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Transport minister cuts Europe trip short amid SAAQ crisis

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Deputy Premier and Transport Minister Genevieve Guilbeault is cutting short a trip to Europe that began March 1 to return to Quebec to help resolve the customer service crisis that has rocked the province's auto insurance board (Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec - SAAQ).

The news of her return was confirmed Tuesday to The Canadian Press by Louis-Julien Dufresne, press secretary for Geneviève Guilbeault.

Last weekend, Guilbeault announced that as of Monday of this week, the SAAQ would get reinforcements to counter the heavy traffic at many branches caused by the failed transition of services to the online portal SAAQclic.

However, long queues of angry customers were still observed in front of branches in several regions of Quebec on Monday.

Lines remain outside of SAAQ offices in Quebec as the backlog caused by the auto insurance board's online transition caused many customers to be frustrated. (Matt Grillo/CTV News)

The minister also announced that, depending on the number of customers, opening hours would be expanded in the morning and extended at the end of the day and that services would be offered by appointment on weekends.

Some 150 additional employees were to be gradually assigned to SAAQ customer services starting Monday.

It is also possible for people who have to wait in line to consult the daily capacity of each service centre on the SAAQ website beforehand.

The SAAQ's digital platform was intended to allow customers to carry out most transactions online.

Since its launch on February 20, 103,000 Quebecers have successfully used it among the 335,000 clients served.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on March 7, 2023. 

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