Canada’s Digital Ambition 2022

On this page

Introducing the Government of Canada’s Digital Ambition

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians have increasingly worked, shopped, learned, and engaged with government online. Their expectation and need for easy to use, accessible digital options continue to grow, and many public- and private-sector organizations are transforming to use digital technologies to deliver better programs and services.

Now more than ever, we have work to do to make it easier for Canadians to interact with the Government of Canada, and we are committed to better serving Canadians in a digital age. This will require modern, integrated systems and an unwavering focus on the needs and experience of citizens. We have made progress, but we must continue to improve.

During the pandemic, the government quickly deployed new and innovative programs to support Canadians, but we have also seen examples where we can do more to deliver secure, reliable, and easy to use digital services.

Building on the vision outlined in Canada’s Digital Government Strategy, I am pleased to introduce the Government of Canada’s Digital Ambition (GC's Digital Ambition) which has been developed with this service imperative in mind. Under the leadership of the Chief Information Officer of Canada, guided by the government priorities outlined in my mandate letter, the GC's Digital Ambition provides a clear, long-term strategic vision for the Government of Canada to advance digital service delivery, cyber security, talent recruitment, and privacy.

The GC's Digital Ambition will provide a solid foundation for the ever-evolving digital transformation of government. It will serve as an important tool to support the focus shared across ministers and departments to identify and implement better ways to ensure Canadians receive high quality, accessible, and efficient government services.

I am committed to driving forward this bold agenda on behalf of all Canadians and with the support of my cabinet colleagues, leaders across the federal government, the provinces and territories, and most importantly, the current and future talent of the federal public service. This “Team Canada” approach will help us fully realize the possibilities of delivering government in a digital age.

The Honourable Mona Fortier, P.C., M.P.
President of the Treasury Board

Document purpose and what’s new

Digital Ambition statement

To enable delivery of government in the digital age for all Canadians. This will be done by providing modernized and accessible tools to support service delivery that expresses the best of Canada in the digital space.

Developed by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS), the Government of Canada’s (GC’s) Digital Ambition fulfills the responsibility of the Chief Information Officer of Canada, set out in the Treasury Board Policy on Service and Digital, for “approving an annual, forward looking three-year enterprise-wide plan that establishes the strategic direction for the integrated management of service, information, data, [information technology] and cyber security.” This document was created in consultation with the digital and service delivery community within the federal public service.

In line with the Government of Canada Digital Standards, TBS has designed this plan with Canadians in mind. It incorporates feedback received on previous strategic plans and complements other key policies, guidelines, plans and strategies that set out the requirements for departments’ planning processes (see Appendix A).

The Digital Ambition consolidates previous priorities into strategic themes that support the government’s ongoing digital transformation. In addition to the evolved strategic themes, the priorities within each theme have been organized to align with the GC’s goals. The purpose of these changes is to align the government’s digital strategy to take an outcome-focused, action-oriented approach to addressing the challenges of digital modernization and the risks of our aging information technology (IT) systems to bring long-term benefits to all Canadians and users, including GC employees.

This Digital Ambition recognizes progress achieved, sets government‑wide priorities and lists key activities for departments and agencies, including those that serve other government organizations, by working to modernize service delivery, improve sustainability and promote digital stewardship. These priorities and activities will help departments move toward the digital delivery of programs and services for users.

Departments will develop their own integrated plans in alignment with the Digital Ambition and in support of their departmental mandates and requirements. TBS will continue to update the Digital Ambition annually to address emerging priorities and actions, and will prepare an annual progress report.

Message from the Chief Information Officer of Canada

Delivering Government in a Digital Age is about putting the needs of the people we serve at the heart of the government policies, programs and services we deliver, through the use of modern technology and effective use of data. Advances in digital technology are transforming the way Canadians live, work and interact with one another, and they expect their government to provide services that meet their growing expectations when they need them and through the medium they choose to access them (digital or otherwise). The Digital Ambition is about meeting those expectations and delivering government services and benefits simply, securely and efficiently. We have much to do.

Many programs and services that Canadians rely on are supported by technology that is 20, 30, or even 50 years old. Maintaining these systems is costly and resource intensive, and their age creates risks of service disruptions that would have an immense and immediate impact on Canadians. In addition, citizens report challenges with government digital services, which are often seen as difficult to access and overly complicated.

