Plans at a glance

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Official title: Employment and Social Development Canada, 2018–19 Departmental Plan

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Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), which includes the Labour Program and Service Canada, designs and delivers some of the Government’s most well-known programs and services, such as Employment Insurance, Old Age Security and the Canada Pension Plan, making it the face of Government for many Canadians. To fulfill this important responsibility, the Department plans to further increase, enhance and strengthen the many programs and services within its purview. In 2018–19, the Department will deliver on numerous initiatives to help grow the middle class and ensure that families, workers and diverse groups can participate in society, benefit from improved access to a range of services and programs, and be assured that children have a good start in life.

Under the leadership of three ministers—Jean-Yves Duclos (Minister of Families, Children and Social Development), Patricia A. Hajdu (Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour) and Kirsty Duncan (Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities)—ESDC continues to build a stronger and more inclusive Canada, to support Canadians in helping them live productive and rewarding lives and improve their quality of life.

About this Departmental Plan

This Departmental Plan uses the structure of the Departmental Results Framework to discuss how ESDC intends to achieve results under each of the Department’s core responsibilities. All years reference fiscal years beginning April 1 and ending March 31.

ESDC’s five core responsibilities include:

  1. Social development: To increase inclusion and opportunities for Canadians to participate in their communities
  2. Pensions and benefits: To assist Canadians in maintaining income for retirement and provide financial benefits to surviving spouses, people with disabilities and their families
  3. Learning, skills development and employment: To help Canadians access post-secondary education, obtain the skills and training needed to participate in changing labour market, and provide supports to those who are temporarily unemployed
  4. Working conditions and workplace relations: To promote safe, healthy, fair and inclusive work conditions and cooperative workplace relations
  5. Information delivery and services for other departments: To provide information to the public on the programs of the Government of Canada and the Department, and provide services on behalf of other government departments

Delivering on core responsibilities

1. Social development

One of ESDC’s top priorities is to work towards increasing Canadians’ social inclusion, a critical factor in ensuring sustainable and secure development for all, particularly those who are most at risk.

  • A central benchmark of this mandate is the prevention and reduction of homelessness and the availability of affordable housing in Canada. In 2018–19, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will implement Canada’s first-ever National Housing Strategy to increase affordable housing and improve housing conditions on reserves. As part of the National Housing Strategy, a $2.2 billion investment in the Homelessness Partnering Strategy will assist the most vulnerable with access to safe, stable and secure housing
  • ESDC will work on the release of a Poverty Reduction Strategy that sets targets to reduce poverty and aligns with provincial, territorial and municipal strategies and includes a plan to measure and publicly report on progress. In support of the Strategy, Budget 2018 proposes to address key gaps in poverty measurement in Canada, including ensuring that poverty data is inclusive of all Canadians, data on various dimensions of poverty is captured, and that data is robust and timely
  • The Government is committed to increasing the inclusion and participation of Canadians with disabilities by improving accessibility through proactive barrier removal in areas of federal jurisdiction. In 2018, the Government will introduce new federal accessibility legislation that promotes equality of opportunity and increases inclusion and participation of Canadians who have disabilities or functional limitations
  • ESDC is committed to ensuring that community spaces and workplaces are more accessible for those with disabilities. ESDC will invest $77 million over 10 years through the Enabling Accessibility Fund
  • Because an inclusive society acknowledges a diversity of challenges, ESDC will provide additional funding of $5 million in both 2018–19 and 2019–20 via the Social Development Partnerships Program to support projects related to innovation in the service delivery of early learning and child care
  • ESDC is committed to ensuring more high-quality and affordable child care in 2018–19 to help children get the best start in life. ESDC is implementing a Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework through bilateral agreements with each province and territory and is co-developing an Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework with Indigenous peoples. The Department will invest $7.5 billion over 11 years to increase the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity of early learning and child care across the country
  • ESDC’s Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour and Minister of Families, Children and Social Development will continue to consult and engage industry, sector and community leaders to co-create a Social Innovation and Finance Strategy to facilitate new and innovative ways of addressing Canada’s biggest social challenges

