his ward.
In addition, the City Services Benefit Card will reduce stigma associated with receiving social assistance benefits and will empower residents with financial management tools, as well as reducing visits to TESS locations for cheque pickup.
Five TESS locations – Lesmill, Wellesley Place, Malvern, the Queensway and Yonge-Eglinton – started using the City Services Benefit Card today. Based on the results of this initial testing phase, the City Services Benefit Card will then be rolled out in the remaining 10 TESS offices.
This is the first such card in Canada to use chip and PIN technology. The card program for the City was supported by Government Management Committee, and approved by City Council in July 2011 (http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2011/gm/bgrd/backgroundfile-39104.pdf).
The City Services Benefit Card is a personalized, reloadable card that replaces the need to issue funds by cheque. It uses industry standard PIN and chip technology and works like a debit card but does not require a bank account. Cardholders will have four free withdrawals per month at specific ATM machines across the city, and can also use the card at ATMs, shops, grocery stores, gas stations and anywhere MasterCard® is accepted.
Cardholders can access services such as balance inquiries, transaction histories, an ATM locator and more online or by telephone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Multilingual customer care support is also available.
Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.7 million people. Toronto’s government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.