Moving forward, we have but one option: we must continue to deliver the services that Canadians rely on today while accelerating our move to modern services that are secure, reliable, user-centric and barrier-free, and meeting the need for privacy and transparency. This is essential to maintaining trust in Canada’s institutions.

In a dynamic government operating environment, it is essential for us to be agile in prioritizing our efforts across the enterprise. It is through prioritization and dedication of necessary resources to achieve goals that we will fully realize the value of technology and enterprise solutions, empowering providers to improve their services to better meet the needs of those we serve.

We will need to build a bridge between people and technology, all as part of the goal of improving service. By putting key services and benefits within reach of every Canadian, with top talent, new capabilities and increased collaboration under unified leadership, we aim to increase accessibility, equity, transparency and trust of Canadians in their government.

The Digital Ambition presents an outcome-focused, action-oriented, enterprise-wide approach to continuing to address the challenges of digital modernization and the risks of our aging IT systems to provide long-term benefits to all the people and businesses we serve, including GC employees. The ability of the Government to deliver both large technical modernizations and iterative improvements is critical to improve what Canadians experience in the digital age. To respond to the challenges ahead, we will require collaboration – working with our federal partners and organizations to identify common solutions to ensure the best use of technical expertise and public funds.

The GC’s Digital Ambition is built with four themes:

  1. excellence in technology and operations with a de-risked technical landscape and modern, agile, human-centred practices
  2. simpler, trusted digitally driven services and programs underpinned by GC-wide data integration and management
  3. governing frameworks and policies designed for a modern, secure and privacy-centric digital government
  4. optimized, upskilled and empowered digital talent across the GC, with the knowledge that digital talent across Canada is at a premium

Achieving these priorities will result in a government that is enabled to be more open and more collaborative and that provides improved “digital-first,” user-centred and barrier-free services and programs. With an eye to both the benefits of this undertaking and the challenges that lie ahead, I look forward to continuing our engagement to realize the GC’s digital modernization and continued transformation.

Catherine Luelo
Chief Information Officer of Canada

Context: a rapidly changing digital landscape

In this section

Today’s digital landscape is marked by change of unprecedented pace and scope. Rapid technological, digital and data transformation are now part of Canadians’ daily lives, revolutionizing the way they access information and services and how they live, socialize and work.

Canadians expect to be able to access any government service, at any time and on any device. Most citizens agree that personal information should be shared between GC departments to enable faster, simpler service. However, while they recognize the potential of technological, digital and data transformation, citizens are concerned about how the GC uses and manages their personal information and about what it does to ensure their privacy and security.

This expectation is being reflected in government priorities. In the 2021 Speech from the Throne, the government committed to ensuring that all Canadians, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed Internet. It also committed to making generational investments to update outdated IT systems to modernize the way government serves Canadians, from the elderly to the young, for people looking for work and those living with a disability.

Canada plays a leadership role in digital government internationally through forums such as the Digital Nations, the International Council for Information Technology in Government Administration, the Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations.

In recent years, Canada has also been a leading voice in the global open government community. Since 2012, it has been a member of the Open Government Partnership. This multilateral initiative by 76 member nations and 76 sub-national government members aims to secure concrete commitments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance, in partnership with civil society and the private sector. Canada has released four Open Government Partnership action plans that outline how it will make government more open. A fifth action plan is being finalized for 2022–24.

Building trust

In today’s digital landscape, it is imperative that Canadians trust that their government is protecting their personal information and data. Putting in place appropriate and rigorous privacy measures will assure Canadians that their personal information is protected while continuing the move toward more digital approaches in the delivery of government services. Building privacy into new digital initiatives from the start and ensuring that the protection of personal information is considered throughout the project life cycle, is foundational to supporting the government’s digital transformation.

Protecting personal information means that we must ensure that it is properly safeguarded. Including privacy safeguards in contractual partnerships and data and information-sharing agreements is essential to enabling the government’s digital modernization. However, it is important to emphasize that protecting personal information encompasses more than safeguarding personal information. It also includes:

  • ensuring that we are accountable
  • limiting the collection, use and disclosure of information
  • retaining information for only as long as needed
  • maintaining the accuracy of information
  • ensuring that we are transparent in our practices

The government is committed to balancing openness by default and protecting privacy. Protecting Canadians’ personal information and upholding their right to access to their information and correct it are essential in building and preserving Canadians’ trust in federal public institutions.