2. Pensions and benefits

In 2018–19, ESDC will continue to provide Canadians with financial benefits to help maintain income during retirement and provide surviving spouses and people with disabilities and their families with financial support. This includes:

  • Working closely with Statistics Canada to analyze how seniors’ cost of living differs from the general cost of living for Canadians
  • Beginning January 2019, the enhanced Canada Pension Plan will begin a seven-year phase-in to increase the future retirement, disability and survivor benefits of today’s working Canadians
  • Continuing to deliver the Canada Disability Savings Program, including the Registered Disability Savings Plan, the Canada Disability Savings Grant and the Canada Disability Savings Bond, to assist people with disabilities to achieve long-term financial security
  • Continuing to advance the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security Service Improvement Strategies, as part of the Service Transformation Plan, and improve program integrity to ensure Canadians receive their pensions and benefits in a timely and accurate manner

3. Learning, skills development and employment

A robust, educated and skilled middle class is critical to the social and economic health of Canada. ESDC is committed to growing the middle class by helping Canadians access post-secondary education and obtain the skills and training needed to participate in a changing labour market, and by providing supports to those who are temporarily unemployed through investments and work-related learning.

In 2018–19, ESDC will invest in access to education, training and life-long learning so that Canadians can gain the skills and work experience needed to obtain high-quality jobs:

  • To deliver on this mandate, Budget 2018 committed the Department to work with provinces and territories, the private sector, educational institutions and not-for-profit organizations to launch Future Skills to address and measure skills gaps and life-long learning needs
  • Through investments in the Student Work Integrated Learning program, 10,000 new work placements for post-secondary students will be created
  • An increasing number of graduates and workers will have access to a new Union Training and Innovation Program to address challenges to participation and success in the trades, particularly for women and Indigenous people
  • To help women enter and succeed in the trades, Budget 2018 announced that the Women in Construction Fund will be launched, as well as a new Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for Women pilot initiative. This will be complemented by the introduction of a new pre-apprenticeship program to encourage all Canadians to explore careers in trades, including those from under-represented groups
  • As part of the Skills Boost Initiative, changes are being made to both the Canada Student Loans Program and Employment Insurance program to support adult learners returning to school to upgrade their skills. Changes to the Canada Student Loans Program consist of a three-year pilot project to provide adult learners, who are 10 years out of high school, with a $1,600 top-up grant for each school year they are enrolled in post-secondary education if they qualify for the Canada Student Grant for Full-Time Students and expanded eligibility thresholds for (i) Canada Student Grants for full-time and part-time students with children, and (ii) Canada Student Grants and Canada Student Loans for part-time students. Measures are being implemented in the Employment Insurance program to allow adult learners who have lost their jobs after several years in the workforce to pursue full-time training while maintaining their Employment Insurance status

To achieve its result of increasing access to post-secondary education, particularly for those from low- and middle-income families, in 2018–19 ESDC will:

  • Fund a series of innovative projects that will further increase awareness and take-up of the Canada Learning Bond by targeting hard-to-reach and vulnerable populations, such as Indigenous children and others who face challenges in opening a Registered Education Savings Plan
  • Expand eligibility for Indigenous students by amending the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act to allow students registered under the Indian Act who do not have Canadian citizenship to access Canada Student Loan programs
  • Invest in the Pathways to Education Canada Program to help youth at risk of dropping out of high school

Access to the labour market remains a challenge for Canadian youth, Indigenous people and other under-represented groups. To improve employment rates and access to the labour force and to help those during periods of transition, the Department will work on and implement the following in 2018–19:

