Modernizing services for Canadians

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Overall summary

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) delivers benefits to Canadians throughout their lives. Our key services include Old Age Security (OAS), Canadian Pension Plan (CPP), Employment Insurance (EI) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). To prepare for the future, ESDC is improving its core systems, enhancing its online services, and expanding efforts to reach all Canadians.

Alternate formats

Modernizing services for Canadians (complete version) [PDF – 652 KB]

Current state of service at ESDC

Figure 1: Current state of service at ESDC
Figure 1 – Text version

Employment and Social Development Canada delivers 38 services, supporting Canadians at all stages in their lives.

In 2018 to 2019, we delivered $122 billion1 in direct benefits to Canadians, representing 5.5% of Canada's GDP in 2018 to 2019. This included, among others, $53.4 billion in OAS and GIS, $46.5 billion in CPP benefits, and $16.6 billion in EI benefits.

Canadians can access our services online, over the phone, and at our offices.
Channel Interaction points Traffic in 2018 to 2019
Online 530M visits, including 95M visits to ESDC webpages
Online EI online application 2.7M applications for EI Benefits
Online My Service Canada Account (MSCA) 135,000 applications for CPP retirement benefits through MSCA
Online Canada Student Loans Program portal2 275,000 (99%) of full-time students validated their identity and submitted their grant/loan agreements online in 2018 to 2019
Phone 1-800 O-Canada 1.58M General inquiry calls were answered in 2018 to 2019
Phone Specialized calls3 27.2M calls to ESDC specialized call centres in 2018 to 2019
Office In-person visits 10.4M visits to 349 Service Canada and Passport Services Centres in 2018 to 2019

The top issues for clients experiencing problems were:

  • Application was too long or too complicated
  • Online Information was confusing
  • Took too long to provide benefit or decision

1$122B is comprised of statutory payments made directly to Canadians as well as programs providing benefits to Canadians through grants and contributions.

2Delivered by the National Student Loans Service Centre, a 3rd party service provider.

3Calls include those answered by agents or resolved in the interactive voice response (IVR) phone system for EI, CPP, OAS and Passport call centres.

Renewing our core systems4

Figure 2: Renewing our core systems
Figure 2 – Text version

Our major IT systems are aging and creating risk of service interruptions.

  • OAS runs on a 56-year old legacy system
  • Some components of CPP are over 20 years old
  • EI uses over 150 IT solutions built over 47 years

Program changes overburden already stressed IT systems; increasing costs, delaying processing and often creating more manual work. These changes can put pressure on our systems by necessitating complicated system changes, complex benefits calculations, and more hands-on work by staff.

The number of pension beneficiaries will increase by nearly 50% by 2030, increasing operational workloads.

Year 2020 2025 2030
Projected OAS Beneficiaries (m) 6.683 8.001 9.283
Projected CPP Beneficiaries (m) 6.377 7.557 8.52

We are stabilizing vulnerable OAS systems in the short term and a longer term transformation is already underway, including building a new system to deliver major benefits.

We plan to migrate CPP, EI, and OAS over to a new, single platform.

4Canada Student Loans Program, through its 3rd party service provider, also continues to move towards a more online service model.

More, better online services

Figure 3: More, better online services
Figure 3 – Text version

Current approaches to digital services have demonstrated results

  • 99% of EI applications were submitted online in 2018 to 2019
  • 50% of eligible seniors are automatically enrolled for OAS benefits in 2019. Over 1.1 million seniors have been auto-enrolled since 2013
  • 47% of the major services delivered by ESDC can be fully carried out using online self-service in 2018 to 2019

Getting to better, faster service means balancing privacy and convenience

  • 69% of Canadians agree that online is the most convenient channel to access services
  • 66% of Canadians want to be able to submit information once and have it shared across departments
  • 69% of Canadians are concerned about privacy and security of their personal information

We are modernizing our services through:

  • More options for online self-service
  • Secure, two-way online communication between the Department and clients
  • Automatic enrolment for more programs and services

…but our aging IT is limiting progress.

Reaching all Canadians

Figure 4: Reaching all Canadians
Figure 4 – Text version

Currently, program uptake by eligible Canadians is uneven.

Take-up of select programs, 2019
Program Take-up
OAS 97%
GIS 94%
Canada Child Benefit (CCB) 97%
CCB – On reserve 79%
Canada Learning Bond 38%
Canada Disability Savings Program 31%

Canadians most likely to miss out on benefits include:

  • Indigenous families living on reserve or in remote locations
  • Low-income seniors
  • Low-income families
  • People with disabilities

We are increasing client uptake through:

  • Proactively contacting potential recipients
  • Expanding partnerships with other organizations to reach more Canadians directly
  • Simplifying forms and application processes
  • Bundling services for life events (for example, birth)
  • Making our services more accessible in person, online, and over the phone

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