Organizational priorities

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Strategic Direction: Develop economic and social policies and programs that support and improve the well-being of families, children and vulnerable groups.

Priority 1: Strengthen income security programs and services, and work with provinces and territories in reducing poverty.

Key Supporting Initiatives
Planned Initiatives Status Link to information within the document
Poverty Reduction Strategy The Department undertook a nationwide consultation process to support the development of the Poverty Reduction Strategy. ESDC also hosted a National Poverty Conference which brought together academics, Canadians with lived experience of poverty and other key stakeholders to discuss the results of the national consultations. What We Heard About Poverty So FarFootnote 1 – a summary of what Canadians said they want to see in the Poverty Reduction Strategy was released on February 20, 2018. The feedback and suggestions received are informing the development of the Strategy. Strategies for families, children and vulnerable groups
Enhance the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) (lead: Department of Finance) Canada’s Finance Ministers agreed to a package of Canada Pension Plan reforms that will increase the support for young widows and widowers, individuals with disabilities, the families of lower-income workers and parents who take time out of the workforce to care for young children. As departments responsible for delivering the CPP, ESDC in collaboration with Canada Revenue Agency and Retraite Quebec, continue to support the organizational change required to ensure a successful implementation of the CPP enhancements.  Income Security
National Seniors Council A new Chairperson and four new members of the Council were appointed through a transparent and merit-based Governor in Council appointment process. Social Development
Develop a new mechanism to ensure Old Age Security benefits keep pace with the cost of living seniors face The Department worked in close collaboration with Statistics Canada to assess if the cost of living faced by seniors differs from that of the general population. Income Security

Priority 2: Develop social policy initiatives that address the needs of families and of vulnerable groups, support communities in the development of social infrastructure, and advance solutions to social issues through innovative approaches.

Key Supporting Initiatives
Planned Initiatives Status Link to Information within the document
Early Learning and Child Care (including Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care) The Department worked with provincial and territorial governments to reach a historic agreement on a Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework. Departmental expenditures for ELCC were $400 million. Bilateral agreements have been signed with all provinces and territories. ESDC also worked with Indigenous partners to co‑develop an Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework that reflects the unique cultures and needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and families across Canada. Strategies for families, children and vulnerable groups
Tackling homelessness Budget 2016 provided an additional $111.8 million over two fiscal years (2016–17 and 2017–18) for the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) including $12.5 million over two years for the Innovative Solutions to Homelessness initiative to enable communities across Canada to bolster their efforts in tackling homelessness.
Building upon investments announced in Budgets 2016 and 2017, the National Housing Strategy, a 10-year, $40-billion plan, provides $2.2 billion to the HPS, which will give more Canadians a place to call home. All HPS agreements were amended in 2017–2018 to enable communities to maintain expanded efforts throughout the 2018–19 fiscal year, in advance of the planned launch of a renewed federal homelessness program on April 1, 2019.
Social Development
Enabling Accessibility Fund Over 600 Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) projects were funded across the country.
The program took targeted actions to increase uptake from northern Canada through promotional activities and by making adjustments to funding parameters. As a result, 15 projects from northern Canada were approved for funding in 2017–18, compared to 8 projects funded across the seven previous calls for proposals combined.
In addition, nine youth-driven projects were funded, enabling youth to have a direct impact in the lives of people with disabilities.
Social Development
Breaking down barriers to social and economic inclusion for people with disabilities The Department worked to review the Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability component with the goal of designing and implementing a Performance and Accountability Framework. Social Development
Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy The Department led an engagement process with stakeholders to develop recommendations for a Social Innovation and Social Finance (SI/SF) Strategy. Based on the findings of the consultations, the implementation of the SI/SF Strategy will ensure key stakeholder groups are involved in the design and implementation of subsequent initiatives. Social Development
Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act The Department developed Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act: An Act to Ensure a Barrier-free Canada (subsequently introduced in Parliament in June 2018). The purpose of the Bill is to benefit all persons, especially persons with disabilities, through the progressive realization of a Canada without barriers. Strategies for families, children and vulnerable groups

Strategic Direction: Transform employment, workforce development and labour policies and programs to address the needs of all Canadians, and support inclusion.