Building public trust includes recognizing the value of data as a strategic asset, which includes identifying when data constitutes personal information and protecting it accordingly. Knowledge of privacy practices is essential to the digitally enabled public service. There is an opportunity to integrate training with practices for maintaining privacy and protecting personal information and data to develop the skills and tools needed for a digitally enabled public service.

Opportunities and challenges

New and emerging technologies and digital solutions offer significant opportunities to help us make this digital transformation. We have made investments and progress in areas such as big data, sophisticated analytical tools, accessibility and cloud computing. We need to do more to ensure that we make the right investment decisions and continue to remove institutional barriers to transformation.

Our government operates in departments as set out in legislation, and vertical operations lead to independent systems in many cases. The complex flow of data and information make it difficult for users to find, navigate and use government services; this can get in the way of a positive user experience. Furthermore, many IT systems and infrastructure components are outdated, complex and costly to maintain. They are difficult to change quickly and carry additional risks. In addition, limitations in core capabilities related to delivering on these large complex programs remain barriers to digital change.

Canadians also report mixed levels of satisfaction with the GC’s digital services: 68% cited one or more problems with digital government services, including:

  • the inability to remember sign-in information
  • long completion times for tasks
  • the inability to find information or services

Additionally, Canada has the lowest usage frequency for digital government services among a recent survey of 36 countries: only 30% of citizens used government digital services once per week, compared to an average of 47%.Footnote 1 Making the sign-in experience of users easier and improving the overall end-to-end experience of accessing government services are key to ensuring that the GC’s digital transformation keeps users’ needs at the forefront.

The online service experience is the face of the GC in the digital era as Canadians continue to access more services through their devices than they do in person. When accessing GC services in 2020:

  • 44% of citizens indicated that their main method of contact was by using websites
  • 28% used the telephone as their main channel
  • 14% visited offices, service counters or kiosks

There was a notable increase in the use of websites since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a 16-percentage-point increase, compared to 2018 (28%). It is important that users trust GC services to maintain and securely manage sensitive data and personal information.

We continue to dismantle barriers to accessing government information and services, and we are building a diverse and inclusive workplace that helps us better understand the needs of Canadians and deliver quality, user-centric services. Nevertheless, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ2 people, Black people and other racialized minority individuals and women continue to face systemic barriers.

The GC’s Digital Ambition will complement ongoing work in this area, which includes the implementation of the Accessibility Strategy for the Public Service of Canada and Building a Foundation for Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy 2019–2022. Through these and other systematic processes of modernizing digital services, the GC will work with employment equity groups to better understand their needs and expectations, and design a more inclusive and accessible digital service for all.

Our progress so far

Our previous strategies have laid out an ambitious agenda. Since 2018, we have made progress toward our goals. Recent accomplishments focused on putting in place the frameworks for horizontal decision-making, such as new Treasury Board policy instruments, stronger governance structures and other strategic plans and initiatives to achieve our goals.

