Improving services for Canadians
Canadians have told us they want improvements to the services we deliver. We’re listening.
Below are some examples of how we are taking action.
For more information on the specific service solutions we’re implementing, please visit the Service Transformation Solutions web page.
On this page
- October 2019
- September 2019
- August 2019
- July 2019
- June 2019
- May 2019
- April 2019
- March 2019
- February 2019
- January 2019
- December 2018
- November 2018
Launch of the Toronto-North York Flagship Service Canada Centre
Just before the doors officially opened on October 25, 2018, the employees of the new Toronto-North York Flagship Service Canada Centre, commonly known as the Flagship, were gathered behind a big red ribbon. Accompanying them was the Assistant Deputy Minister for Ontario Region, Mary Ann Triggs, Ontario Region leaders, and the Flagship Project Team. The Service Triage Zone was buzzing with excitement as the team prepared to greet their first clients after years of strategic planning and inclusive design work. Everyone was there to celebrate a milestone on our collective Service Excellence Journey.
As one walks into the Flagship, the first thing they notice is the client centric design. It is a testing ground for many new and innovative, client-centric service strategies and technologies, with a focus on taking service excellence to the next level. The Flagship will offer new digital and virtual services for implementation across Service Canada, such as Virtual Based Service Delivery, which will allow clients to communicate with offsite Service Canada Benefits Officers (Tier 2), as well as Medical Adjudicators (Tier 3) on Canada Pension Plan – Disability (CPP-D) applications.
Citizen Service Officers can now help clients in any part of the Flagship using tablets and headsets, increasing their visibility and enabling clients to seamlessly move from in-person service to online. Public Wi-Fi further enhances the service experience by allowing the client to self-serve.
Clients with accessibility needs can now access service with the assistance of inclusive technologies such as Blindsquare beacons which help visually impaired clients to navigate to the entrance of the Flagship using the Blindsquare app on their smart phone. The Flagship also includes tactile flooring, integrated technologies in the public access workstations, such as screen reader software, a tactical map and much more. There is even a water bowl for seeing-eye dogs. All of these measures make the Flagship the most accessible Service Canada Centre in Canada.
The new features were the result of extensive consultations with clients, employees and the Inclusive Service Advisory Network (ISAN). ISAN is a group of community inclusivity and accessibility stakeholders and clients who provided valuable advice and guidance on the design of the Flagship.
The Flagship is all about offering a client service experience that is integrated, nimble, and responsive to client needs. And Flagship will continuously evolve and implement new ideas, thanks to the client feedback that is being received via the Service Excellence Survey. It is transformation in action.
Of course, no official opening would be complete without a little celebration. As the team cut through the ribbon, a celebratory cheer filled the Flagship. As the first clients of the day entered, they were warmly welcomed with a “Hello – Bonjour! How may I help you? Puis-je vous aider?”
Leaders of change: Noémie Payant-Hébert
We all know the adage, “the journey is more important than the destination.”
Noémie Payant-Hébert, a consultant with the Business Expertise Directorate of the EI Program’s Benefits Delivery Services, brings this perspective to work every day.
As a new media artist, service transformation is a creative process. Noémie brings the same passion to improving processes, work tools and communication between teams as she does to creating works of art. In other words, Noémie gets even more satisfaction from looking for solutions— (the journey)—, than from the final product— (the destination).
Of course, no transformation follows a straight line. But Noémie finds inspiration in all the back-and-forth, obstacles and changes of direction. “There are many ways to handle change. Noémie isn’t afraid of it—, she wants to be a part of it,” says her manager, Karim Fala. “We need dedicated leaders like her.”
Noémie’s dynamic energy and optimism make her a true leader of change, says her colleague, Élène Perron. “Her leadership and passion were the catalyst for a project aimed at developing feedback tools for team leaders, advisors and officers,” Élène says. “These tools would make the quality control process more efficient while promoting collaboration between sectors.”
Noémie says she is energized by the possibility of creating or generating ideas. “In the end, if a project is renamed or takes a different form than what we had developed, all the work we did to address the issue behind the project will still be there.”
Noémie also embraces her role as an agent of change.
“Since joining the big Service Canada family, Noémie has shown that she is there to move things forward,” Élène adds. “Through her enthusiasm and dedication, she embodies Gandhi’s teaching:‘Be the change you wish to see in the world.’”
Leaders of change: Josie Proskurnik
When Giuseppina ‘Josie’ Proskurnik took an acting Team Lead position with Service Canada’s Benefits Delivery Services Branch in Western Canada and Territories Region, she knew she did not have much time to make an impact on the employees she was leading: “I’ve only been a team lead for 4 months. It began on January 21, 2019 and ended May 27, 2019.”
Despite her short tenure, Josie gained the confidence and appreciation of her team very quickly.
“Josie is one of the most responsive team leads we’ve ever had,” says Sherry Robichaud, a Support Clerk with Service Canada who nominated Josie as a leader of change. “When we have a problem, she listens, takes notes, and explains exactly what steps she’ll take to fix it.”
While this kind of relationship between team lead and their staff is praiseworthy on its own, in the context of service transformation it becomes critical.
“We support Benefits Delivery processing and with service transformation, this department can experience many frequent changes on a daily basis that need to be applied quickly. Sometimes those changes are not always easy to understand and more communication is needed. Josie tries to answer our questions as best she can but if not, she’s committed to finding an answer from someone who knows.” Sherry says.
“I try to put my problem solving skills to work and promote employee participation, its important,” says Josie, “I try to include my entire team and fellow team leaders in the Foundation Services unit in brainstorming sessions to resolve any issues. I am always available; if my team wants to speak with me privately, my door is always open.”
What really impressed her team was her approach to their Performance Management Agreements (PMAs). “Team leads don’t generally come in with a background on what our job tasks consist of, including Josie,” says Sherry. “She job shadowed each member of her team for the day to learn what we do. I have never witnessed that before.”
“I didn’t think I could evaluate my team properly and measure their performance without having any knowledge of what they do, so I created my own “take me to work” case scenario”, admits Josie. “At the end of the day, I met with each of my team members and we discussed their job performance. After familiarizing myself with all their different roles, I felt more confident in my ability to rate my team’s PMAs for their year end performance agreement”. Sherry agrees: “She can actually speak specifically to my job functions and give me concrete feedback.”
“I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity,” says Josie. “I have learned a lot in the last 4 months and I would like to sincerely thank Sherry Robichaud for nominating me as a “Leader of change”, as well as my fellow Team Leaders and Senior Management for their support, knowledge and understanding.”
Leaders of change: John Boissonneault
Service Manager John Boissonneault is the first to acknowledge that change can be difficult. However, with ESDC undergoing a multi-year Service Transformation Plan (STP) he is encouraging his team in Canada Pension Plan Disability to “embrace the change and the opportunities that come with it.”
Transformation will see improvements in how the Benefits Delivery Services Branch (BDSB) delivers programs such as Employment Insurance and pensions to Canadians.
“These changes will help employees do their jobs, while helping ESDC move forward in serving our clients,” he says. “This is a big shift in how we work, how we function and how we think. We are focused on our clients, and focused on our people along the way.”
In nominating John as a leader of change, Business Expertise Consultant Cathy Walsh says John supports organizational goals by supporting his staff.
