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

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Who we are and what we do

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 to improve 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 engages millions of Canadians each year to provide a range of government services and information online, by phone and in person.

To fulfill its mission, the Department is responsible for:

  • developing policies that ensure all Canadians 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 and 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 peoples, 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 for other departments and agencies, such as Passport services delivered on behalf of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and services to veterans delivered for Veterans Affairs Canada.

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 Delivery Highlights

  • 82.2% of EI benefit payments or non-payment notifications issued within 28 days of filing
  • 67.3% of request for reconsideration decisions finalized within 30 days from the request being received
  • 87.3% of OAS basic benefits paid within the first month of entitlement
  • 95.8% of CPP retirement benefits paid within the first month of entitlement
  • 77.4% of CPP Disability initial application decisions made within 120 calendar days of receipt of a completed application
  • 73.2% of EI, 69.8% of CPP, 69.8% of OAS and 96.7% of Employer Contact Centre calls answered by an agent
  • 95.8% payment accuracy for EI
  • 99.8% payment accuracy for CPP
  • 97.8% payment accuracy for OAS
  • 87% of grants and contributions proposals acknowledged within 21 calendar days of receiving an application package*
  • 92% of contribution payments processed within 28 calendar days of receiving a completed claim package 92% of first installment grant payments processed no later than 15 calendar days after the approved project start date**
  • 99% 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.

How Service Canada regions work to carry out ESDC’s mandate:

Service Canada regions support key government commitments and respond to the unique service delivery needs of citizens in the areas they serve. As of March 31, 2018, the regional network comprised 590 in-person service points across the country, including:

  • 320 Service Canada Centres*
  • 238 Scheduled Outreach Sites; and
  • 32 Service Canada Centre-Passport Service sites.
Figure 1: Points of Service as of March 31, 2018
Figure 1: Points of Service as of March 31, 2018

*This includes two consolidated sites. Consolidated sites refer to Service Canada Centres that offer the full range of government services and benefits, including passport services.

Description of figure 1

Map of Canada that shows 590 in person points of service across the country as of March 2018.

  • 320 Service Canada Centres
  • 238 Scheduled Outreach Sites
  • 32 Service Canada Centre – Passport Service Sites
  • Total sites: 590

Western Canada and territories

  • 97 Service Canada Centres
  • 117 Scheduled Outreach Sites
  • 10 Service Canada Centre – Passport Service sites
  • Total sites: 224


  • 91 Service Canada Centres
  • 76 Scheduled Outreach Sites
  • 13 Service Canada Centre – Passport Service sites
  • Total sites: 180


  • 75 Service Canada Centres
  • 18 Scheduled Outreach Sites
  • 6 Service Canada Centre – Passport Service sites
  • Total sites: 99


  • 75 Service Canada Centres
  • 18 Scheduled Outreach Sites
  • 6 Service Canada Centre – Passport Service sites
  • Total sites: 87

For more general information about the department, see the “Supplementary information” section of this report.

For more information on the department’s organizational mandate letter commitments, see the Ministers’ mandate lettersFootnote 1.

Our Organization: Highlighting the work of our regional offices

Service Canada regions support the Department 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, Passport offices, outreach services, specialized call centres and processing centres. Of note, staff travel to pre-determined locations, typically in rural or remote areas that are otherwise underserved, to answer questions, guide clients through online services and forms, and help clients identity services and benefits available to them. As of March 31, 2018, there were 238 scheduled outreach sites.

Regional offices also manage quality assurance and compliance services, business expertise and management services for most of the Department’s programs. To achieve excellence and efficiency in the delivery of services, the regional offices work with local communities, other levels of government, Members of Parliament and external stakeholders.

Some examples of regional work that improved quality, timeliness, and accuracy of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) services in 2017-2018 included:

Western Canada and Territories Region

  • Launched a video chat pilot in Manitoba where clients visiting high-volume Service Canada Centres have the option to receive services from a Citizen Services Officer located in a lower-volume Service Canada Centre. Further supporting virtual services, the Region piloted Virtual Group Claimant Information Sessions to help EI regular benefit claimants access tools to re-enter the labour market.
  • Expanded the Service Delivery Partnership with the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) where GNWT employees provide services on behalf of Service Canada. Additionally, collaborated with British Columbia’s Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction to manage a backlog of individuals who may be eligible for Canada Pension Plan disability benefits.

Ontario Region

  • Conducted Community Outreach and Liaison Service visits through a proactive, flexible, collaborative and responsive approach, partnering with federal and provincial partners to meet the unique needs of our most vulnerable clients in urban, rural and northern communities. Established a co-located Service Canada and ServiceOntario site in the town of Picton to allow more seamless access to these services.
  • Established the Ontario Region’s Inclusivity Service Advisory Network made up of stakeholders and clients with disabilities to improve accessibility of ESDC services.

Quebec Region

  • Improved foreign students’ access to SINs by holding mobile clinics at Montréal universities through which 1,585 SINs were issued to students.
  • Posted wait times online for Passport offices in the greater Montréal area.

Atlantic Region

  • Partnered with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to offer financial compensation to fishers affected by -extreme ice conditions off the coast of Newfoundland and Quebec. The Ice Assistance Emergency Program compensated 572 clients.
  • Implemented and expanded video chat services to better support rural and remote service offerings and ongoing service expansion. Also introduced the Community Outreach and Liaison Services with a focus on Indigenous communities.
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