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Provincial savings offices to expand into Northern Ontario.

Provincial savings offices to expand into Northern Ontario

For the first time in almost 60 years, branches of the Province of Ontario Savings Office will be located in Northern Ontario.

Current plans call for the expansion of the provincial government agency into Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay over the next two years.

The Sudbury office is scheduled to take up residence on the first floor of the new Ministry of Northern Development and Mines building in October.

The Thunder Bay branch is expected to open next February and the Sault branch in January of 1992. Both of these branches will be housed in the provincial buildings being constructed as part of the province's relocation effort.

Glenn Martin, senior project analyst for the savings office, said the scheduled opening of the offices is still tentative, pending the outcome of the numerous strikes affecting construction projects.

"Right now we're assessing the impact of the strikes to determine if there's going to be a delay," he said. "It's made us a little nervous."

The provincial savings office - which is under the auspices of the Ministry of Revenue - was established through legislation in 1921. The first branch opened the following year. At its peak there were 26 branches open, five more than exist at the present time. Currently, branches are located in southern Ontario communities stretching from Windsor to the Ottawa Valley.

According to Martin, the savings office has approximately $1.7 billion (from about 100,000 accounts) on deposit.

The savings office offers chequing and savings plans, as well as guaranteed investment certificates. Martin pointed out the savings office does not offer loans.

"We're just trying to provide services for ordinary citizens," he said. "We're not trying to compete with banks and trust companies.

"We don't offer loans or have automated tellers."

Martin noted the savings office does guarantee "every dollar on deposit," which makes it more attractive than institutions which have a limit on liability arising from losses.

Aside from assisting "ordinary citizens," the savings office also helps the provincial government by lending it money at lower interest rates than are available through other institutions. The loaned money is usually put into the province's general revenue fund.

Each of the Northern Ontario branches will be initially manned by five people, including a manager, an administrative assistant and three tellers. Martin said the assistant and one teller position have been designated as bilingual.

With the opening of the Sudbury branch just a few months away, the savings office has already hired a manager for the branch. Sergio Fortunato is in the midst of a training program at the savings office's headquarters in Oshawa and at branches in southern Ontario.

The establishment of three Northern branches also lays the foundation of an even more ambitious expansion program.

A proposal to open a number of outlets of the provincial agency across the region is currently awaiting review by the provincial cabinet.

Since there has not been a decision on the proposal, neither Martin nor David Roote, director of communications for the Ministry of Revenue, was able to discuss specific details, such as the communities being targeted for the offices.

"It still has to be reviewed by the cabinet," Roote said. "There's no deadline for the decision, but we're hoping it will be in the near future.

"It's hard to estimate when cabinet is going to review anything."

If approved by cabinet, the agencies would be established in communities which do not have banking or trust companies. The offices would most likely be located in insurance offices or retail establishments and linked to one of the larger branches by computer.

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Title Annotation:Province of Ontario Savings Office
Author:Krejlgaard, Chris
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Jun 1, 1990
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