Government of Canada Digital Standards: our DNA

  • Design with users
  • Iterate and improve frequently
  • Work in the open by default
  • Use open standards and solutions
  • Address security and privacy risks
  • Build in accessibility from the start
  • Empower staff to deliver better services
  • Be good data stewards
  • Design ethical services
  • Collaborate widely
  • The Government of Canada Digital Standards, co‑created with the public and with key stakeholder groups, outline the guiding principles for how all public servants must work in the digital age. The standards place users and their needs at the heart of our services, programs and operations, and require that we leverage digital technologies and methods to deliver the high‑quality services Canadians expect. To improve departments’ adoption of these standards, TBS will develop the Digital Standards into policy.
  • The Policy on Service and Digital and the Directive on Service and Digital, developed with stakeholders from across Canada, came into effect on April 1, 2020. Along with their supporting instruments, they articulate how GC organizations are to manage service delivery, information and data, IT and cyber security in the digital era. The policy focuses on the client and, for the first time, requires departments to name a senior official responsible for service management and cyber security. TBS is working to adjust the existing policy suite to accelerate digital transformation and to address emerging needs and priorities. It is also developing new directives and standards.
  • Deputy minister committees were struck to make policies more coherent government-wide and to promote a whole-of-government approach to management, human resources and policy planning. These committees include committees on enterprise priorities and planning; core services; and governance in a digital age, which focuses on issues such as privacy and data use and strategic procurement for complex programs.
  • The Government of Canada Enterprise Architecture Review Board (GC EARB) has continued with its mandate, set out in the Policy on Service and Digital, to “define current and target architecture standards for the Government of Canada and review departmental proposals for alignment.” The Government of Canada Service and Digital Target Enterprise Architecture, endorsed on October 22, 2020, will help us better coordinate our transformation efforts and focus on users and service delivery when considering new IT solutions and when modernizing older ones. It will also help us align our IT investments with business services. The document is now the primary architecture reference for all departments (as applicable) for the digital enablement of GC services. See Appendix B for a visual representation of the Government of Canada Service and Digital Target Enterprise Architecture.
  • The Report to the Clerk of the Privy Council: A Data Strategy Roadmap for the Federal Public Service, published in November 2018, sets strategic priorities for a unified and collaborative approach to managing government‑wide data as an asset while respecting privacy. This data strategy will be undergoing a refresh as part of the launch of the GC’s Digital Ambition.
  • Canada’s 2018-2020 National Action Plan on Open Government was released in December 2018. This is the fourth iteration of this plan and details the GC’s commitment to making government information, data and services open and inclusive for all Canadians. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the implementation period for the 2018–20 plan and the consultation for the fifth National Action Plan was extended by a year. The GC has co‑created the fifth iteration with civil society and will publish it in 2022.
  • The GC‑wide greening IT working group was launched in July 2020. Chaired by TBS, this working group of departmental chief information officers has produced a series of initial recommendations for ways that departments and central agencies can scale greening IT policies, actions and strategies. The GC will develop targets, standards and procurement criteria for government IT that supports the updated Greening Government Strategy.
  • Canada signed the Digital Nations Charter in February 2018, joining leading nations in a mission to harness digital technology to benefit citizens. The 2020 charter commits Canada to working toward core principles of digital development, with a focus on user needs, open government and a commitment to share and learn from member nations.
  • In 2021, key investments were made toward modernizing legacy IT systems and strengthening the overall health of the government’s application portfolio. Budget 2021 provided $215 million for Shared Services Canada to continue to help government departments and agencies assess digital applications and data, and then decommission or move them to modern computing facilities. Budget 2021 also provided a total of $648 million to Employment and Social Development Canada and TBS over the next seven years to invest in Service Canada’s IT systems and related activities, and support service delivery to Canadians generally. Additionally, $300 million was provided to Shared Services Canada over the next three years, starting in 2021–22, to continue work to repair and replace critical IT infrastructure. This will start us on the journey of achieving our pillars, particularly related to excellence in technology and operations.
  • A new Assistant Deputy Minister of Transformation has been established within the Office of the Chief Information Officer of Canada to oversee both OCIO and enterprise-wide digital transformation efforts and programs.
  • Guideline on Making Information Technology Usable by All: This guideline supports the GC’s direction to ensure that departments, agencies and organizations consider accessibility in the acquisition or development of IT solutions and equipment to make IT usable by all.

Many of the priorities outlined in the previous strategic plans are ongoing projects that will be carried forward into future years. Work will continue in the key priority areas of data, service delivery, cyber security and talent management to operationalize these priorities.

Digital government

A digital government puts people and their needs first. It is accountable to its citizens and shares information with them. It involves them when making policies and designing services. It values inclusion and accessibility. It designs services for the people who need them, not for the organizations that deliver them.

The GC is an open and service-oriented organization that operates and delivers programs and services to people and businesses in simple, modern and effective ways that are optimized for digital and available anytime, anywhere and from any device.

Digitally, the GC must operate as one to benefit the people of Canada.

Our strategy: transitioning to a more digital government to improve client service

In this section

In this section, we outline the four strategic themes that were developed to enable the GC’s Digital Ambition. These themes are the enduring objectives that we will pursue to make digital government a reality and help us provide a fully digital service experience for Canadians:

  1. Excellence in technology and operations: maximize effectiveness and value assurance of technology investments across government
  2. Data-enabled digital services and programs: drive cross-government improvement in client and employee services, data and cross-agency integration
  3. Action-ready digital strategy and policy: set strategy, policy and guidance that enables safe, secure, reliable and privacy enabled operations
  4. Structural evolution in funding, talent and culture: advocate for changes to policy and governance that prioritize and unlock the full value of digital investment

Our strategy in action: priorities for the next three years (2022–25)

This section identifies priorities and actions for each of the four strategic themes for the next three years. These actions should be reflected in annual Departmental Plans so that all departments move together as one.