  • Improve worker flexibility and adaptability by expanding programs and services under the Labour Market Development Agreements and provide training and employment supports under the newly introduced Workforce Development Agreements
  • Engage partners and stakeholders on the renewal of the Youth Employment Strategy as per the Budget 2018 commitment, and continue to implement the Canada Service Corps to help young Canadians serve their communities while gaining valuable work and life experience
  • Support the continued doubling of the number of job opportunities for youth through Canada Summer Jobs relative to the number of placements in 2015
  • Implement the new Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program to replace the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy. Budget 2018 announced additional investments to support the creation of the new strategy, which will be co-developed with Indigenous partners to provide Indigenous people with increased access to skills development and employment supports to help close the employment and earnings gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people
  • Improve access to Labour Market Information and Job Bank to better connect job seekers and employers in a timely, reliable and comprehensive fashion
  • Implement new measures announced in Budget 2018 under the Employment Insurance program to better support Canadians during life and employment transitions by developing a new Employment Insurance Parental Sharing Benefit and implement a permanent successor to the Working While on Claim pilot project that also includes extension of these rules to claimants of Employment Insurance sickness and maternity benefits
  • Improve and enhance the Temporary Foreign Worker Program by continuing to pilot the Global Talent Stream, reviewing the Primary Agriculture Stream, reviewing sectors that are frequent users of the program and improving the protection of temporary foreign workers

4. Working conditions and workplace relations

With the goal of ensuring workplaces and work conditions are safe, healthy, fair and inclusive, ESDC through the Labour Program will:

  • Continue to enhance safety standards in federally regulated workplaces by implementing an Administrative Monetary Penalty system for those who violate the Canada Labour Code
  • Continue to modernize federal labour standards by updating the Canada Labour Code
  • Provide employees in the federally regulated private sector with a right to request flexible work arrangements
  • Develop a modern fair wages policy with Public Services and Procurement Canada with support from the Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada
  • Eliminate unpaid internships in federally regulated private sectors that are not a part of a formal education program
  • Improve workplace conditions by fostering respect for labour standards in international free trade agreements and through International Labour Organization conventions
  • Improve service delivery by providing timely and quality occupational health and safety and labour standard services, and increase proactive activities with unions and employers to facilitate collective bargaining

With support from Budget 2018, ESDC through the Labour Program will:

  • Continue to move forward with Bill C-65 to ensure that federally regulated workplaces are free from harassment and sexual violence. This includes building awareness of harassment and violence, and providing education and training tools. There will also be an outreach hub to help employees navigate the process and to support employers to put in place policies and processes
  • Amend the Canada Labour Code to provide five days of paid leave to workers in federally regulated workplaces who are victims of family violence or are the parent of a child who is the victim of family violence
  • Propose legislative amendments to the Wage Earner Protection Program to increase payments from four to seven weeks to employees whose employers have gone bankrupt
  • Introduce proactive pay equity legislation for federally regulated workplaces
  • Close the gender wage gap through enhanced pay transparency by federally regulated employers under the Employment Equity Act

In 2018–19, ESDC will improve service delivery by leveraging technology to improve and modernize the delivery of compensation benefits for federal employees injured in the course of their work.

5. Information delivery and services for other departments

ESDC supports the delivery of Government of Canada programs by ensuring that Canadians have the information necessary about available programs and services in both official languages. This includes 1 800 O-Canada and its customized information services, the Canada.ca website, in-person services and the delivery of passports to Canadians.

To ensure clients receive high-quality, timely and accurate government information and services and error-free passports in a timely manner, in 2018–19 the Department will:

  • Provide ongoing operational support to other government departments that have migrated their content and websites to Canada.ca
  • Provide ongoing support to departments that are managing their social media accounts through the Social Media Account Management Service
  • Continue working with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada on modernizing the Passport Program to increase access to services and strengthen the integrity and security of the program to improve efficiency

Our vision for service excellence

Improving and transforming service to Canadians

Service delivery is fundamental to achieving ESDC’s mandate and contributes to the achievement of policy results such as poverty reduction, supporting the middle class and improving accessibility for Canadians.

