Improving services for Canadians

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Canadians have told us they want improvements to the services we deliver. We’re listening.

Here are some examples of how we are taking action.



We’re making it easier to find your benefits!

You may have seen the Benefits Finder on the Government of Canada’s website before. It’s an online tool that helps Canadians find federal, provincial and territorial benefits they may be eligible for.

Answer a few simple questions about where you live, your family and your employment situation and the Benefits Finder will present you with a list of benefits and services based on the answers.

We’re improving the Benefits Finder to make it easier to use, starting with making the tool more visible online. We’ve also added a feature that allows those using the application to share results via e-mail. As well, we will be introducing a feedback feature so we can keep tailoring our services to client preferences. Over time, more benefits will be added.

The benefits that ESDC provides are making a real difference in the lives of Canadians who are using them. One of our top priorities is for you to be aware of the benefits you are entitled to and to be able to access them where and when you want to.


Making virtual a reality: pilot program cuts wait times in Service Canada Centres

Most people anticipate lineups when they head to a Service Canada Centre (SCC). Imagine arriving and being greeted by a Citizen Service Officer (CSO) with the option to speak to someone sooner, virtually.

After a few minutes in the waiting area, there’s someone on the screen ready to help you, from another province or territory away.

After successful pilot projects in Fredericton, NB, and St. Leonard, QC, this Video Chat initiative may be a reality for you soon.

By giving you access to more people (in person and virtually), we can provide you with faster service without sacrificing quality.

This is just one of the service delivery solutions being developed as part of our Service Transformation Plan.

Those who have used it say there’s no real difference between the virtual and in-person service—and our online CSOs say they like chatting with people from across the country.

The next pilot is set for Winnipeg, MB, where we will explore and fine tune ways to improve your service experience.


Expansion initiative makes it easier to apply for and renew your passport

We’re making it easier than ever before to apply for or renew your passport, by nearly doubling the number of Service Canada Centres across the country offering passport services.

For many Canadians, these centres have been a long car ride away. By expanding passport services to more centres, over 97 percent of Canadians now have convenient access to apply for or renew a passport within a 100 km distance of their home.

Canadians are now able to submit their applications and have their citizenship documents, like birth certificates and certificates of citizenship, validated and returned to them while they are in the office. These centres will also assist people with their standard passport application by reviewing it on site, accepting payment and forwarding it to processing.

"Canadians want better, faster and more accessible services from their government,” says The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, “By leveraging Service Canada's nationwide service delivery network, the Government of Canada is making passport services more convenient for Canadians.”

New “DAISI” initiative makes it easy to share your information between organizations

Fewer clicks—that’s how we’re changing the way you update your information with us.

We’ve heard how frustrating it can be to update your address and banking information multiple times with multiple organizations.

The Tell-Us-Once – Direct Deposit and Address Information Sharing Initiative (DAISI) is a joint effort between the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) that will allow you to update your information once and have it automatically shared with the other organization.

Last November, this initiative kicked off by giving Canadians the option to share their direct deposit banking information between the CRA and ESDC’s Canada Pension Plan program.

Now, people receiving a Canada Pension Plan Benefit will be able to update their direct deposit information once—either online, over the phone, in-person or through the mail. So far, over 56,000 Canadians have agreed to share their direct deposit information.


Helping families in remote communities register for the Canada Child Benefit

If you live in a remote community, you might know firsthand how challenging it can be to access government benefits and services.

For the 60 residents of Fort Babine reserve in Northern British Columbia, the barriers are considerable: Service Canada offices are the next town over and internet connections are shaky at best.

The challenge

So how can the government ensure that Canadians—wherever they live—are aware of its programs and services and know how to access them?

How we are making improvements

Personnel from Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency recently visited Fort Babine as part of an outreach pilot project to help eligible families on reserves and in Northern communities register for the Canada Child Benefit (CCB).

Dawn Morley Zirk, a Citizen Service Specialist, hosted information sessions at the adult learning centre where she issued social insurance numbers, provided application support for the Canada Child Benefit, Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and other government programs. She also explained how to access agent support and provided demonstrations on how to use the online programs.

The attendees were mostly youth, some of whom began knocking on doors of friends and family to encourage them to join.

This type of direct outreach demystifies government work and empowers residents with the right tools, knowledge and confidence to access services they are entitled to.

“When we contact a community to set up a visit or an information session and they say, “No visit needed, everyone’s caught up!” it’s a good feeling because it means that I have done my job,” says Dawn. “The staff and residents of some of these communities are comfortable now to call on me when they need me; it’s all about developing a strong team and partnership with respectful communication to support the people living in remote communities.”