Priority 3: Develop and implement policies, programs and services that support workers and employers, and work with provinces and territories to respond to the evolving realities of the labour market and federally regulated workplaces of today and the future.

Key Supporting Initiatives
Planned Initiatives Status Link to Information within the document
Promote good-quality jobs Engagement activities were held between spring 2017 and winter 2018 in support of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour’s mandate letter commitment to ensure that Canadians continue to have a robust and modern set of federal labour standards. A What We Heard ReportFootnote 2 summarizing the results of these engagement activities was published on ESDC’s website on August 30, 2018. Labour
Ensure federal workplaces are free of harassment and sexual violence Bill C-65, An Act to Amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, and the Budget Implementation Act 2017, No.1 was introduced in the House of Commons on November 7, 2 017. The Bill proposes to amend the Canada Labour Code to create a single harassment and violence regime across all federally regulated workplaces, and to bring occupational health and safety coverage to Parliamentary employees.
In Budget 2018, the Government committed to providing $34.9 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, with $7.4 million per year ongoing, to support the initiatives set out in Bill C-65.
A consultation strategy to inform the drafting of Harassment and Violence Prevention regulations was developed in 2017-18 and was launched in July 2018.
Implement a modern fair wages policy A modern fair wages policy would establish a fair level of compensation for individuals working on federal government contracts and support the creation of well-paying middle‑class jobs. The Government is considering options for a modern fair wages policy to be in place before the end of 2019. Labour
Support fairness at work by developing options for proactive pay equity The Department is working on a proactive pay equity regime that will contribute to reducing the gender wage gap for federally regulated private and public sector employers. Labour
Propose amendments to the Canada Labour Code to allow workers to formally request flexible work arrangements and new leaves of absence The Canada Labour Code was amended to give employees in the federally regulated private sector the right to request flexible work arrangements from their employer, such as: flexible start and finish times and the ability to work from home; new unpaid leaves for family responsibilities, to participate in traditional Indigenous practices and to seek care if they are victims of family violence; and more flexible bereavement leave. Regulations are underway to give effect to these amendments. Labour
Reduce the availability of unpaid internships The Canada Labour Code was amended to prohibit unpaid internships in the federally regulated private sector that are not part of a formal educational program and ensure that unpaid interns whose internship is part of a formal educational program are entitled to labour standard protections. Regulations are underway to give effect to these amendments. Labour
Support timely passage of Bill C-4 to help restore a fair and balanced approach to labour relations On June 19, 2017, Bill C-4 was enacted, amending three federal labour relations statutes (i.e. the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Labour Relations Act) to restore the card check union certification and decertification system that existed under these Acts prior to the coming into force of Bill C-525 (Employees’ Voting Rights Act) on June 16, 2015. Bill C-4 also amended the Income Tax Act to repeal the financial reporting requirements for labour organizations and labour trusts and the offence in case of non-compliance imposed by Bill C-377 (an Act to amend the Income Tax Act (requirements for labour organizations). Labour
Review the Temporary Foreign Worker Program The Department advanced the Path Forward to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). ESDC launched the TFWP Quality Monitoring program, and streamlined processes for employers seeking to replace or transfer agricultural workers in-season, to ensure responsiveness to Canadian labour market needs. The Department also enhanced employer recruitment requirements for the TFWP and implemented a risk-based model for employer inspection as well as improving the processing of Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) processing by launching the TFW Program Quality Monitoring program. Skills and Employment
Determine an approach for improving apprentices’ outcomes through infrastructure investments The Department worked with Infrastructure Canada (INFC), employers and workers to develop a target for hiring apprentices on federal infrastructure projects. This led to the inclusion of the Community Employment Benefit initiative in INFC agreements with provinces and territories for infrastructure investments. Skills and Employment
Provide more inclusive and flexible leave for caregivers The Department implemented changes to make Employment Insurance benefits for caregivers and corresponding leaves under the Canada Labour Code more flexible and inclusive and easier to access Skills and Employment
Provide more flexible parental benefits More flexible Employment Insurance maternity and parental benefits and corresponding leaves under the Canada Labour Code became available on December 3, 2017. Parents can choose between two options: standard parental benefits or extended parental benefits. Skills and Employment
Improve labour market information for Canadians, including work with the Labour Market Information Council The Department actively participated in the implementation of the Labour Market Information Council Board’s governance, including the creation of the National Stakeholder Advisory Panel and Labour Market Information Experts Panel. Skills and Employment