The Department strives to be a leader in service excellence by delivering services in a way that responds to the evolving needs of its clients, whether it is in person at a Service Canada Centre or through community outreach, on the phone or online.

While each core responsibility in the Departmental Results Framework includes a service improvement component, ESDC’s Service Strategy and Service Transformation Plan cut across all core responsibilities.

The ESDC Service Strategy

To achieve its vision, ESDC has a Service Strategy that seeks to transform how services are delivered to clients, whether individuals, employers or organizations, now and in years to come. The Service Strategy is a flexible and evergreen framework to guide service improvement that will evolve over time to leverage advances in technology and maximize opportunities for collaboration.

As the face of the federal government for many Canadians, ESDC also plays an integral role in government-wide initiatives to improve service results and offer a seamless service experience, including the Government of Canada Service Strategy. Going forward, evolution of the ESDC Service Strategy will be informed by Government of Canada direction, departmental service reviews such as the Employment Insurance Service Quality Review and by listening to and engaging with clients and employees on service transformation.

As the service delivery landscape shifts with rapid advancements in technology, Canadians increasingly expect easy-to-access, simple and secure services. In line with the Service Strategy and Service Transformation Plan, ESDC will enhance Grant and Contribution accessibility and will standardize guidance, training and business expertise so that delivery across programs and regions is more consistent and timely. In addition, ESDC will modernize tools accessed by employers and organizations such as the online submission of the Labour Market Impact Assessment for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and internal tools to support the streamlined processing of Work-Sharing Agreements.

Service Transformation Plan

To achieve the goals and commitments of the Government of Canada and ESDC Service Strategies, and the recommendations from the Employment Insurance Service Quality Review, the Department launched the Service Transformation Plan. This plan serves as the roadmap for the transformation and modernization of ESDC’s services and advances its vision for improved service delivery.

The Plan was co-developed with Canadians and employees across the Department to deliver real solutions of high value to Canadians as quickly as possible. The solutions within the plan address the issues the Department and clients identified as most worth solving. These solutions will strengthen the Department’s capacity to meet clients’ service needs and expectations. The solutions will lead the Department towards a future state that is defined by the following four dimensions of client service excellence:

Dimensions Experience Quality Timeliness Access
What clients will get in future A world-class experience delivering benefits when clients need them with an emphasis on digital self-service Provide high-quality, accurate services and decisions to Canadians, no matter where they live and, when possible, have their needs anticipated Benefits and services are delivered in a timely fashion and issues are resolved the first time clients contact us 100% accessibility, with digital by choice everywhere and received by a well-equipped knowledgeable workforce

The current commitments identified in the Plan are within the Department’s existing authorities (e.g. legislative and regulatory frameworks) to deliver concrete results to Canadians and employees as early as in the next 12 to 18 months. Concurrently, the Department is identifying medium-term and long-term solutions to transform service delivery. This approach will also allow the Department to leverage short-term results to support other transformational initiatives that will modernize the service experience in the medium-term (18-36 months), long-term (3-5 years) and beyond.

In 2018–19, critical horizontal service improvements being advanced that cut across Core Responsibilities include:

  • The Hosted Contact Centre Solution: In 2018–19, the Department will continue consulting with other government departments and the private sector to prepare for the migration of Specialized Call Centres to a new Hosted Contact Centre Solution platform. It will also engage with clients and employees on the redesign of the Interactive Voice Response systems and the proposed automated self-serve and navigation menu for Specialized Call Centres
  • Benefits Delivery Modernization: Through the modernization of service delivery of benefits, the Government will improve Canadians’ access to services and benefits, including accelerating application processes. This program targets a complete business process and technology renewal for Employment Insurance, Old Age Security and the Canada Pension Plan to truly transform the way benefits are delivered, offering an enhanced service experience that is informed by meaningful engagement and prototyping with clients and staff. In 2018–19, Benefits Delivery Modernization will be leading foundational projects to ensure implementation readiness for the first tranche of the program

Integrated Service Management Agenda

An Integrated Service Management function has been established within the Department that will define the operational context and enabling environment for a successful implementation of the Service Transformation Plan. The agenda aims to establish a new departmental culture and way of operating to ensure service delivery is managed holistically. In 2018–19, ESDC will focus on implementing initiatives related to integrated resource planning, integrated workload management and integrated view of all operations.

