It could take 2 more months to resolve issues with new SAAQ online portal

Long lines outside SAAQ offices have become a common sight around Quebec.  (Hadi Hassin/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Long lines outside SAAQ offices have become a common sight around Quebec. (Hadi Hassin/Radio-Canada - image credit)

The rollout of a new online customer service portal for Quebec's auto insurance board has been marred by hiccups, forcing hundreds to line up in the cold to get help in person.

And it could take two months for the situation to be fully resolved.

"This could go until end of April," said Denis Marsolais, the president of the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), during an interview with Radio-Canada.

"This week, I'll admit, it has been difficult from a technical perspective."

The new online portal, which is called SAAQclic, is meant to allow drivers to replace their licences, get their vehicle registration documents or access their files without having to call or go to an SAAQ service outlet.

The SAAQ says implementing the new system is the equivalent of replacing 300 old systems that are 40 years old with a new one that now contains billions of pieces of information.

Preparations for SAAQclic which was launched on Feb. 20, prompted the board to scale back services for several weeks.

Since its launch, many users have had difficulty accessing the portal.

To set up an online account, you need to go through an authentication system that requires you to type in your social insurance number, health insurance card number, driver's licence number and a Revenu Québec reference number.

Daunted by all that, a lot of people just end up heading to a service outlet, which has led to long lineups outside offices in and around Montreal and in the Gatineau region.

"Going through the authentication centre, it takes four identifiers, and some people find that complicating," Marsolais told Radio-Canada. "We're going to simplify that."

Érik Chouinard/Radio-Canada
Érik Chouinard/Radio-Canada

SAAQ to extend business hours, help people sign up

According to Marsolais, the long lineups are due to people showing up to service outlets without having booked an appointment.

He said people who book appointments are served within 30 minutes.

The SAAQ plans to extend business hours in order to assist more customers at some outlets

"We're asking outlets to open on weekends and a little later in the evening, if possible," said David Leclerc, the SAAQ's vice-president of marketing strategies.

Leclerc also says people who show up to service outlets during the week of March 13 with requests that could've been handled online will be shown how to log on.

On Twitter, the province's transport minister said she is in touch with the automobile insurance board and is monitoring the situation closely.