Mobilizing during crisis: how aboriginal skills and employment programs helped fight the 2017 British Columbia wildfires

Thanks to the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS), a program that helps participants upgrade their skills and find work, destruction met its match during the 2017 BC wildfires.

When the wildfires broke out, organizations funded by ASETS in the Okanagan and Prince George took immediate action to increase participation in Fire Awareness and Fire Suppression training.

The Prince George/Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association (PGNAETA) had just graduated 36 people in forest fire training. The association immediately organized classes in fire awareness and fire suppression for more than 120 participants, including people from other groups funded by ASETS. A number of those participants returned to their communities to fight and prevent fires at home.

In an emotional interview, Jennifer Campagnolo, Service Manager for the Indigenous Programs Unit in Service Canada, describes how PGNAETA went above and beyond to answer when duty called.

YouTube video: How Aboriginal skills & employment program participants fought the 2017 British Columbia wildfires


Record of Employment on the Web (ROE Web): A faster way to issue Records of Employment

Canadian employers must issue a Record of Employment (ROE) anytime employees receiving insurable income experience what is known as an “interruption of earnings.” This generally happens when they haven’t worked, or expect that they won’t work, for seven consecutive calendar days.*

The ROE is one of the most important documents needed when applying for Employment Insurance (EI).

Each year, more than 1 million Canadian employers fill out more than 9 million ROE forms for their employees—time that cuts into profits.

If you’re a small or medium-sized employer, we’ve made things quicker and easier with ROE Web.

ESDC is committed to working with stakeholders to find better ways to get the information needed to run the EI program and, ultimately, make the process easier on employers and clients.

Watch this video to find out how we have made the process more efficient, reliable and convenient than ever before.

YouTube video: ROE Web: A faster way to issue Records of Employment

*The “seven-day rule” applies when employees quit their jobs or are laid off, or when their employment is terminated. But an interruption of earnings can also occur when an employee's salary falls below 60% of regular weekly earnings because of things like illness, injury, pregnancy or caring for family members who are gravely ill.

Please read the Employment Insurance Service Quality Review Report: Making Citizens Central.

Automatic enrolment starting for Guaranteed Income Supplement

The challenge

To make ends meet, many seniors count on a monthly, non-taxable benefit known as the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)—available to low income, Old Age Security (OAS) pension recipients.

But there’s a challenge: some of our country’s most vulnerable seniors either don’t know this benefit exists or how to apply for it.

How we are making improvements

Now, when a senior enrolls for OAS, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) will look at their household income (from their tax filing) and automatically enroll them for GIS if they are eligible.

This feature builds on the success of the Old Age Security auto enrollment initiative.

Up to 17,000 low-income seniors will be automatically enrolled for the GIS benefit each month.

This is just one of the ways we’re making services and benefits easier to access for some of Canada’s most vulnerable.



The 2017 BC Wildfires: Behind the Scenes at Service Canada

When the 2017 BC wildfires tragically wiped out homes, for many, it also destroyed the documents they needed to get financial aid.

In times of emergency, we go where we are needed: Service Canada set up mobile sites, so people could easily submit EI applications, confirm their social insurance information and ask questions.

But there is so much that happens behind the scenes of a crisis that Canadians don’t see: in order to provide these services quickly, our staff had to work together to respond, coordinate and deliver.

Check out this account from Brandon Yeung, Senior Advisor at Service Canada in Vancouver who played a critical role in organizing and supporting his coworkers on the ground.

Thanks to people like Brandon, we’re able to react to large-scale crises quickly and effectively.

YouTube video: ESDC Helps Canadians Affected by B.C. Wildfires


One Door, Two Levels of Government Service

The challenge

Canadians need and expect easy access to government services—and going to different locations for provincial and federal services can be a hassle, not to mention confusing.

For example, if you have a request related to your driver's license or health card, you need to head to your provincial service centre—but requests for items such as Employment Insurance or your passport can only be addressed at a Service Canada centre.

How we are making improvements

We’re making it easier for you to get many of the services you need in one place with co-located offices.

In September, Service Canada and ServiceOntario teamed up to create a one-stop shop for residents in Picton, Ontario. It is the sixth of its kind in the province.

Staff across all levels of the Federal and Provincial government worked together to make this project a reality.

A “collaboration by design” approach was taken to keep the client’s experience in mind, every step of the way. This was applied to everything—from floorplans to service delivery processes.