“We are privileged to have him in our organization,” she says. “John supports all our service transformation and corporate priorities. He is a champion for inclusion and diversity, and he always remembers to recognize a job well done.”
With change afoot, John says it is important to be honest and realistic about implementing STP’s goals, “communicating these are just proposed timeframes, communicating there could be setbacks, but also communicating that – no matter what – we don’t give up.”
He believes it is important to making sure all employees feel they are part of transformation by engaging them in discussions about pending improvements and through finding out where their skills and talents lie.
“With that comes their enthusiasm,” he says. “How can we not benefit from that? The connection we all have in common is we all want to help our clients, Canadians.”
Frontline officer: Annie Daunais
Annie Daunais, Citizen Services Specialist for Service Canada in Repentigny, Quebec, loves to tell people that she has the best job in the entire federal public service! Why? Because she gets to see firsthand how her department makes a real difference in the lives of people and communities.
Annie’s priority is ensuring seniors, youth, people with disabilities, newcomers, Indigenous people and laid-off workers have access to the benefits and services they are entitled to. Even after more than 15 years, she gets great satisfaction travelling to meet her clients in their communities to provide information on ESDC programs.
To do this, Annie relies on the Community Outreach and Liaison Service (COLS) toolkit. It includes everything she needs from presentations to pamphlets and reference documents. “Before, we had to make our own PowerPoint presentations,” she explains. “Now, all the information is accessible in one place and is continually being updated. This is a big step forward.”
The partnerships are evolving as well. Annie is particularly proud of work being done with partners in the Indigenous communities of Wemotaci and Manawan, which are 374 km and 217 km from Repentigny, respectively.
“During our last visit to Wemotaci, a professional training coordinator committed to ensuring that children in the community were all receiving the Canada Learning Bond,” she says. “In Manawan, an information session helped seniors receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement.”
These community visits involve the combined efforts of several government stakeholders. The Citizen Services Officer travelling with Annie helps people get Social Insurance Numbers, passports, Employment Insurance and Old Age Security benefits, while a Canada Revenue Agency Visibility Officer answers questions about personal taxes and the Canada Child Benefit. This partnership allows them to respond to a greater number of requests, which members of the community clearly appreciate.
“When we leave, our Indigenous partners are already talking about our next visit,” Annie says. “These annual meetings really help us to better identify the needs of each community so we can work with them collaboratively and continue to make positive change.”
Alex Bissett: 2 generations of serving Canadians
Alex Bissett joined ESDC as a senior auditor in 1975, back when it was called the Department of Manpower and Immigration. The newly created department took over responsibility for employment and unemployment services, and the Unemployment Insurance Commission.
But that name – Manpower and Immigration – only lasted until former Member of Parliament Flora MacDonald (1926 to 2015) became Minister in 1984.
“She said there was no way there was going to be a department called man-power,” Alex recalls, so it became the Department of Employment and Immigration Canada. Since then there have been numerous other name changes until the current and more comprehensive name, Employment and Social Development Canada.
It wasn’t just the name of the department that was different in 1975. So was the culture: bosses were mostly men, while women were mostly secretaries; manual typewriters were the standard cutting-edge office equipment and a suit and tie for men was de rigueur office wear.
“Dress down Fridays were only being introduced when I was retiring!” he laughs.
Alex worked in the internal audit bureau. “We essentially looked at how programs were being managed and whether they were doing what they were supposed to do.”
He says it was “a fun and interesting job,” that took him all over Canada, including a trip to the Yukon in the depths of winter.
“You might be working with Youth Services Division 1 month, auditing an unemployment branch in Nova Scotia and then get called up to skip across the country to British Columbia.”
Reflecting back on that work, he now realizes it was critical to improving services to Canadians.
“It was all about building collaboration,” he says. “If you work with the program, if they are part of the process, you get a better result.”
Improving services is still about collaboration, says his daughter, Carolyn Bissett, a Senior Communications Advisor in the Public Affairs and Stakeholder Relations Branch, ESDC.
“Growing up, I only knew my dad worked for ‘The Government’ helping people do their jobs better,” she says. “When we met for lunch, he said, ‘meet you at the escalators at Phase IV, right?’ That’s when I realized he was a former ESDC-er. We are both very proud to be associated with a department that touches the lives of every Canadian.”
Alex spent close to 20 years with the Department before retiring in 1995. He witnessed important changes to the office environment including stronger rights for employees, a more diverse workplace, technological advances that improved delivery of social security programs and the streamlining of services under ESDC.
“In my opinion, Canada was, and remains, quite high on the scale of social security programs compared with a lot of other countries,” he says. “We look after our citizens.”
Leaders of change: Menka Doneski
Menka Doneski knows that the best way to alleviate the worries of her clients is to go to where they are, seek them out, and really listen to them.
Menka is a Service Manager with Service Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) in Ontario Region (SAWP allows employers to hire temporary foreign workers [TFW] when Canadians and permanent residents are not available). She and her team are supporting Service Transformation in the Region, and Menka’s work has greatly improved service delivery for their clients.
Menka is responsible for ensuring that farmers across the nation are able to find workers. Her Service Canada colleagues Yelrihs Carrillo, Tad Klupsas, and Rozmyne Ahamed nominated her as a Service Transformation Leader of Change for her impact on the service and culture of SAWP.
“Rather than wait for them to come to us, she went out to meet with farmers and agriculture stakeholders personally,” says Tad. “It’s a real culture shift.”
“She provided training for (Service Canada) officers to tackle the challenges identified by the farmers. They have a great relationship with Menka because they know that she sincerely understands the pressures of their business and what they go through,” adds Rozmyne.
While Menka does not give herself all the kudos for her team’s transformation, she admits a lot of work and time have been dedicated to SAWP over the last 2 years. “When I started with the Program, there were concerns brought forth by employers and stakeholders in agriculture about the future of farming in Canada. We attended roundtables, listened to our stakeholders, then took what we learned and used it to figure out how best to support them. We embarked on many advancements to improve how we conducted our business and how we supported farmers across the country. Transforming the way we serve clients starts with listening.”
Menka’s dedication to her clients has rubbed off on her colleagues. “Menka makes sure that program officers understand the value of their work,” says Yelrihs. “It’s a lot of pressure on farmers: they don’t know what the crop is going to be like from year to year and they don’t know if they’ll have enough employees, particularly during peak periods. Thanks to Menka, we’ve made ourselves more accessible to farmers and stakeholders.”
Honoured to be nominated as a Leader of Change, Menka is quick to acknowledge that having a dedicated, supportive and talented team has helped make all the difference.
Frontline workers: Lexie Brown
School’s out for summer! School’s out forever (for many of us)! Nevertheless, the learning never stops.
When Lexie Brown was asked to become a SuperUser of the new Pensions Workload System (PWS) tool for the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security programs, her task was to teach her counterparts across Canada the ins-and-outs of the tool’s functions.
“The former tool was no longer effective for today’s workplace,” said Lexie, who is a Winnipeg-based Service Canada Processing Agent for the Canada Pension Plan. “We needed a tool to efficiently process work items, improve service delivery and support team leaders as they manage employee workload.”