Service Standard Review

As a part of its commitments to improve services to Canadians, the Government of Canada is assessing its service standards to ensure that they are comprehensive and meaningful. Among its initial achievements, ESDC has implemented improved service standards for new clients applying for Canada Pension Plan disability benefits. Since their implementation in October 2016, the new and revised service standards have significantly committed to enhancing the delivery of Canada Pension Plan disability benefits, particularly for clients with a terminal illness or a grave condition. In 2017–18, the Department undertook service standard reviews related to the delivery of Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security programs. In 2018–19, the Department’s focus will shift to developing an implementation roadmap to guide next steps. Future work to review ESDC service standards will be driven by these efforts.

Making the Social Security Tribunal client-centric

Reporting to the Minister of Employment and Social Development /Families, Children and Social Development, the Social Security Tribunal was created on April 1, 2013, to review appeals of decisions relating to the Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security programs. In March 2017, the Minister announced that the Social Security Tribunal would undergo a review to ensure it remains relevant in meeting the needs and expectations of Canadians.

Following receipt of the review report in January 2018, the Minister committed to making significant and meaningful changes to the recourse process that would include placing Canadians at the heart of the process and providing a recourse process which is client-centric, faster and simpler. Stakeholders will have a role in shaping the renewal of the recourse process through their continued engagement as changes are explored and implemented. The action plan will be publicly released and ESDC will report on progress.

Increasing access to the Canada Child Benefit and other benefits

Indigenous people, in particular those living in remote and northern communities, face distinct barriers when it comes to accessing federal benefits such as the Canada Child Benefit. To help Indigenous people access the full range of federal social benefits, the Government will expand outreach efforts to Indigenous communities and conduct pilot outreach activities for urban Indigenous people.

International engagement

G7 Leaders’ Summit

ESDC’s international engagement advances the Government of Canada’s foreign policy priorities and international obligations. Canada officially assumed the G7 Presidency on January 1, 2018. In advance of the G7 Leaders’ Summit, which will be held on June 8-9, 2018, a series of Ministerial meetings will take place. ESDC is working closely with Global Affairs Canada and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, and other departments as appropriate, in the lead up to a G7 Innovation and Employment Ministerial meeting on Preparing for the Jobs of the Future.

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Social Policy Forum

ESDC is also working closely with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to organize the OECD Social Policy Forum and Ministerial Meeting entitled Social Policy for Shared Prosperity: Embracing the Future, to be chaired by Canada and held in Montréal on May 14-15, 2018. A high-level Policy Forum under the same theme will precede the Ministerial meeting.

International Labour Affairs

The Labour Program of ESDC manages Canada’s international labour affairs, including trade-related international labour agreements. Ongoing negotiations, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), with India, the Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru) and MERCOSUR (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay), will continue to be priorities in 2018. Other significant negotiations could be launched in 2018, including with China. In addition, the Labour Program manages a Grants and Contributions program that seeks to address the labour dimensions of international trade and economic integration through technical assistance projects that will continue to run or will be launched in 2018. It also represents Canada at the International Labour Organization where international labour standards are negotiated and adopted, and in multilateral forums where labour matters are discussed. Currently, the Labour Program is working with Canada at the International Labour Organization on a new instrument to address violence and harassment in the workplace.

For more information on ESDC’s plans, priorities and planned results, see the “Planned results” section of this report.

For more information on the Department’s organizational mandate letter commitments, see the Minister’s mandate letter on the Prime Minister of Canada’s website.Endnote i

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