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Geoff Agombar
Local Journalism Initiative

Fourteen regional offices of Services Québec will close for good by Nov. 8, including four in the Eastern Townships.

Stanstead, Bedford, Lac-Brome, and Cookshire-Eaton will all lose their local Services Québec office. Residents can continue to use phone or online services, or travel to another office in their region. To access in person services, they may have to travel as much 35 km away from their former local branch.

A Nov. 3 statement by the Syndicat de la Fonction Publique du Québec (SFPQ) regional president Franck di Scala denounces this round of closures, “These offices serve a population that is sometimes poorer and does not have access to transportation. These same people are sometimes unable to use online services and therefore require personalized support close to where they live. Moving to offices farther from these people will not bring them closer to a service offered by public service employees."

Due to proximity to municipal elections, Stanstead communications coordinator Rachel Burnham was unable to offer comment until next week.

Outgoing Cookshire-Eaton mayor and candidate for re-election in Sunday’s elections, Sylvie Lapointe reacted saying, “It is certainly unfortunate but, in our case, East Angus is only 6 km from Cookshire-Eaton. At least those services are staying within the MRC Haut-Saint-François.”

Outgoing Bedford mayor Yves Lévesque, not running for re-election, spoke to L’Avenir & Des Rivières saying, “This announcement did not really surprise me, because there was very little traffic at the office on Adhémar-Cusson Street.” He further noted that the Bedford office had been closed to the public due to pandemic measures from mid-April 2020 until closing definitively on Oct. 30, 2021.

The French side of the Services Québec’s webpage describes itself as a gateway that unites the services of 30 organizations. Those services include employment assistance, social assistance, business assistance, self-service computer stations, assistance with administrative procedures, civil status documents (certificates and copies), swearing in, and general information about programs and services.

A particularly useful link points to a tool that confirms which offices in your area offer a service you seek. But that link is hidden from visitors to the English version of the page, because the translation skips that paragraph.

The SFPQ, an independent union representing 40,000 members, sees a connection to broader trends. “Regional offices of the Conseil du statut de la femme and the Ministère de l’Éducation have closed. Those still open are struggling to provide services. The Tribunal administratif du logement closes its doors for several days a month in some cities due to lack of staff. Revenu Québec, CNESST and SAAQ are gradually reducing the services available at the counter. As for social assistance, the most disadvantaged people no longer receive services at local employment centers and must turn to call centers or online services," di Scala added.

“It’s nonsense,” declares di Scala. “We cannot promise better services in the regions on the one hand, and on the other hand force the population to travel more to obtain these services.”

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Closed Offices

Stanstead Services Québec Office

Closed as of Nov. 8, 2021
Redirected to 1700, rue Sherbrooke, bureau 100, Magog
Distance: 35 km from former office

Bedford Services Québec Office
Closed Oct. 30, 2021
Redirected to: 406, rue du Sud, 2e étage, Cowansville

Distance: 26 km from former office

Lac-Brome Services Québec Office

Closed as of Nov. 8, 2021
Redirected to 406, rue du Sud, 2e étage, Cowansville

Distance: 13 km from former office

Cookshire-Eaton Services Québec

Closed as of Nov. 8, 2021
Redirected to 120, rue Angus Nord, bureau 02, East Angus
Distance: 10 km from former office

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