TBS will send annual performance management targets, expected results and measures, for each action identified in the sections below, to chief information officers, chief data officers and senior officials responsible for service management and cyber security. TBS will use these targets to measure the government’s progress on this plan year over year.

The central theme of our strategy remains improving the accessibility and quality of services to Canadians while ensuring security and privacy. As clients increasingly deal with the government through digital channels, it becomes crucial that we keep pace with the expectations of users and rapidly evolving technology. The cornerstone of excellence of service delivery is the trust that Canadians place in our institutions.

Strategic theme 1: excellence in technology and operations

In this section

The GC has a long-term goal of modernizing how we replace, build and manage major IT systems. Delivering the programs and services that Canadians rely on every day depends on fully functional, secure, reliable and privacy-enabled IT and on accurate and authoritative data.

The health of GC applications varies and they sit on aging infrastructure. A single system failure can impede our ability to deliver benefits and services in times of need, which can erode public trust. Maximizing the effectiveness of technology and assuring Canadians of the value of investments by re-architecting the technology landscape and digitalizing manual processes will be critical to:

  • modernizing the overall health of the government’s application portfolio
  •  improving the service experience of all clients

To this end, the Office of the Chief Information Officer will perform a structural assessment to understand the inventory of technology assets and solutions across GC services and organizations, identifying divergences from architectural best practices and potentially at-risk solutions.

To deliver better digital services, we need modern IT infrastructure and systems. We have made progress in rationalizing applications, but GC departments and agencies still support more than 7,000 business applications (down from 8,900 in 2018), including some that enable the delivery of critical services.

To support enterprise operations, Shared Services Canada (SSC) is working to build and strengthen the federal government’s foundational IT infrastructure. SSC is closing legacy data centres, reducing its environmental footprint and deploying modern infrastructure. The deployment of the Digital Communications and Collaboration (DCC) platform across the GC has been key to enabling the continuous delivery of GC programs and services since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our Cloud Adoption Strategy means that departments must use the public cloud to store, manage and process data and applications, when it makes sense to do so. This approach helps departments deliver high-quality digital services using cloud services that have been approved for use in the GC. As the cloud broker, SSC liaises between qualified external cloud service providers and departments to make sure that departments have access to the best possible cloud solutions for secure service delivery. Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) ensures that small and medium-sized enterprises have a role in providing cloud services to the GC.

Cyber security threats continue to increase, and so must our risk response. The integrity and security of the GC’s data and IT infrastructure is essential to providing services to Canadians. With the increasing sophistication and frequency of cyberattacks, we must remain vigilant and continue to strengthen the GC’s defences. To protect GC devices, systems and information throughout their life cycle, we will use an information-centric security model that is supported by a trusted digital identity. We will, for example, leverage cyber-defence services, such as those offered by the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security.

A deputy minister committee has been established to advance these modernization priorities, particularly in relation to systems that have the highest impact on Canadians and businesses. The committee will consult internal and external technical advisors to provide guidance and recommendations to inform the committee’s work.

Our IT systems transformation goals include:

  • preventing service failures from negatively impacting the lives of Canadians in the short term by stabilizing systems most at risk of failing
  • avoiding new legacy problems by designing IT systems to be adaptable, resilient, iterative and secure
  • enabling consistent, timely and reliable services to Canadians by building modern IT systems and by updating them frequently
  • providing modern, secure cloud-based tools for enhanced productivity, collaboration and email, and equipping the GC workforce with modern workplaces and secure devices

We will use the Government of Canada Digital Standards in redesigning, funding and implementing major legacy modernization.

Priority 1.1: strengthen the overall health of the government’s application portfolio

Thousands of software applications are used to run the systems that deliver GC programs and services, such as Employment Insurance, passports and Old Age Security, to millions of Canadians every day. The good health of these applications is essential for reliable and secure service.

Several issues can weaken this health and lead to “technical debt.” Technical debt occurs when a vendor hasn’t upgraded an application and no longer supports it, or when an application is so old that it’s difficult to find people who have the skills to maintain it. In some cases, technical debt makes applications costly to maintain and become at risk of performance and security failures. In other cases, it means that applications are too outdated to deliver fully digital services. Government service delivery is at risk, as over half of GC applications are not healthy, many of which are mission-critical.