Benefits of the PWS tool
The PWS gives employees the ability and flexibility to work smarter and improve services for Canadians. It is user-friendly, easy to navigate, allows for customized views, and, once you log in for the day, you stay logged in.
“It’s a small thing, but it keeps the workflow going,” Lexie added. “Users no longer have to adapt the way they work to fit the system, they can adapt the system to fit the way they want to work.
For example, employees can customize views by workload, age, work type and status. For agents, this means organizing their workload in a way that works best for them and still delivering in a timely manner. It helps keep me organized and complete the most important work items first.”
Perks of peer-to-peer teaching
While Lexie was brought in to teach others, she says that it was just as much of a learning experience for her or any other SuperUser. She also quickly recognized just how effective a peer-to-peer, teach-to-learn approach could be.
Because each team she worked with had unique needs specific to their work environment, Lexie found she needed to tailor her teaching approach to fit different groups. She now applies this tailored approach to her own everyday work life, looking at each situation and determining the best way to tackle it.
In the future, Lexie hopes other programs can adopt a similar peer teaching approach, because collaboration generates easier and better ways of working, ultimately improving things for everyone. After all, who knows better about what works and what doesn’t than day-to-day users?
Transformation is a two-way street. When we equip our employees with the modern tools they need to improve all aspects of their work—workload, workflow and work environment—the service experience is improved for our clients.
Leaders of change: Frédéric Faust
When we talk about transformation, we should never forget the power of this simple question: How can we improve client service, here and now?
Frédéric Faust, team leader for Service Canada's Benefit Delivery Services Branch in Shawinigan, Quebec, put this question to his team of officers responsible for processing Employment Insurance applications. His email did not go unnoticed. Just like a “butterfly effect,” Frédéric's question created a transformation movement that started locally and then spread regionally and nationally.
“None of this would have been possible without the officers who work directly with citizens. I also have to acknowledge the contribution of Justine Proulx, a team leader in Laval,” insists Frédéric.
Frédéric consulted with officers in Shawinigan, and Justine consulted with those in Laval. By the end of the consultation, Frédéric had received 44 ideas to improve services. “Frédéric knows the procedures and likes to find solutions to problems. He analyzes the feasibility of each and every suggestion from the officers,” explains Hugo Tardif, service manager at Service Canada. Their director, Patrice Brunet, was also thrilled with this initiative.
In fact, “the 44 ideas were so well received that Patrice and his colleagues shared them with the rest of Canada,” says Nathalie Hamel, who wrote Frédéric's nomination for leader of change. The national advisors then decided to consult officers in every region. “The 44 solutions grew to 92, from which 11 were chosen for their outstanding effectiveness,” adds Frédéric.
So which of the 11 “winning solutions” was the most popular? Without a doubt, the one that now allows officers to use email, rather than a letter, to communicate with clients who do not respond to the first attempt by phone. “Clients call their officer the same day or the next day when they receive an email, whereas we would have to wait 7 to 10 days when we sent them a letter. This means we can process their applications faster,” explains Frédéric.
To close with a word from Hugo: “Frédéric was the catalyst for this service improvement project. More importantly, he proved that transformation is everybody's business, at every level.”
Leaders of Change: Augustin Guillois-Cardinal
Augustin Guillois-Cardinal has only been with the Insurance Payment Operational Centre (IPOC) in Boucherville, Quebec, for a year. However, he has already earned himself a reputation as an innovator—not only among his colleagues, but with management as well.
This reputation comes from his constant search for tools to simplify his work and the work of his team; work that is technical, time-consuming and meticulous. Here's why:
At IPOC, officers like Augustin analyze complex Employment Insurance (EI) claims. “We calculate EI overpayments and underpayments that were made over weeks or even months for certain exceptional cases that the computer can't handle. Since legislation changes from year to year, our calculations have to take into account the regulations in force at the time,” explains Augustin.
So Augustin set about finding a way to make the task easier. “I'm really lazy,” he confesses. In reality, he strives to optimize his time so he can dedicate more of it to his real passion: analyzing case files.
Last August, he presented his colleagues with an Excel spreadsheet customized to their needs. All that IPOC officers need to do is enter the amounts into the tool and it takes the appropriate EI regulations into account.
“Augustin's tool greatly simplifies the officers' work,” affirms Fanny McGuire, a Service Canada team lead. “When Augustin comes to us with an idea, we know he's really done his homework. He has analysed the issue from every angle and considered the feasibility of his solution and its impact on operations. It's a turnkey solution,” she adds.
Are you wondering how you can become a Leader of Change like Augustin? Augustin's advice might seem contradictory: do not try to reinvent the wheel or revolutionize how things are done. “The more a new tool is accessible and easy to use for daily work, the more appealing it is for users and management,” he says.
For Augustin, transformation means constantly seeking ways to work more efficiently so there is more time to concentrate on what matters most: client service. His spreadsheet “may not be revolutionary,” as he says, but it significantly improves procedures and is very much appreciated!
Leaders of change: Kavita Batra
Kavita Batra's team at the College@ESDC says their boss isn't just driving the train; she's out in front laying new tracks for everyone else!
As the Acting Manager of Instructional Design and Development Services for Processing Centre Training, Kavita's job is to create training programs for employees who process claims for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Old Age Security (OAS), and disability insurance.
“For example, we have a lot of nurses who work for the Department making decisions on applications for disability,” Kavita says. “It is very complex work, so the College is redesigning training for them so that they can do their job as efficiently as possible.”
Senior Learning Consultant, Jehan Moos, nominated Kavita as a Leader of Change for “going above and beyond her role as manager.”
“When we talk about Service Transformation, we tend to focus on the services we deliver to Canadians,” Jehan says. “For Service Transformation to be successful, we need to support our staff. Kavita is always keeping her ear to the ground to ensure that the training we provide addresses the big transformation shifts on the horizon. This hugely supports our change management processes.”
Kavita led the successful implementation of training for the Corporate Payment Management System. In addition to leading the redesign of all training products for new Pensions Processing staff, she is also working on advancing training to support CPP Enhancement and the move to an online application for CPP-Disability.
“My job gives me a huge sense of purpose,” Kavita says. “I feel dedicated to my work because I think it is extraordinarily important. The demographic that uses these services is an aging population as well as a very vulnerable one. It is a very complex time for the Department with the numerous modernization and renewal initiatives going on right now.”
Critical to meeting these challenges, she says, is “respecting your employees' expertise. I am the manager but I can't do this alone. Everyone has to bring their a-game to the table.”
Leaders of change: Ketiwe Nyanyiwa
If you had asked Bob Dylan what it was like to work in the Program Delivery Branch of the Labour Market and Social Development Program in Western Canada and Territories Region at the end of 2018, he probably would have said something like “The times they are a'changin'…”
And boy were they.
April Willier Anderson, a Program Service Delivery Clerk with the team, remembers it well: “In October, we found out we would be taking on processing responsibilities for an additional 10,000 Canada Summer Jobs applications. We were also told that administrative changes were coming to all the programs we delivered, meaning re-training for everyone.”
“The following month, our team was completely relocated to the 14th floor from the second. It was a lot all at once.”
Fortunately, April and her colleagues had Ketiwe Nyanyiwa, this week's leader of change, as their Branch's Service Manager. “Ketiwe made sure that her support staff were prepared for the move. Through them, she orchestrated a gradual packing, purging, and planning system that allowed for a smooth transition,” says April.
