Raison d’être, mandate and role: Who we are and what we do

Official title: ESDC 2017-2018 Departmental Plan

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Raison d'être

The mission of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), including the Labour Program and Service Canada, is to build a stronger and more inclusive Canada, to support Canadians in helping them live productive and rewarding lives and improving Canadians' quality of life.

Mandate and role

ESDC delivers a range of programs and services that affect Canadians throughout their lives. The Department provides seniors with basic income security, supports unemployed workers, helps students finance their post-secondary education and assists parents who are raising young children. The Labour Program contributes to social and economic well-being by fostering safe, healthy, fair and inclusive work environments and cooperative workplace relations in the federal jurisdiction. Service Canada helps citizens access ESDC's programs, as well as other Government of Canada programs and services.

In particular, the Department is responsible for delivering over $120 billion in benefits directly to individuals and organizations through such Government of Canada programs and services as Employment Insurance, Old Age Security, the Canada Pension Plan and the Canada Student Loans Program. The Department also provides $1.8 billion in funding to other orders of government, educators and organizations in the voluntary and private sectors.

To fulfill its mission, the Department is responsible for:

  • developing policies that ensure all can use their talents, skills and resources to participate in learning, work and their community;
  • delivering programs that help Canadians move through life's transitions, from school to work, from one job to another, from unemployment to employment, from the workforce to retirement;
  • providing income support to seniors, families with children and Employment Insurance beneficiaries;
  • fostering inclusive growth by providing opportunity and assistance to Canadians with distinct needs, such as Indigenous people, people with disabilities, homeless people and recent immigrants;
  • overseeing labour relations, occupational health and safety, labour standards, employment equity and workers' compensation in the federal jurisdiction; and
  • delivering programs and services on behalf of other departments and agencies, such as passport services delivered on behalf of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and services to veterans delivered on behalf of Veterans Affairs Canada.

ESDC assisted millions of Canadians in 2015-2016

  • There were 78.5 million visits to the Service Canada website.
  • Over 2 million calls were answered by 1 800 O-Canada agents.
  • There were 8.7 million in-person visits to Service Canada Centres.
  • 4.6 million passports were issued.
  • 2.95 million applications were processed for Employment Insurance (initial and renewal); 690,000 for the Canada Pension Plan; 775,000 for Old Age Security.
  • 24.7 million payments were issued for Employment Insurance (initial and renewal); 64.4 million for the Canada Pension Plan; 68.5 million for Old Age Security.
  • 18.6 million Employment Insurance enquiries and 3.3 million enquiries related to the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security were resolved in the Interactive Voice Response system.
  • Service Canada Call Centre agents answered 3.4 million Employment Insurance calls, 2.5 million Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security calls and 500,000 calls related to employer services.
  • 640,000 full-time post-secondary students received federal student financial assistance, which includes students who received a Canada Student Loan, a Canada Student Grant and/or those who benefited from an in-study interest subsidy.
  • $3.27 billion was withdrawn from Registered Education Savings Plans for 395,027 students to help fund their post-secondary education.
  • 94 percent of labour disputes in federally regulated workplaces were settled without a work stoppage as part of the collective bargaining process.
  • 98.9 percent of initial Wage Earner Protection Program payments and non-payment notifications were issued within the 42-day service standard.

Included in these core roles are responsibilities for the design and delivery of some well-known Government of Canada programs and services:

  • Old Age Security;
  • the Canada Pension Plan;
  • Employment Insurance;
  • the Canada Student Loans and Grants and Canada Apprentice Loans Program;
  • the Canada Education Savings Program;
  • the Wage Earner Protection Program; and
  • passport services.

Service standards

For 2017-2018, the following are our key service commitments:

  • 80% of EI benefit payments or non-payment notifications issued within 28 days of filing
  • 90% of OAS basic benefits paid within the first month of entitlement
  • 90% of CPP retirement benefits paid within the first month of entitlement
  • 80% of CPP Disability initial application decisions made within 120 calendar days of receipt of a completed application
  • 80% of EI, CPP, OAS and Employer Contact Centre calls answered by an agent within 10 minutes
  • 95% payment accuracy for EI, CPP and OAS
  • 90% of grants and contributions proposals are acknowledged within 21 calendar days of receiving an application package
  • 90% of contribution payments are processed within 28 calendar days of receiving a completed claim package
  • 90% of first installment grant payments processed no later than 15 calendar days after the approved project start date
  • 90% of passports issued on time

Direct benefits to Canadians are part of Canada's social safety net and represent 95 percent of the Department's expenditures.