To avoid future technical debt, departments should continue to rationalize and modernize their application portfolios by:

  • prioritizing cloud services or moving to SSC’s enterprise data centres when it makes sense to do so
  • building a roadmap laying out target dates for data centre closure
  • leveraging common enterprise solutions and cloud-based solutions such as software-as-a-service (SaaS)
  • monitoring and investing to keep the portfolio in good health
  • using secure application development practices to help mitigate the risks of vulnerabilities in application software and to provide assurance that digital services are operating as intended
  • minimizing cyber risks by implementing the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security’s top 10 security actions
  • developing standards, tools and guidance for a user-centred approach to accessibility and disability that makes it part of the application development process

In addition to taking these measures, TBS, SSC and PSPC are collaborating to ensure that all parts of the GC enterprise progress together. The GC designs its services to be convenient for those who need them. However, in order to ensure that the user experience is seamless and accessible, attention must be given to the platforms and processes that support these services, including cloud technology and data centres. This work includes:

  • enhancing the GC Application Portfolio Management framework and tools to provide better data-driven insights for departments to use in managing the health of their application portfolio and for senior leaders to use in making decisions for the prioritization of enterprise investments
  • providing funding to departments to modernize applications and migrate to modern hosting environments
  • finding more opportunities for common solutions to improve business capabilities across the GC enterprise, in areas such as human resources and pay, financial management and case management
  • developing tools and guidance for a developer-centred approach to security and privacy that makes such an approach part of the application development process
  • working together so that departments can obtain and use cloud services through a light-touch brokering model, delivery of required network services and a review of the funding model
Actions to achieve the priority

To tackle technical debt and improve the health of its application portfolio, the GC is:

  • assessing the health of departmental application portfolios and devising and executing a strategy to modernize applications using cloud-smart and common solutions, emphasizing an agile, iterative and incremental approach
  • releasing a roadmap for target architecture vision and technical debt reduction across the enterprise
  • investing to sustain and improve application portfolio health and manage technical debt
  • phasing out legacy systems that have high down-time risk
  • driving cloud adoption via re-architecting or modernizing prior to SSC cloud transition, initiating migration of critical applications to cloud platforms
  • updating technology to eliminate failure risk of mission critical apps
  • using current development practices to help in the hiring and retention of top talent; action on development, security and operations (DevSecOps) is required to help drive technical excellence
  • increasing incentives for departments to modernize their applications prior to cloud migration
  • developing frameworks and tools for departments to plan, and be accountable for, the life-cycle management of their systems and assets
Priority 1.2: strengthen Government of Canada transformation delivery

As the government continues its digital transformation journey, there remain key challenges that require horizontal solutions and prioritization. To this end, it has become a priority to deploy senior transformation leaders, provide key digital resources and leverage agile ways of working to deliver cross-enterprise programs with a focus on outcomes. Building the necessary institutional strength across the GC is key to ensuring that all departments can keep pace with digital transformation. A digital-centric culture is critical to delivering these results; we must identify changes to organizational structures, governance and ways of working to foster a stronger digital and collaborative culture. The goal is to enable the GC to create its own digital strategies and initiatives from within, while identifying cultural factors that slow the pace of digital transformation.

Actions to achieve the priority
  • Leading the development of an enterprise technological transformation program
  • Coordinating and governing activities across internal and external delivery partners
  • Supporting allocation and prioritization of resources and key skills for programs
Priority 1.3: improve the service experience of all clients

A successful digital government is committed to continuously improving service delivery. It invests in obtaining quality data, gathering client insights, understanding user experiences, and measuring and improving service satisfaction. By making these investments, the government can build public trust.

For government, client focus means developing and delivering client-centric service by design, as required by the Policy on Service and Digital. It means making sure that services:

  • are accessible, inclusive, easy to use and secure
  • are digitally enabled
  • protect clients’ privacy
  • offer clients their choice of official language

Service delivery is improved through commitment to the guiding principles and best practices of the Government of Canada Digital Standards. To provide easy-to-access, modern and effective service, we need to increase the accessibility, availability, reliability and security of online end-to-end services. Doing so will increase user satisfaction and build trust in government. We need to move from traditional service delivery models to end-to-end digital services that clients can access anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. At the same time, we must meet the needs of vulnerable populations that require specific forms of support.