Priority 4: Strengthen training and access to post-secondary education and support individuals, including youth and those from vulnerable groups, in acquiring the skills and information they need to participate in the labour market.

Key Supporting Initiatives
Planned Initiatives Status Link to Information within the document
Develop the Canada Service Corps (formerly known as the Youth Service Initiative) The Department began the process of co-creating the Canada Service Corps program with youth, using methods rooted in design thinking and the work of the ESDC Innovation Lab. It is currently implementing the design phase of the program and engaging with youth across Canada to ensure the national program is effective, sustainable and accessible. Skills and Employment
Roll out the Student Work Placement Program (formerly known as the Student Work Integrated Learning Program) The Student Work Placement program (formerly known as Student Work-Integrated Learning Program) supported the creation of co-op placements for students in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and business programs in partnership with employers and post-secondary education institutions. Skills and Employment
Rationalize and expand intergovernmental agreements that support skills training The Department worked with provinces and territories to consolidate three transfer agreements (the Canada Job Fund, the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities and the former Targeted Initiative for Older Workers) into the new Workforce Development Agreements and renewed LMDAs. Skills and Employment
Renew and improve the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy Budget 2017 provided an additional $50 million for ASETS in 2017-18. Funding was provided to increase the capacity of service providers to meet the growing demand from Indigenous peoples for skills development and job training. Skills and Employment
Develop a framework to support union-based apprenticeship training, innovation and enhanced partnerships The Department launched the new Union Training and Innovation Program to support unions to purchase up-to-date training equipment and support innovative approaches to improve apprenticeship outcomes. Skills and Employment
Promote economic development in Indigenous communities and create jobs for Indigenous peoples The Department collaborated with Indigenous communities and other federal and provincial partners to improve and increase Indigenous economic development opportunities. As part of these efforts, ESDC funded 50 new Skills and Partnership Fund projects that address skills shortages and help Indigenous people find employment. The Department also allocated $44.3 million to Indigenous child care centres for repairs and renovations. Skills and Employment
Increase investment in the Youth Employment Strategy informed by findings of the Expert Panel on Youth Employment The Department continued to engage key partners and stakeholders in preparatory work to develop a modernized Youth Employment Strategy that is more responsive to evolving needs, informed by the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Youth Employment. Skills and Employment
Introduce a fixed student contribution for Canada Student Loans and Grants The Department implemented the fixed student contribution based on family income and family size which allows students to gain work experience without worrying about their financial assistance being reduced. Learning
Improve promotion of Registered Education Savings Plans and the Canada Learning Bond Through collaborating with a range of partners and stakeholders, including provinces, territories, and Indigenous peoples, the Department worked to increase awareness and promote the benefits of early savings through Registered Education Savings Plans and the Canada Learning Bond so that families take full advantage of government education savings incentives. Experimentation – with messaging that leveraged Behavioural Insights expertise at the ESDC Innovation Lab – was used to inform improvement of departmental outreach. Learning
Ease access to the Canada Learning Bond Amendments to the Canada Education Savings Act made it easier for the cohabitating spouse or common-law partner of a child’s primary caregiver to request the education savings incentives. Learning
Introduce increased Canada Student Grant thresholds The Canada Student Grant for Students from Low-Income Families and the Canada Student Grant for Students from Middle-Income Families were replaced by the Canada Student Grant for Full-Time Students. The new Grant is based on a more generous and progressive threshold under which grant amounts will gradually decline based on income and family size. As a result, more students will be eligible for more non-repayable grant funding and no student will receive less than what they would have received before. Learning

