Getting information about services from the federal government currently involves a web-surf or a trip to Smithers or Vanderhoof, but a Service Canada representative was asked what it would take to get an office in Houston.
“Pressure your Member of Parliament,” advised Carole Morrison, Citizen Services Specialist, who gave a presentation in Houston to 12 local business owners and managers at a Chamber of Commerce meeting last Thursday.
“In Ottawa they have a series of criteria – it could be based on population, on the industries or on the need – and then they make a decision from there,” she said.
“It is possible that maybe one day we will have representation here and its just a matter of having our official make that decision,” Morrison said.
She says the more people who bring the request forward, the better the chances to get a Houston service centre.
“Every year we seem to open up those doors and provide outreach to different communities,” she said, adding that this year both 100 Mile House and Clinton got a Service Canada Centre.
Morrison says that in many communities without a service centre, they do service days once a month or a few times a year, where they come in and make themselves available for service.
On that day, anybody who needs information from Service Canada can stop by and get the information they need, she said.
“I can do something like that here as well,” she said, adding that she plans to come through Houston three times a year and will available for presentations.
Morrison said Service Canada offers a huge variety of programs and services involving pensions (CPP), employment insurance (EI) benefits, as well as things like finding a job, the job market, training and apprenticeships, getting a social insurance number or passport, applying for veteran services, and finding information about immigration and the Canada Revenue Agency.
They also have an online program, “My Service Canada Account,” where people can get personal information about their CPP contribution, EI claims, income tax returns, and calculations of a pension based on when they might retire.
For more information see servicecanada.gc.ca under “Services for you,” and for youth services see youth.gc.ca.