“She also made training resources available to staff as they took on their new processing duties and provided them with the messaging they needed to explain the program changes to our contribution recipients – all in a very short amount of time.”
While Ketiwe's managerial skills and concern for her employees during this hectic transition would be enough to merit her nomination as a leader of change, it was what Ketiwe did next that really impressed her teammates, including April.
“Through these changes, Ketiwe realized that the team needed to be brought together for a face-to-face meeting where we could build relationships with our colleagues and share knowledge and best practices”, added April.
“I managed virtually,” says Ketiwe. “We're responsible for Northern Alberta and Saskatchewan so we have staff in different offices across the 2 provinces. This way of working can leave some staff feeling isolated and I felt that we needed a day where we had everyone in the room together to strengthen our workplace culture.”
She also believed it would mean better service for Canadians: “When you're working in silos, if one person is processing something one way and another is doing it differently, there is repetition, there is no collaboration between colleagues that could make the work more efficient. This had to change or someone is always reinventing the wheel.”
So she brought all her staff to Edmonton for a ‘Team Day' of group discussions and team building. The result was the Team Charter, a document that lays out the roles and expectations of team members. “It spells out who we are and how we choose to work as a team,” says Ketiwe, “It's the work, our goals, and our norms and mores.”
“Ketiwe was the driving force behind Team Day and the Charter,” says April, “She wants to hear suggestions and ideas from her employees, recognizes their strengths, and makes time to remind us that we are all on the same team.”
Leaders of change: Kathy Lusk
Kathy Lusk says she was a “walker” long before the zombie craze co-opted the term.
“I believe in engagement with my team,” says the Director of Integrity and National Services – Atlantic Region. “I walk around, talk to them, I know their names. The reward for that is you get trust from the team, honest answers and I get a fantastic education from them.”
Kathy's team works on the detection and deterrence of misuses of Service Canada programs such as Old Age Security (OAS), Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Employment Insurance (EI), and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).
“We make sure these programs are being used properly and that people are getting what they're supposed to be getting in terms of benefits and entitlements,” she says. “We make sure we are able to correct situations including recapturing federal funds if misuse had occurred.”
In nominating her as a Leader of change, her team says, “Kathy's head is always in the game.”
“Kathy stands back and evaluates a situation before acting”, says executive assistant Marlene Higgins. “She considers options, calls in specialists, makes decisions – often tough ones – and she encourages people to do their best.”
Kathy says Service Transformation holds a lot of excitement and hope for the Integrity and National Services Branch in terms of allowing them to work more efficiently and effectively, particularly work being done to allow clients to upload their documents online.
“We still do a lot of paper work,” she says. ”Actual paper work. The OAS and CPP programs are still mostly paper so getting documentation from clients can be challenging – can you fax me this? Can you scan and email this? It would be so great if we had an automated system in which clients could just upload documents into the system. That's on our wish list.”
Kathy credits her team with always showing “care and consideration” and a passion for ensuring Canadians are well served.
“My team is amazing. They so know their stuff. I let them do what they were hired to do, which is helping our clients.”
Frontline workers: Herman Khangura
Herman Khangura says working on a pilot project at Pearson International Airport in Toronto convinced him he's a “people person.”
In 2015, Herman was working for Service Canada issuing Social Insurance numbers to foreign workers right at the airport. The program was so successful it was expanded to include refugees, permanent residents and seasonal agricultural workers. It was, he says, “an amazing experience.”
“We saw a lot of refugees coming in through the Syrian Resettlement Program, fleeing war-torn countries, coming to Canada for a chance at a better life,” he recalls. “It was very emotional. They would break down and start crying, they were just so grateful for the opportunity. An opportunity most Canadians are born with.”
He says the experience was eye opening, challenging and pivotal to his career. He continues to work on the frontlines as a Citizen Services Officer (CSO), now at the Brampton Service Canada Centre (SCC).
“I love dealing with people,” he says. “I help clients with their Canada Pension or Employment Insurance applications, getting their Social Insurance numbers, passport applications. I need that human connection.”
He also works to improve those services, says his colleague, CSO Cedric Sanchez.
“Herman often explores new ways to improve day-to-day operations by providing advice and guidance to management on how to promote the administration of federal programs,” Cedric says. “When the Brampton SCC saw an increase in requests from International students and new Canadians, Herman recognized that this demographic needed to be better informed. He became a champion in promoting online service.”
Herman says his personal work philosophy comes down to treating clients the way you or your family would like to be treated.
“My parents are immigrants,” he says. “They came from India in the late 70s and I often picture them here in the Service Centre. How would I feel if my parents or my Grandma were not treated with respect? That's my daily approach.”
Leaders of change: Tara Yetts
Her colleagues describe Tara Yetts as inclusive, collaborative and “a great boss.” But her best attribute, they say, may be her ability to laugh at herself.
“Yes, I’m absolutely the first one to laugh at myself,” Tara says. “I think that brings a level of vulnerability, a positive morale and mindset to the workplace. People see you as a person.”
Tara is the Director of the Modernization and Training Team within the Program Operations Branch (POB). She is also the contact person for the Modernization of Grants and Contributions (Gs and Cs), the Gs and Cs Training portfolio, and the Vulnerable Populations Initiative that was announced in Budget 2018.
On top of juggling those files, she is also the Mental Health and Workplace Wellness Champion for her branch.
“Sometimes we spend more time at work than we do at home so it’s important to have fun at work, to be able to laugh at situations and find the humour in things,” she says. “You can have fun and still get the work done. In fact, I find it makes the workplace more productive.”
Tara is also a proponent of letting her managers and employees “run with their ideas.”
“I like to be open to other people’s ideas,” she says. “I take every opportunity to promote and give them credit for their ideas. I always tell my team, I’m here to make sure you get the guidance, the engagement, the approvals you need. I will be your biggest champion.”
In nominating Tara as a Leader of Change, her staff underscored Tara’s “profound understanding of the skills and collaboration required in order to achieve specific goals, and her true sense of leadership when it comes to engaging a team on the road to Service Transformation.” Tara says that is achieved through one of her favourite management tools: good old-fashioned brainstorming.
“I love bringing a bunch of people together to brainstorm and just throw ideas out there,” she says. “It’s amazing what comes out of that. It’s a good way to build trust.”
Tara says she is honoured that her name was put forward as a Leader of Change, but she emphasizes she is standing on the shoulders of a “strong management team and employees that are dedicated and engaged.”
“I can’t be successful without them,” she says. “What’s fantastic about my team is that they are all encouraging of one another. It’s a very positive environment.”
Transforming services for employers – one call at a time
Thanks to the combined efforts of:
- the Atlantic, Ontario and Western Canada and Territories Regions
- the Transformation and Integrated Service Management Branch (TISMB)
- and the Innovation, Information and Technology Branch (IITB), employers calling Employer Contact Centres (ECCs) are receiving faster, improved service
After many years of planning and testing, ESDC successfully implemented the Hosted Contact Centre Solution (HCCS) in all three ECCs: Bathurst, NB, Sudbury, ON and Vancouver, BC.