Strategic Direction: Design and deliver client-focused, convenient and secure services.

Priority 5: Develop and implement digital tools and automate processes wherever possible across all Employment and Social Development Canada services so Canadians have timely, accurate and responsive access to the information they need and can access all services using digital self-service.

Key Supporting Initiatives
Planned Initiatives Status Link to Information within the document
Develop the E-account initiative to deliver a single online portal to ESDC programs, while ensuring whole-of-government scalability In 2017, through design workshops stemming from the transformation agenda, the Department identified opportunities to expand on E-account to deliver more online services than initially envisioned. As a result, the E-account initiative was closed and efforts realigned to OneAccount, which has since been included in the Service Transformation Plan. Service Network Supporting Government Departments
Develop identity and access management processes to improve online services while protecting the privacy of Canadians The Department worked to improve online services while protecting the privacy of Canadians. ESDC consulted with stakeholders and developed a Draft Request for Information for online use in summer 2018. Secure service and seamless access for clients
Simplify service delivery and provide client-centric services through Benefits Delivery Modernization The Department has approved Benefits Delivery Modernization to move into its Program Definition Phase. Service and Benefits Improvements
Continue the migration of content and Government of Canada websites to The migration of priority content to was completed in January 2017. Improvements to the content were ongoing through 2017-18. Service Network Supporting Government Departments
Modernize grants and contributions programming to support program delivery mechanisms that are simplified, integrated and automated. The Department enhanced online functionality to bring efficiencies to the delivery of grants and contributions by providing organizations that applied using a paper-based process with the option to manage agreements online. Service and Benefits Improvements
Complete the Canada Student Loans Program Service Provider Re-procurement The Department initiated a transition to an electronic service delivery model which gives clients the ability to manage their student loans through a self-serve online process. Learning
Expand the use of electronic signature for grants and contributions programs The Electronic Signature project was expanded to enhance the electronic management of financial transactions and minor amendments for grants and contribution agreements in order to streamline processes and further increase efficiencies in the delivery of grants and contributions programs. Service and Benefits Improvements

Priority 6: Provide clients with access to bundled or related services across departments and jurisdictions and leverage the information already provided for other related services.

Key Supporting Initiatives
Planned Initiatives Status Link to Information within the document
Improve death notification to make it easier for Canadians to report a death to the federal government The Department completed a Death Notification Blueprint report including a cross-jurisdiction plan on how to move to electronic death notification processes. Secure service and seamless access for clients
Encourage adoption of the Business Number to provide businesses with a single common identifier when interacting with the Department The Department evaluated the results of the Business Number pilot project and found that the project improved identity validation between businesses and the Job Bank program. As of March 31, 2018, the Department began to develop the specific requirements and technology that will allow businesses to use their Business Number as a means of connecting to programs and services. Secure service and seamless access for clients
Increase service network collaboration with provinces and territories The Department developed a Service Partnerships Playbook which provides best practices and case studies from across the country that can be replicated or scaled up to improve how services are delivered to Canadians. Secure service and seamless access for clients
Increase access to passport services, strengthen integrity and security of the program while improving efficiency and generating savings In 2017-18, passport services were successfully expanded to Service Canada Centres, increasing access for clients to apply for or renew a passport. Delivery of Services for Other Government of Canada Programs
Improve in-person service The Department developed a strategy to enhance access to service at the community level. ESDC partnered with other levels of government to provide in-person services to individuals living in rural communities as well as launching a quality monitoring program that will help the Department maintain consistent service delivery across it’s points of service Service Network Supporting Government Departments
Enable a more consistent and user-friendly service experience for Canadians through a client experience modernization initiative

Service Canada conducted a Client Experience Survey in 2017-18 for six major programs: Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan, Canada Pension Plan Disability, Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement, and Social Insurance Numbers.