Through the Labour Program, the Department contributes to the well-being of working Canadians by providing labour relations mediation services, enforcing minimum working conditions, promoting decent work and fostering respect for international labour standards.

Through Service Canada, the Department helps Canadians access departmental programs as well as other Government of Canada programs and services at 589 in-person points of service across the country (555 Service Canada points of service, 2 consolidated offices with a Passport office and 32 stand-alone Passport offices). In addition to in-person services, the organization also serves the needs of Canadians online at Canada.ca, through My Service Canada Account and by telephone through 1 800 O-Canada and its network of call centres.

Points of service as of March 31, 2016
figure: Points of service as of March 31, 2016
Text description of the figure: Points of service as of March 31, 2016


  • 320 Service Canada centres, includes 2 consolidated offices
  • 237 outreach sites
  • 32 stand-alone passport offices
  • Total sites: 589

Western Canada and territories

  • 97 Service Canada centres
  • 116 outreach sites
  • 10 stand-alone passport offices + 1 co-located
  • Total sites: 223


  • 91 Service Canada centres
  • 76 outreach sites
  • 13 stand-alone passport offices
  • Total sites:180


  • 75 Service Canada centres
  • 18 outreach sites
  • 6 Stand-alone passport offices + 1 co-located
  • Total sites: 99


  • 57 Service Canada centres
  • 27 outreach sites
  • 3 stand-alone passport offices
  • Total sites: 87

Finally, through grants and contributions, the Department provides funding to other orders of government and organizations in the voluntary and private sectors, educators and community organizations to support projects that meet the labour market and social development needs of Canadians.

Our organization: Highlighting the work of our regional offices

Service Canada regions support the Department and the Government in delivering on key commitments and in responding to the unique service delivery needs of citizens in the areas they serve. Regional offices are critical to the delivery of the Department's services, operating an extensive network of Service Canada Centres and outreach clinics throughout the country. Service is also provided to clients in the regions through specialized call centres and processing centres. Quality assurance and compliance services, business expertise and management services for most of the Department's programs are also managed through our regional offices. To achieve excellence and efficiency in the delivery of services, the regions work with local communities, other levels of government, Members of Parliament and external stakeholders. Although the main focus of our regional service delivery network is the day-to-day operations of serving Canadians, the regions are uniquely placed to pursue collaboration with local partners and other levels of government. Some examples of our regional collaborative work include the following:

Partnerships to deliver improved services to remote and Indigenous communities

Multiple levels of government in Ontario collaborated to create the Indigenous Peoples Network, which resulted in the establishment of the Northern Ontario Remote Community Access (NORCA) Initiative to support access to programs and services, as well as promoting digital inclusion in Indigenous communities. The Northern Strategy in the Western and Territories Region will build on the collection of economic and social data to better respond to the needs of remote and Indigenous communities. The Atlantic Region has established partnerships with the Indigenous community and other federal departments to broaden the services available to several remote communities in Labrador. Similarly, Quebec regional staff carried out an outreach services tour in 2016-2017, in concert with the Kativik Regional Government, to all 14 northern viIlages under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and related legislation to enhance access to federal services by the northernmost, mostly Inuit population.

A pilot project with the Government of Northwest Territories will provide a range of general Government of Canada services to clients in remote locations where Service Canada has traditionally had a limited presence. Services will be offered in local dialects where needed. This pilot will ensure that difficult-to-reach locations will have access to information on programs and services on a regular basis.

Leveraging the Service Canada presence throughout Canada to respond to the unique needs of Canadians

Service Canada regions are also collaborating with local partners and stakeholders to conduct emergency management exercises and prepare mitigation plans in case emergency situations arise. The Fort McMurray response and the Canadian response to the Syrian refugee crisis are good examples of how multiple federal and provincial partners collaborated to support Canadians in need and facilitate newcomer resettlement.

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