Before HCCS, employers would call the ECC and would wait in queue for the first available Payment Services Officer (PSO). The PSO would then ask the employer the reason for their call: do they need assistance with ordering Records of Employment (ROEs)? Technical support for the ROE website? Do they require information on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program? The PSO would then find the information they needed online and pull it up on their screen to assist the employer.
With the new system, employers calling the ECC simply enter their business number and use a menu of options to indicate the type of assistance they need. “The new system uses Voice over IP technology, meaning the phone is connected to our computer,” explained Amar Sidhu, a PSO in the Harbour Centre (Vancouver) ECC. “Now when we receive the call, we already know the program or service the employer is requesting assistance with and have that information on our screen and are ready to provide service. This has reduced wait times, resulting in faster service for the employer.”
Additionally, the HCCS provides call centre employees with enhanced information on the types of calls received and the time needed to answer each type of call. “Knowing this information will enable managers to better forecast resources based on phone call trends and allow the triage and routing of calls based on a specific service request,” explained Raymond Pedneault, a Service Manager with the ECC in Sudbury.
While this migration is now complete, the transformation process continues as plans are underway to modernize the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security Call Centres as well. The Pensions Call Centre was implemented May 13, 2019, and will be followed by the EI Call Centres in the fall. The lessons learned from the ECC migration have proven invaluable in this process.
The implementation of HCCS in ESDC Call Centres across Canada will make the work of our call centre colleagues a little bit easier and service to our clients that much better.
We are improving how we serve our clients, one call at a time.
Leaders of change: Kari Beach
Kari Beach is incredibly proud of her Transformation Resource Management team.
"They work so hard to make the Service Transformation vision a reality doing all the non-sexy, behind the scenes stuff, and I feel strongly that they should be recognized for their efforts."
She was poised to nominate them for Intersection’s Leaders of Change series when someone beat her to it and nominated Kari first.
"I was really surprised and also really flattered," says Kari, currently the Acting Director of Transformation Resource Management. "But I’m only as good as the people behind me."
Kari’s team does centralized resourcing for Service Transformation. She also oversees two teams, one for Human Resources and one for procurement.
"Our job is to resource all of the projects that are part of the transformation agenda for the Transformation and Integrated Services Branch (TISMB)," she explains. "But there are other projects such as passport modernization and the Integrated Labour System that we also support by getting them resources such as staff or contractors. It’s our job to make that happen."
In nominating Kari, her staff say "she is a Leader of Change because she is truly passionate about improving ESDC to help meet its mandate. Kari encourages and promotes positive change within her teams and is a firm believer in having the right people at the right time to advance transformation projects as efficiently as possible."
Kari’s first professional calling was in social work, where she learned a skill set she calls upon "every day."
She says "communications, understanding, paying attention to the human dynamics," are the tools she brings to her current position. "I know my expectations are high but I also feel it’s important to create a workplace where people share the vision. We have to make this a workplace of choice. I encourage my team to work hard and play hard."
Kari says she believes in sharing as much information as possible so her staff can understand why and what they’re doing. "If I can get buy-in from my team, then they get buy-in from the people we are supposed to be serving."
But she also constantly challenges her teams to figure out how to do things differently to make their processes more efficient.
"I really want them to be part of the change. I want them to see their impact," she says. "There is nothing bigger right now than being part of Service Transformation at ESDC. That’s huge and change is not easy. It’s important as a manager to make sure that we pay attention to that and create an environment that is fun to come to every day."
Frontline workers: Jacquie Strelau
Jacquie Strelau says she likes having one foot in management and the other still firmly planted in client service.
"I love dealing with people," she says. "People come to us for help getting the benefits or services they need and we’re the face of government."
Now a Manager with Citizen Services and Program Delivery Branch in Saskatchewan, she oversees three main Service Canada Centres (SCC) in Saskatoon, North Battleford and Melfort. But her career started "at the front end."
"The first 10 to 12 years of my career was face-to-face with clients," she says. "Those early years helped me understand everyone is different, and gave me really useful people skills that help me as a manager."
Jacquie says Saskatoon is the busiest SCC in Saskatchewan, so she keeps a close eye on the client queue, wait times and when her team last had a break.
"I will spell off my team on the desk so that they get their break or a chance to re-focus," she says. "Their job is exhausting because you’re basically on 100% of the time, you are out there serving clients. And you’re talking the entire day."
When it was noted that Saskatoon was only getting about 5 feedback forms per month – too few to draw any concrete conclusions on how well they’re performing – Jacquie helped to implement an electronic survey on a tablet device that allowed citizens to more easily rate services.She says that feedback has been critical to better serving clients.
"We’re not counsellors, but we have to listen to their story to get them on the path to the benefits they are entitled to," she says. "Some people have just lost their job. Others are coming in to report the death of a loved one. We have to show empathy, make sure they have all the right forms and help them with the forms or the computers to register for a My Service Canada Account."
She says she makes it a rule to greet everyone with a smile, a hello or bonjour, and always remembers this piece of advice from a former boss:
"Every day is a job interview," she says. "Every day you come to do your job, do it well. That’s always stayed with me."
New Benefits and Services Finder solution infographic
When the Department set out to modernize the public service and provide clients with a world-class service experience that responds to both their current and evolving needs, it began by looking inward and asking "What works, what doesn’t and what could we be doing better?"
One of the resounding answers was: Improve the Benefits Finder tool, an online questionnaire, first introduced in the early 2000s. It asks clients a few simple questions and, based on this information, provides then matches them with a list of federal and provincial/territorial benefits and services they may be eligible for.
The Benefits Finder tool is:
- tailored to clients in that it generates a customized list of potential benefits like CPP, EI and other provincial/territorial benefits and services they may be eligible to receive
- quick and easy to use - and allows the user to search instantly through hundreds of benefits from a desktop or mobile device
- printable and portable so clients can email and print their results to review at their own convenience
- always improving thanks to input and feedback mechanisms
Each week, over 25,000 Canadians discover the benefits they may be eligible to receive.
Check out the Benefits and Services Finder infographic available.
Watch the new service transformation animated video
When the Department set out to improve the way we deliver services to Canadians, it did so with a view to ensuring that clients remain at the core of the service transformation agenda, balancing their wants and needs with ESDC’s resources and business model.
We are listening to Canadians and asking them what kind of services they want and how they want to access our programs and benefits. Then we design, build and test solutions based on that feedback, making sure they also work for both clients and employees.
Take a moment to watch the latest animated video and learn more about how service transformation is taking shape across the country.
It’s really true – it is faster and easier than ever to get your passport
By Laura Teed, Public Affairs and Stakeholder Relations Branch
Last December, Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced Service Canada’s passport program had doubled its passport points of service since 2017. While this probably wasn’t news to most ESDC employees, what many may not realize is how truly impactful these kinds of service delivery improvements are until it affects them personally.
Enter my personal story: my passport expired in September last year and I found myself in a predicament since, as a new Ottawa resident, I had no idea where to get this done.
Growing up in the Maritimes, my passport experience often included lengthy travel as there were very few places we could go to get our passports processed. For me, that was Fredericton, New Brunswick. In my youth, I remembered frantic, 2-hour long highway drives in white-out snowstorms to get the coveted document as March Break vacation loomed. Sadly, I remember a time when all this effort was in vain: we arrived at the office in Fredericton to realize we had left my birth certificate at home – resulting in another afternoon off and a repeat drive from Moncton the next day.