The Department also developed journey maps – visual representations of a client’s interaction with the organization - to identify challenges and pain points from the client perspective as well as identifying solutions to improve client experience. Journey maps were completed for Canada Pension Plan Disability benefit application process.

Service Network Supporting Government Departments
Collaborate with the Canada Revenue Agency to further advance the Direct Deposit and Address Information Sharing Initiative The Department, along with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), implemented the Direct Deposit and Address Information Sharing Initiative, allowing individuals to update direct deposit information once across both the CRA and ESDC’s Canada Pension Plan program Secure service and seamless access for clients
Modernize the Social Insurance Register by consulting with partners and stakeholders In 2017-18, the Department completed early analysis of and planning for options to modernize the Social Insurance Register. Secure service and seamless access for clients

Priority 7: Ensure clients have access to easy-to-use, timely and secure services.

Key Supporting Initiatives
Planned Initiatives Status Link to Information within the document
As part of the Call Centre Improvement Strategy, implement new technologies in call centres. As part of the Call Centre Improvement Strategy, the Department worked with other government departments and the private sector to update the migration of Service Canada Centres to a Hosted Contact Centre Solution , which will improve the client experience in the telephony platform Service and Benefits Improvements
Pilot Canada’s Digital Interchange initiative with participating provinces In collaboration with provinces and the Treasury Board Secretariat under the Canada Digital Interchange initiative, the Department created “proof of concept” pilots to test aspects of the Pan-Canadian Trust Framework. Secure service and seamless access for clients
Work with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to increase the secure delivery of passports

In 2017-18, ESDC expanded passport services across the Service Canada network and partnered with IRCC to replace IT infrastructure for a more efficient system for passport delivery.

The Department continued to work with IRCC to modernize and improve the delivery of passport services with the aim of providing more accessible and convenient services to Canadians.

