Quebec City, Quebec — The Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) has been in the grips of a crisis following the provincial insurance board’s digital transition on Feb. 20, 2023.
SAAQClic was supposed to move most transactions online, like renewing licenses or paying for driving exams. The transition has not been as smooth as planned, resulting in hours-long wait times and frustration from Quebecers.
According to SAAQ, the implementation of the new system is equivalent to replacing 300 old systems that are 40 years old with a new platform that houses billions of pieces of information. The SAAQ had used the same technology since its inauguration in 1978.
The initial launch of SAAQClic was met with “instability,” said a spokesperson for the board, which resulted in an hours-long system crash.
SAAQ shut down services in preparation for the portal launch, which created a backlog of more than 400,000 transactions, it wrote in a press release. The SAAQ processes more than 25 million transactions annually.
The circumstances prove dire for those who rely on permits for work. Self-employed trucker Richard Pellerin told iHeartRadio that he will be forced to park his rig if he doesn’t receive renewed registration by March 31.
“This issue…is specific for our industry,” explained Pellerin. “The registrations…expire on March 31 for all of us.”
Last week, the SAAQ hired 150 additional employees to SAAQ branches experiencing high traffic, while fifteen extra employees were assigned to support phone lines. The organization says it is prioritizing renewals for those who require permits to work, like taxi drivers and truck operators, but it could take months to clear the rest of the backlogs.
“This could go until [the] end of April,” said Denis Marsolais, president of SAAQ, during a Radio-Canada interview.