A minor change to Quebec driver's licenses — the removal of a phone number listed on the back of the license – cost the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) a cool $80,000 earlier this year.
The change was listed on the Quebec government's public tender platform — where the government and other public agencies submit requests for contracts relating to public projects — as a "modification of the design of the driving license" on April 11, 2023.
This design modification struck one intrepid citizen (who asked MTL Blog to remain anonymous) as curious, so they filed an Access to Information Request. Such requests are allowed thanks to Canada's Access to Information Act, which permits people living in Canada to request records under Public Safety Canada's purview.
The citizen told MTL Blog that they "assum[ed] that, at the expense of $80,000, significant changes would have been done."
However, the SAAQ's reply to the Access to Information Request revealed that task was for a single phone number to be removed from the back of Quebec licenses.
"Though the SEAO mentions a modification to the permit on the seventh of April, this only consisted in removing a phone number from the reverse of the license," the SAAQ wrote, referring to the tender platform by its acronym, SEAO. "[...] Therefore, we have no design proposition file nor a final submission of the license's new visual design."
MTL Blog has reached out to the SAAQ for comment and will update this article upon receiving a response.
According to the response the citizen received from the SAAQ, a copy of which was reviewed by MTL Blog, the phone number was previously used to verify the validity of a driving permit. But the number was unable to be called by cell phones and also cost Quebecers money to use.
So, the organization spent approximately the average Quebec household's yearly income to remove the number, since the service it provided was both incredibly annoying and also made redundant by the SAAQ's website, which now provides the same service free of charge to anyone with internet access.
It's thus far unclear why the amount for such a minor change was so high, or why removing a single number required a contract in the first place.
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.