December 7, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Manitoba Hydro is closing 24 of its rural district offices in what it calls an effort to modernize operations.
Hydro said it will consolidate rural staff in southern Manitoba into customer service centres to improve customer service and reduce costs.
Under the plan 12 district offices will close by the end of March 2014 with 12 more office offices closing by March 2017.
Hydro says it has seen a steady decline in customer transactions at district offices by people making bill payments either online or by phone. Other customer services, such as applications for electrical permits, are now available the corporation's website.
"Manitobans are changing the way they do business with us. With fewer and fewer customers using local offices to make bill payments or access other services, the time was right for us to take the next steps in streamlining our district office model," said Scott Thomson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Manitoba Hydro in a statement on the corporation’s website.
The first closures will begin in January 2014 when customer service counters in the 24 affected district offices will close.
Hydro said it expects to reduce costs by approximately $2-million annually by March 2017. The Crown corporation will also avoid another $50 million in future costs associated with needed facility upgrades to the 24 affected offices. All employees based in district offices slated for closure will report to one of 16 existing rural customer service centres. There will be no layoffs.
Manitoba Hydro's rural customer service centres are located in Lac du Bonnet, Morden, Steinbach, Selkirk, Portage la Prairie, Ashern, Arborg, Dauphin, Neepawa, Swan River, Russell, Brandon, Virden, Killarney, The Pas and Thompson.
Hydro also said it’s continuing its review of district operations to reduce costs.
Here’s what offices will close and when:
Full Closure - March 2014
Full Closure - by March 2017