With the ghosts of passport applications past haunting me over the holiday, I decided to check out the newly-announced passport receiving services. While visiting my sister in Moncton last December, I went with her to the local Service Canada Centre to see how this would play out with her application. She arrived with all her documents for what they call a “simplified renewal.” She was seen very quickly and, in about 10 minutes, the whole thing was over. Her passport arrived via registered mail one week later. Hard to believe that that hers was one of the 2.7 million passports processed in 2018 – let alone one of the 6,849 done each day!
A week later, I used my lunch hour to drop of my own completed passport application at the passport office here in Gatineau, QC. I was a bit nervous by the length of the line (and making a concerted effort to ensure no one could peek at my most recent mugshot), but it moved surprisingly fast! In less than 45 minutes, I was greeted by numerous happy faces, was processed quickly and sent on my way. My passport arrived within 5 business days – even earlier than they told me!
To quote Minister Duclos at the December 17th expansion announcement at the Toronto Pearson International airport, we really are “…putting in place new measures to make life easier for Canadians." For my sister and I, the passport experience was faster and easier than ever before – putting our minds at ease as we prepared for our upcoming travel.
Leaders of change: Julie Mazerolle
Julie Mazerolle’s background in conflict management and organizational development taught her two essential truths:
- never make assumptions, and
- we all need more face time with our colleagues
“I find we are in an age of technology where we text, email and message,” she says. “I like bringing people together, face-to-face, to talk, problem-solve and brainstorm. Many workplaces have lost that.”
Julie is an analyst with the Business Process Management Centre of Excellence. The Centre’s role in the Service Transformation Plan is to help branches redesign, simplify and/or standardize their processes. One of her specific projects is identifying the process requirements of the federal pay and benefits systems.
“I teach and coach individuals and groups about how to improve their processes. This means helping them: ensure clients are at the centre of all they do; use their resources more efficiently and effectively; and work better together,” she says. “When we examine how work is organized, we can improve a process which in turn improves the way that people can work in their day to day lives. It’s a very healthy and positive way of increasing well-being at the office.”
Julie’s boss, Francois Foulem, Director, Project Services, Business Process Management Centre of Excellence, nominated her as a Leader of Change. “Julie’s a fun employee and person to be around,” he says. “She is very optimistic and a gifted facilitator who asks tough questions in a very non-threatening way to get people to really examine how they work together.”
Julie also coaches ESDC employees on how to improve their workplaces. “Understanding what our colleagues are doing is key,” she says.
“It’s human nature to make assumptions,” she notes. “Like, why am I waiting so long for this? What are they doing over there? They don’t know what they are doing. Once we understand the realities of our colleagues upstream or downstream, it’s like oh, I didn’t realize what they are up against.”
Julie says conflict in the workplace is often about people not clearly understanding their roles and responsibilities, the way work is organized, and the need for more training. “Part of my work has always been to look at how people interact in organizations. The genuine caring and empathy I feel for my colleagues really helps me to understand and embrace all aspects of the job.”
Frontline workers series: Marie-Josée Chénard
Marie-Josée Chénard is a Citizen Services Officer at the Service Canada Centre (SCC) in Val-d’Or, Quebec. What does she like most about her job? Simply put, providing service to people.
“I find it really gratifying to help someone who is confused, or sometimes even a bit angry, and to see them leave our office happy because they got answers to their questions.”
Mobile services to connect with citizens
Her role is not limited to helping people at the SCC. Having worked at Service Canada for more than 5 years, Marie-Josée’s responsibilities include promoting new technologies that have been implemented as part of the Service Strategy, such as the Job Bank mobile app.
She also participates in the continuum of services in Nunavik (northern Quebec) in partnership with the Kativik Regional Government. Through this partnership, she takes part in outreach tours to this remote area where there is no SCC to provide in-person services.
This partnership with the Kativik Regional Government, which has 14 points of service in Inuit communities such as Kangirsuk, enables Marie-Josée to meet clients in person during these occasional tours. She can provide services such as checking online files, answering questions, issuing Social Insurance Numbers and receiving passport applications. In short, she can provide the same services she does at the Val-d’Or SCC.
A pilot project to better serve remote areas
In October 2018, on one of these trips, Marie-Josée successfully tested the satellite connection equipment for the Community Outreach and Liaison Services pilot project. This project, which is a key part of the Service Transformation Plan, aims to provide internet access to Service Canada employees when they travel to remote areas.
Marie-Josée may return to Nunavik for the Department’s next tour in April 2019. She would be happy to have another chance to see the people who welcomed her so warmly in the past and to once again provide in-person service to this remote area.
2 sides of the Service Transformation coin
Kyle Reedman’s goal is to take Service Transformation beyond the acronyms, outside of the corporate-speak, and get to the heart of the ‘so what’ factor.
“Lots of staff might see information around Service Transformation and say, ‘that doesn’t mean anything to my work.’ They may work on EI or pension claims, talking to clients at call centres all day long. Their workloads are so high they figure, ‘I go to work, I do my job,’” he notes. “To get employees to see how Service Transformation has an impact on their day-to-day work is central to what we’re doing.”
Kyle works with the Benefits Delivery Service Branch (BDSB) in the Western Canada and Territories region. The branch processes applications for benefits such as Employment Insurance and CPP, as well as specialized programs like Apprenticeship grants.
As a Business Expertise Consultant, Kyle finds tools and resources for managers and leaders to engage with staff around the Service Transformation Plan (STP). He says WebEx sessions have been a particularly successful engagement tool. A regional Design Thinking WebEx that Kyle organized in July 2018, for example, had 77 attendees with 94% indicating the session improved their knowledge of design thinking.
“WebEx sessions have been great to help make STP messages relevant to staff,” he says. “For example, we recently had the Acting Executive Director of Business Expertise, Wendy McMurray, speak on how leaders can be champions as well as on changing service language to be more client-centric.”
Aside from one short posting outside of BDSB, Kyle has worked with the Branch since 2008. He says he finds it exciting to be at the centre of the shift towards a more client-centric culture.
“That client-centric outlook is really important,” he says. “I think everyone who works in Service Canada loves helping Canadians. Knowing that we’re shifting towards being even more client-centric is gratifying. Not only are we helping Canadians, we’re going to do it in a more profound way than by just upping production.”
He says that, in the past, ESDC has been more focused on statistics and increasing the number of tasks done. “Meeting those expectations is still really important. But instead of making that the whole goal, we’re shifting it to what the outcomes are of what we’re doing. We’re taking the extra time with the client to make sure they understand a particular process or application, so they don’t have to call back.”
Kyle says ultimately client and employee satisfaction are two sides of the same Service Transformation coin. “Looking at employees as clients and knowing that transformation efforts are going to make their workplace better, while moving the markers on client service for all Canadians, is exciting.”
Leader of Change: Duncan Keith
Duncan Keith has spent the last 30 years of his career trying to make workplaces somewhere you want to come to.
As Manager, Workplace Solutions, Duncan leads a team responsible for developing interior design standards for the entire department. He is particularly driven to improve accessibility for employees with disabilities.
