Service Canada is the face of Government for million of Canadians-2021

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

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Figure 1: Service Canada is the face of Government for millions of Canadians
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Service Canada is the face of Government for millions of Canadians

In 2019 to 2020, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) provided $135.2 billion in direct benefits to Canadians

Of that amount, $17.5 billion were for 1.9 million Employment Insurance claims, $49.0 billion were for 6.1 million Canada Pension Plan payments, $56.3 billion were for 6.5 million seniors Old Age Security payments. A further, $1.7 billion in grants and contributions administered to Canadians, and 2.3 million passports were issued.

Our clients reflect the diversity of our country:

  • persons with disabilities
  • clients in northern, remote and Indigenous communities
  • other Government departments
  • adults
  • children
  • newcomers
  • seniors
  • youth
  • people experiencing homelessness
  • businesses
  • foreign workers
  • individuals
  • students
  • employers, and
  • communities

Dedicated professionals serve clients from coast to coast to coast

Employment and Social Development Canada has over 35,000 employees, over 74% of whom are located outside of the National Capital Region

Our services that support Canadian’s well-being are critically dependent on technology

  • For telephone: 1.77 million calls for general inquiries were received for the 1 800 O-Canada telephone line. Call centres received over 7 million calls for program specific information
  • In-person: 8.6 million visits were to 317 Service Canada Centres and 247 Outreach sites
  • Online: the principal Government website,, received 396.8 million visits. My Service Canada Account was used to apply and see application status

Meeting the service needs of Canadians means tackling challenges

The technology underpinning our programs is aging, fragile and under increasing pressure

Age of current platforms or key components

The age of current platforms or key components for ESDC programs vary. For example, the Social Insurance Platform was created in 1992 and the Employment Insurance platform in 1975. In turn, the system that runs the Old Age Security program was created in 1965, and some components of the Canada Pension Plan in 1968. Major outages are up 159% over the past 4 years.

Growing cybersecurity threat

Between 2 and 7 billion malicious actions targeting the Government are blocked every day

Rapidly increasing pension workload

It is anticipated that the workload for the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security will increase significantly in the next 29 years. In 2019, there were 5.6 million recipients of the Canadian Pension Plan. It is expected that this amount will increase to 9.9 million recipients by 2050. In 2019, there were 6.6 million recipients of Old Age Security and it is expected that by 2050 the number of recipients will increase to 10.1 million.

Covid-19 pushed many Canadians online and expectations for digital are high

Between 2018 and 2020, there has been a change in service channel preference. For example, between 2018 and 2020 clients’ use of the website channel increased by 16%, while the use of the phone channel increased by 2%. The use of in-person services decreased by 18%.

In an Angus Reid study, 41% of respondents indicated that federal digital services are worse than other organizations.

The human touch is still important

45% of clients wanted quicker phone assistance when applying for benefits. 86% of clients are most satisfied accessing services in-person, the highest of all channels.

Barriers to access still exist

Despite efforts to increase uptake 170,000 seniors have not applied to receive Old Age Security or Guaranteed Income Supplement to which they may be entitled, foregoing approx. $900M annually.

Client satisfaction is significantly lower, for clients with a disability then it is for all clients (76% compared to 84% for all clients).

Our plan to improve services

Modernize IT while addressing the technical debt by

  • Stabilizing IT infrastructure and systems to reduce outages
  • Modernizing networks to improve processing speed
  • Strengthening disaster recovery solutions to minimize service disruptions
  • Strengthening cybersecurity to protect interests of Canadians

Provide seamless digital services

  • Build a new digital channels with modern features
  • Sign-in once for all ESDC online services
  • Seamless movement between online, chat and call services
  • Automate simple process steps to free up staff for complex questions

Reach all Canadians

  • Continue successful community outreach introduced in pandemic
  • Design accessibility into technology and personal services
  • Simplify policy design
  • Innovate community partnerships to reach marginalized populations

Benefits Delivery Modernization will provide the government a modern benefit delivery capacity and new digital channel, scalable to support additional benefit programs, including from other departments

Service Canada is a leader in service delivery for the Government of Canada

We responded to COVID-19 quickly and nimbly by:

Delivering new benefits including the

  • Canada Emergency Response Benefit
  • One-time payments to Seniors and Persons with Disabilities
  • Fish Harvester Benefit

Bringing more services online including the:

  • COVID Benefits Finder
  • eService Canada
  • eSIN
  • eCommunity Outreach

We already provide a broad array of services…

For example, through, we provide a common web platform for 83 departments. We also provide 37 telephone or email services for departments and agencies.

…and investments position us to do much more:

For example, we could create a single sign-in access for all departments and agencies, improve call centre services and enhance our benefit delivery services.

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