In addition to benefitting clients, the initiative benefitted our staff as well: Deborah Thatcher, Citizen Service Officer in Eastern Ontario, says, “I have learned tons about ServiceOntario. When I’m serving a client, I tell them what we do and what services we offer, and then I make the connections with ServiceOntario.”

The partnership in Picton was so successful that it is now being used as a model for best practices, as we look to build more co-located sites.

Bringing programs and services to remote communities through mobile outreach

The challenge

Remote communities face unique challenges when it comes to accessing and, sometimes, fully understanding Government services and benefits.

Obstacles include language barriers, limited Internet availability, a lack of access to computers and geographic isolation.

How we are helping

Because inclusivity is a priority for us, our staff sometimes travel to remote communities to make sure Canadians everywhere are getting the support they need.

We recently sent a small team to Nain, the northernmost permanent settlement in Labrador, where the languages spoken are English and Inuktitut.

Melinda Oliver-Morazé, a Citizen Services Specialist, and Karen Gregory, acting Team Leader, along with two representatives from the Canada Revenue Agency, travelled to the remote Inuit community to hold outreach sessions.

Once there, they were able to help people with their applications for SINs, and answer questions about the Canada Child Benefit, Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and other services.

“Despite the long journey, it was incredibly rewarding knowing that we are making it easier for the Inuit people of Labrador to access our programs and services,” said Melinda. “It’s a good feeling.”

When in-person visits aren’t possible, clients can go to Nain’s community centre and talk to a Service Canada Centre representative over teleconference, with the help of a translator next to them.

Since January 2015, Service Canada’s Atlantic Region has partnered with the Nunatsiavut Government to offer this virtual outreach to the people of Nain. Providing service delivery in remote communities requires extra planning but the rewards make it worthwhile. Thanks to scheduled and mobile outreach, both in-person and virtual, we are serving Canadians far and wide.


Improving EI processes through cooperation with stakeholders

In September 2017, Employment and Social Development Canada, with the support of the both the Commissioners for employers and workers, brought together employers, labour-sector representatives and payroll professionals to talk about how we can make the EI process better for everyone — including clients and employers.

The challenge

The process we have now can sometimes be challenging for employers. For example, a small business might not have staff who are dedicated to payroll paperwork, which makes it harder to meet our requirements. Also, sometimes, employer pay cycles do not match the weekly format that is required for EI claims so employers need to re-calculate the data, which is time-consuming and can lead to errors. In addition, the follow-up mail and phone calls with employers creates processing and payment delays for those making claims and builds frustration for businesses.

How we are making improvements

Together, with stakeholders, we are finding ways to make it easier to get the payroll and employment information that we need to run the EI program, while making it easier for employers and clients submitting a claim.

Jean-Marc Usher, a business counsellor for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, says, "It's a good way to share ideas and understand each other's perspectives. It's about finding a solution that helps everyone, not just one stakeholder."

Piloting ways to meet high demand for Social Insurance Numbers

The challenge

Every year thousands of international students arrive in Montreal to study. A flood of these new temporary residents apply for social insurance numbers so they can work in Canada and/or receive benefits and services from government programs. As a result, there is a spike in traffic and wait times at the downtown Montreal Service Canada center.

How we are making improvements

This year, we at Service Canada in Montreal, did something different: to improve service delivery and shorten wait times, we partnered with three major universities on a new pilot project by sending our staff to issue SINs to international students directly on campus.

Citizen Services staff spent 29 days at UQAM, McGill and Concordia and issued 1,566 social insurance numbers.

The international students who took part in the on-site pilot project were very satisfied with the ease, convenience and accessibility of the new service.

This service delivery win proves that teamwork, creativity, and a passion for helping others really pays off.

Beyond the paperwork: Serving Canadians during the 2017 British Columbia Wildfires

The challenge

Summer 2017 was the worst wildfire season on record for British Columbia. When the province went into a state of emergency, more than 50,000 residents were forced to leave their homes.

How we helped

Service Canada has a plan to help Canadians in times of emergency, when important documents needed for financial aid can be lost or destroyed.

Citizen Services staff jumped into action, setting up mobile work stations at wildfire evacuation and resilience centres and outreach sites. Our staff processed EI applications, helped confirm social insurance information and answered questions about additional support. Over 3,700 of the province’s affected residents were helped by our on-site teams.

Nathalie Thomas, Service Canada Team Leader in Kelowna, says: “My experience responding to the wildfires was humbling and eye opening. We always try to make a difference, and I felt like I succeeded. I am grateful to work with such a strong and dedicated team from all over the Region. It makes me proud to be a public servant and reminds me why I do what I do.”

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