“The definition of accessibility has traditionally been narrow and not always applied in an inclusive manner,” he says. “To my knowledge, ESDC is the only federal government department to ensure that all of its new builds will be 100% barrier-free. This is what separates us from the pack.”
As per the National Building Code of Canada, employees with mobility disabilities are accommodated with wider major hallways, roomier kitchens, bathroom stalls and work cubicles. But Duncan says that doesn’t go far enough.
“Typically we would custom design and modify your cubicle or office so it could accommodate your wheelchair. But then you want to go see your colleague, or your director. Those spaces do not accommodate your wheelchair.”
Duncan’s team “turned that upside down” about 5 years ago. “We moved from accessibility to inclusivity. In our new spaces, you can’t tell they’re designed for wheelchairs. They just work for everyone.”
And his team isn’t stopping there. Duncan notes people with mobility disabilities represent about 7% of the employee population. He says they’re now going after the “invisible disabilities”.
“We’re currently updating our Interior Design Standards to include people with vision and hearing disabilities as well as social anxiety disorders, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), all these other disabilities. It’s a lot of work, but I don’t think it’s actually that hard. You have to try, right?”
Duncan maintains that greater inclusivity in the workplace doesn’t just benefit employees, but the entire Department.
“As in any organization, your single largest cost is salary. If you have employees who, due to the workplace, aren’t as productive as they could be, that’s a drain on the organization,” he says. “You want to make your organization run as efficiently as possible.”
Leaders of change: Rosemonde Boucher
As a Process Management Specialist, Rosemonde Boucher says Service Transformation is all about listening to employees.
“They are the frontline,” she says. “They know where the problems are. They know what the clients think. As we work through Service Transformation, we have to feel the pulse of the employees, the people who touch the work every day.”
Rosemonde works with the Transformation and Integrated Services Management Branch (TISMB) examining and analyzing processes to improve services. She says that means giving employees the tools – and the voice – to make improvements to their day-to-day work.
“After receiving our Business Improvement teaching, we ask employees to go back to their business operations and apply our methodology to improve a process in their operations. They look at where the bottlenecks are, where the main difficulties are in their process and they come up with solutions I coach them through that process,” she explains.
“Rosemonde has devoted herself to ensuring that novice facilitators are well equipped, ready and comfortable to share what they have learned,” says her Director Francois Foulem. In nominating her as a Leader of Change, he says, “Rosemonde’s extraordinary contribution through coaching and teaching, as well as her good humour and patience, are critical to the service transformation process.”
“When I work with a team, or coach them, I am empowering the front line workers and showing them their opinions matter, that they can make a difference on a daily basis for Canadians,” Rosemonde says.
“I teach employees to look at the process as a whole so they know that how they do their work directly affects other parts of the process as well as affects their colleagues. It also raises their awareness about the quality of service to clients. We are civil servants; we are here to serve Canadians. Everything we do every day has an impact on them.”
Frontline workers: Jelena Jenko
Jelena Jenko says one of the benefits of being a Team Leader at the Toronto-North York Flagship Service Canada Centre is that she still gets to work the frontlines, helping clients.
“All Ontario regional team leaders are active team leaders, so if we are needed on the desk we pitch in,” she says. “It’s a really nice reminder of why we do, what we do.”
While she acknowledges serving clients can be challenging, she says it is also “instantly rewarding.”
“Sometimes you make someone’s day, you’ve explained something to them, helped them find an application form they’ve been searching for. Ultimately, this is what it’s all about.”
The Toronto-North York Service Canada Centre is the “Flagship” for future Service Canada Centres aimed at improving accessibility. The Flagship boasts cutting-edge, hi-tech features such as tactile maps and flooring to provide navigational assistance for all clients including those with visual impairment; access stations with 8 adjustable desks so clients can sit or stand; roving Citizen Services Officers equipped with radio headsets and tablets to proactively triage clients when there is a line-up; and software which reads material on computer screens out loud.
Despite all the modern amenities, Jelena says the most popular feature at the Toronto–North York Flagship Service Canada Centre might just be the refreshment bowls thoughtfully provided for service animals.
“Everyone loves those and comments on them. It’s all part of serving all client segments equally. That’s Service Transformation in a nutshell.”
For Jelena, working at the Flagship is also a leadership opportunity in a totally innovative office.
“That’s a big motivator for me,” she says. “I have always liked change, so I like how we are moving forward.” She also likes working in an environment where expecting the unexpected is part of the daily routine.
“It’s an attitude and a philosophy,” she says. “You have to come to work with an open mind and embrace change because in the operations environment, no matter how much you plan your day, it will never be what you planned. It’s really about the end goal which is client service excellence.”
Leaders of change: Justin Dong
Justin Dong says his goal is to make Service Transformation “real and tangible” for staff.
As a Communications and Marketing Consultant in the Western Canada and Territories Region, he says, “the best way to do that is to help people see how they fit into the bigger picture. Employees want to see tangible examples of what the Service Transformation Plan (STP) is. Not just what the principles are or what the thinking is. We need to find ways of sharing the successes and experiences.”
That means creating the time and space staff need to put their ideas forward, “and stay involved in the hundreds if not thousands of conversations that are going around about Service Transformation.”
He points to the Western Canada and Territories (W-T) Region’s Service Transformation highlights web page as one way to help employees stay involved and up-to-date on STP activities and “all things Transformation.”
Acceleration Hub activities and WebEx sessions are other tools that can “help to frame some of the broader thinking about what Transformation is for employees.”
Public Affairs and Stakeholder Relations Branch Communications Manager Darrel Houlahan nominated Justin as a Leader of Change.
“Justin is fully engaged in Service Transformation and conveys that to his team every day,” Darrel says. “He is always looking at how to make it resonate with his colleagues in the W-T Region and across the country through his enthusiasm, communications skills and knowledge of the file.”
It helps that Justin thrives in a fast-paced environment of change and variety.
“What I like most about working on Transformation is that there is always something on the go that you can sink your teeth into and support,” Justin says. “I’ve worked for the department for 14 years. Service Transformation is the single biggest change that I’ve seen since Service Canada was created. It is revitalizing our approach to service excellence.”
Going where they are: Remote service delivery in Labrador
Darren Walsh (Director of Program Delivery – Atlantic Region) and Christine McDowell (Director General of Citizen Services and Program Delivery – Atlantic Region) recently travelled to Labrador to discuss service delivery and partnership opportunities with Indigenous leaders to better access Service Canada and other government programs and services.
Providing quality services to remote Indigenous communities where internet connectivity is limited and the nearest Service Canada Centers can be hundreds of kilometers away.
How we are making improvements
Thanks to ESDC service improvements, Canadians living in remote areas are receiving more in-person service from Service Canada Citizens Services Specialists and Officers. The Department is also developing and piloting new tools and technology that will give clients in these communities better access to online services and benefits.
“The communities were very welcoming,” Darren said of the sites they visited on their 5-day tour, which included the Sheshatshui Innu First Nation Community, the Mushuau Innu First Nation in Natuashish and the Inuit community of Makkovik.
Darren added that once residents found out they were with Service Canada, they expressed their appreciation for the visits he and other Service Canada employees had made to the area. One grocery store employee told them about a Citizen Services Officer who was there just a week earlier.
“She appreciated being able to gain access to the services we deliver,” he said, adding that demand for outreach services is still high. “We left with a resolve to work with these communities to ensure they have access to the services they need.”