Secure service and seamless access for clients
Continue to engage with the territories to expand the Vital Events Linkages Program Implementation of the Vital Events Linkages program has been deferred to a later date as the Northwest Territories first engaged in electronic exchange of information with Statistics Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency and need to reassess capacity to move this initiative forward with ESDC. Yukon has to undertake regulatory amendments to support the exchange of information.  There has been no progress made by either ESDC or Statistics Canada/Canada Revenue Agency with Nunavut. Secure service and seamless access for clients
Implement amendments to Employment Insurance automation to enhance the client experience and service quality The Employment Insurance automation project implemented a series of tactical changes designed to enhance client experience and service quality. Skills and Employment
Increase proactive activities with unions and employers to facilitate collective bargaining A new public workshop entitled Interest Based Negotiations was offered for the first time as part of a continued effort to support positive workplace relations, increase proactive activities and facilitate collective bargaining between unions and employers. Labour
Leverage technology and use tools that focus on the evolving needs of Canadian workers and employers ESDC enhanced the information technology used to manage administrative data and collect reports electronically from employers and employees in the federal jurisdiction. Labour
Continue to improve compliance and enforcement under labour legislation and policies with a focus on repeat offenders and improving response time Consultations with internal and external stakeholders have been undertaken to inform the development of regulations and policies to support recent legislative amendments to the Canada Labour Code aimed at strengthening compliance and enforcement. Labour
Renegotiate selected Government Employees Compensation Act agreements with provincial workers’ compensation boards in order to modernize service agreements through an efficient and effective workers’ compensation system In 2017-18, ESDC continued to address a number of implementation issues associated with negotiated agreements. The solutions to these issues will be reflected in subsequent agreements. Labour
Address workload pressures associated with an aging population through the Pensions Integrated National Workload Plan The Department began the implementation of a new pensions workload management system to support the processing of Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security benefits. Income Security
Renew the Canada Pension Plan Disability Program to support Canadians with severe and prolonged disabilities The Department streamlined and simplified the application process, enhanced efficiencies and improved client services, and embedded quality by design in new services, processes and technological solutions for the Canada Pension Plan – Disability. Income Security
Advance key measures to improve the integrity of programs and services by increasing the adoption of the “integrity-by-design approach” as well as modernizing integrity IT systems and processes The Department embedded integrity measures, including conducting fraud risk assessments, investigations, program compliance reviews, root cause analysis, and predictive analytics throughout the benefit and service life cycle and is still continuing to do so. These activities fall under ESDC’s Fraud Framework which was revised to ensure that all relevant departmental activities are documented and that it reflects current domestic/global trends and best practices. Secure service and seamless access for clients
Engage key stakeholders toward the co-creation of a real-time payroll information-sharing model The Department engaged employers, payroll experts, labour and the Canada Revenue Agency with the support of the Commissioners for Employers and Workers, to identify the barriers and potential solutions required to enable an ePayroll service. Skills and Employment
Implement transparent service standards The Department undertook service standard reviews related to the delivery of Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security programs to ensure service standards are relevant and meet client expectations and to gain insight on where further improvements could be made. Service and Benefits Improvements
Allow grants and contributions recipients and program staff to manage direct deposit information and allow the electronic signature of minor amendments to agreements A secure electronic solution was developed and implemented to allow grants and contributions recipients to submit and manage their direct deposit information through a secure online environment. The solution allows payments to be managed in a more efficient manner. Service and Benefits Improvements
Conduct a review of the Social Security Tribunal of Canada, to assess and make recommendations regarding its efficiency, timeliness and effectiveness The Department completed a review of the Social Security Tribunal (SST) of Canada to ensure it remains relevant and meets the needs and expectations of Canadians. The review included multiple cross Canada public consultations, stakeholder interviews, web surveys and extensive data analysis and research. The final report on the Review of the SST was released on January 5, 2018. Service and Benefits Improvements

Priority 8: Ensure clients are notified of potential services for which they are eligible and are auto-enrolled where applicable.

Key Supporting Initiatives
Planned Initiatives Status Link to Information within the document
Old Age Security Service Improvement Strategy As part of the Service Improvement Strategy, the Department piloted an integrated Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement application and implemented business process improvements, including an interactive OAS Program Toolkit. Income Security
Canada Pension Plan Service Improvement Strategy The Department implemented additional online services for CPP clients, including the ability to view application status. Canada Pension Plan - Disability application forms and guides were reviewed in consultation with citizens, advocates, health professionals and non-government organizations to identify how the Department can reduce the burden imposed on clients. Income Security
Leverage Open Data as a means to improve service delivery The Department developed and implemented an ESDC Information Strategy which included a first principle which stipulates “Information is Open by Design”. Internal Services
Enhance auto-enrolment of EI claimants in Job Bank services to provide tools for job seekers The Department added a new optional field in the Employment Insurance (EI) online application system Appliweb to collect email addresses, as well as automatically enrolling EI regular and fishing benefits applicants in Job Alerts if their email is provided in Appliweb. Skills and Employment

Strategic Direction: Strengthen internal infrastructure to support efficient, cost-effective and secure operations in the organization.

For more information on the Department’s plans, priorities and results achieved, see the “Results: What We Achieved” section of this report

See the Planned Results section on Internal Services for further details on priorities and initiatives that support this Strategic Direction.

For more information on organizational priorities, see the Ministers’ mandate lettersFootnote 3 on the Prime Minister of Canada’s website.

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