Federal government urged to go digital
On November 29, 2018, Alex Benay, the Government of Canada’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), and Sandy Kyriakatos, the Chief Data Officer (CDO) for Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) held a discussion in Gatineau, QC, on the Government’s digital future.
In his remarks, CIO Benay argued that the reason countries like Denmark and Estonia are recognized as having some of the most digitally-advanced and effective public services in the world wasn’t because they have bigger budgets or more advanced technology, but because they have the drive and desire to really improve service.
“Those countries had the immediate need and want to innovate. That is what has made them leaders (…) Canada doesn’t really struggle with funding issues or technology holding us back. What holds us back is a resistance to change how we work.”
ESDC CDO Sandy Kyriakatos agreed, urging public servants in attendance to “apply a critical lens” to how they currently serve the public, digitally or otherwise, and find more efficient ways to deliver services.
“Going digital is not a one-size-fits-all scenario, even though many of our processes are designed this way,” Sandy says. “At CDO, we encourage our employees to think differently - form a coalition to challenge process, create new solutions and raise the changes you’d like to see become a reality.”
“Employees are not the box in their classification or level,” Benay told the audience. “You should never feel confined by that. To adopt a more client-centric approach we need to be able to shift our departmental culture with employees leading the charge.”
Two years of service transformation
It’s hard to believe that Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC)’s strategy for improving how Canadians receive federal benefits and services was implemented just over 2 years ago and that the Department is beginning a third year of service transformation.
Looking back at where the organisation was just 2 years ago, it is remarkable how far it has come on its journey to improve services for Canadians and ensure that they are at the heart of service delivery.
That transformation didn’t happen overnight. They began by completing important transformation initiatives that were already well underway in the Department thanks to the hard work of its employees. These included:
- automatically enrolling over a million seniors for Old Age Security
- doubling the number of Service Canada centres offering passport services
- cutting the Employment Insurance wait period in half, from 2 weeks to one
ESDC employees, business experts, and Canadians also worked together like never before to identify service delivery challenges and develop new prototypes and solutions that will allow clients to access our services when, how and where they want.
This new way of working has already yielded results, including:
- launching the Job Bank mobile application, a runaway success with over 49,000 downloads and 600 new downloads per day
- enhancing the Benefits and Services Finder tool
- extending the Video Chat pilot so that hundreds of clients in communities across the country have shorter wait times at Service Canada Centres
- launching a new enhanced toolkit that will help our Client Service Officers connect people in remote communities to the benefits their due
And that’s just to name but a few.
While ESDC has come a long way in the last 2 years, the Department has much more to do in the months and years ahead if it wants to be a nimble, world class service provider that puts you, the client, at the centre of everything it does. For more information on service transformation and the future of service delivery, please follow us on Twitter, watch our Youtube videos, and keep checking in on Improving Services for Canadians.
Milestone: over 1 million automatically enrolled in the Old Age Security program
One of the ways that Canadians have said they want us to improve service delivery is by taking the personal information they have provided to one Government department or agency and using it to automatically enrol them for benefits and services offered by other departments and agencies. We have listened to this feedback and taken action with the Old Age Security benefit.
Since April 2013, over 1 million new Old Age Security (OAS) beneficiaries have been automatically enrolled by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to receive the OAS pension at age 65.
How does automatic enrolment work
- Leverages departmental and Canada Revenue Agency data to identify eligible beneficiaries
- ESDC takes care of the application process on behalf of eligible seniors and automatically enrolls them to receive the OAS pension
- Selected seniors receive a letter from Service Canada notifying them 1 month after their 64th birthday that they will receive their OAS pension 1 month after turning 65
- Selected seniors who have a low income will also be automatically enrolled for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)
- A new integrated application with both the OAS and the GIS on the same form is now available
Seniors not automatically enrolled in the OAS
Seniors who did not receive a letter from Service Canada informing them that they were selected for automatic enrolment must apply in writing to receive the OAS pension.
ESDC continues to make improvements to modernize the way services are delivered to Canadians by streamlining and simplifying our processes and ensure services are delivered to Canadians, how, when and where they want them while ensuring the highest quality of service.
Revamped Benefits and Services Finder
Employment and Social Development Canada is working hard to provide Canadians with the services they need.
We recently upgraded one of our popular tools – the Benefits and Services Finder – in keeping with feedback that we received from end users.
How does it work
The Benefits and Service Finder asks you up to 11 questions. Based on these answers, the tool then bundles the relevant programs and services (when available) across federal/provincial/territorial governments that you are most likely to be eligible for. The resulting list of programs and services is tailored to your circumstances.
How we are making improvements
In keeping with feedback that we received from the public and other end users we have upgraded the tool to give clients:
- faster and easier access to the tool
- the ability to email the resulting benefits and services list to themselves or others
- a feedback option
These changes are generating results. On average, over 100 users get their results emailed to them each week with over 7,000 clicking through to read about their results in more detail.
We will continue making changes to improve client service. Stay tuned for further transformation on the horizon!
The new Job Bank mobile app puts your next job right at your fingertips
Canadians need access to Government resources when and where it is convenient for them. That means providing services that leverage the latest technologies that are popular with our clients.
How we are making improvements
That is why Employment and Social Development Canada has introduced the Job Bank mobile application—the Government of Canada’s next step in their goal to provide Canadians with digital services that work for them.
The app, available on the App Store and Google Play, allows users to search through tens of thousands of good Canadian jobs on their smartphones and create Job Alerts based on their search criteria, letting opportunities come to them.
It also offers:
- easy on-the-go job searching
- customized job searches to meet the needs of applicants across Canada
- use of geo-location to find jobs in a specified local area
- the ability to add jobs to a favourites list for future applications
- a free, secure space to view jobs, and
- a new platform to promote employers’ jobs to thousands of potential employees
The Job Bank app is one of the many ways the Government of Canada is ensuring that Canadians find jobs that work for them.
For more information
To find out more about this new service solution, please watch the Job Bank Mobile App video.
Satellite-in-a-Suitcase brings connectivity to Canadians in remote communities
Citizen Services Specialist Bill Gregory works on the Community Outreach and Liaison Services (COLS) Satellite-in-a-Suitcase team. One of the many teams working on Service Transformation, they were tasked with solving how Service Canada can improve connectivity to Canadians in remote regions.
Understanding who and where these Canadians are, why Services Canada hasn't been reaching them and the barriers preventing them from accessing the same services enjoyed by the majority of Canadians in more populated areas.
The COLS Satellite-in-a-Suitcase team agreed the solution is to equip departmental outreach staff with mobile technology to connect remotely to all of our mobile outreach applications. In other words, provide remote communities with the same access available in any Service Canada Centre (SCC).
How we are making improvements
The team designed software, created a COLS website and a hardware toolkit consisting of a laptop, a tablet for client use, a printer, a cellular hub and a satellite link. Bill took the Satellite-in-a-Suitcase to Iqaluit, Nunavut where he and a colleague successfully issued the first-ever SIN to a Canadian by satellite technology.
The COLS solution team will continue to review the (COLS) Satellite-in-a-Suitcase pilot project results while exploring how Services Canada can continue to improve service to Canadians in remote communities.
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