There are several opportunities for improvement, such as redesigning a service for client-centricity, digital enablement, online availability and uptake, efficiency, partnership arrangements, and alternate approaches to service delivery. To identify these improvements, services need to be regularly reviewed with clients, partners and stakeholders.

Given the new digital reality and the pace of change, we need to make sure public servants have the knowledge, skills and mindset to deliver a digital-first experience to Canadians. We also need to give them the space to use those skills and ensure that they can respond to emerging priorities and needs such as those created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Actions to achieve the priority

The GC is working to improve the service experience for all clients by:

  • assessing gaps in the digital service experience and identifying tools such as user testing and client feedback, and continuing to increase the availability and security of end-to-end online services
  • assessing gaps in the digital service experience and advancing the systematic review of services in line with the Government of Canada Digital Standards to identify opportunities for improvement
  • using client feedback tools in designing and continuously improving services loops necessary to continuously improve services, including by putting developers directly in touch with end users in the feedback loop
  • developing central platforms and toolkits that enable departments to automate manual processes and increase administrative efficiency
Priority 1.4: deploy modern and accessible workplace tools and devices

The COVID‑19 pandemic has increased the need for more modern work tools. Within days of the pandemic being declared in March 2020, most federal public servants began working from home. Within a few months, a good portion of them were using new collaboration tools that had integrated video and voice features. Departments continue to roll out new tools for employees.

Day-to-day operations have undergone a seismic shift. We must continue to push to get public servants the tools and devices they need to be productive and collaborate in this new reality. For some, this means tools and devices that let them shift permanently or partially to working from home. For others, it means better tools, devices and access so that they can work from a mobile or virtual office out in the field. And for others still, it means specialized tools, access and platforms for research and data analytics.

Our efforts will complement the Accessibility Strategy for the Public Service of Canada and its commitment to provide public servants with a new suite of accessible digital communication and collaboration tools.

We will implement security safeguards based on the sensitivity and value of information and will make sure they have minimal impact on users.

Actions to achieve the priority

The GC is working to deploy modern, accessible tools and devices for all employees by:

  • providing a suite of accessible, modern and secure cloud-based tools for enhanced productivity, collaboration, web conferencing and email
  • equipping the GC workforce with modern workspaces and secure workplace devices
  • establishing enterprise standards for back-office tools and solutions
Priority 1.5: provide modern, reliable and secure networks and infrastructure

Secure networks and infrastructure are the foundations of digital government and of all government services.

Currently, the GC has more than 50 logical networks across the country, consisting of a mix of old and new network infrastructure. Much of the older infrastructure cannot handle cloud, video and voice. Furthermore, the majority of the networks are based on old concepts, some of which are overly complex and labour-intensive to support or modify, costly to maintain, and are lacking in their capacity to scale and to deliver the services Canadians need.

As the GC adopts alternative service delivery models such as public cloud and hybrid cloud, it must continue to provide a secure, reliable and privacy enabled interoperable service delivery environment for internal services and business applications that are hosted in cloud-based environments. The GC must create a secure and resilient enterprise digital security ecosystem.

We must build in privacy and security from the outset and use an information-centric approach so that we can deliver services where only trusted and verified users can access protected assets. By applying a defence-in-depth and layered security approach, the GC will keep pace with evolving technology and practices and properly protect its information and assets. In order to ensure that a service or solution is appropriately secure, it is expected that departments apply graduated safeguards that are commensurate with the risks to their information and IT assets, with more rigorous safeguards as asset values, service delivery requirements and threats to confidentiality, availability or integrity increase.

SSC is in the process of consolidating and modernizing the GC network infrastructure. This includes the recent establishment of expanded external network connectivity, with a focus on access to cloud environments and software as a service. These efforts will continue with the intent of providing ubiquitous connectivity that will be available anytime, on any government device. To support continuous improvement and the move to a digital platform model that has common solutions and components, SSC will address accessibility requirements from the start.

As we work to make government networks and infrastructure more secure, we will continue to consider the needs of the GC’s high-security organizations.

Actions to achieve the priority

The GC is working to provide reliable networks and infrastructure by:

  • transitioning to a single, modern, end-to-end enterprise class network infrastructure that users can access anytime, anywhere
  • increasing network security, including classified cloud networks
Priority 1.6: plan and govern for the sustainable and integrated management of service, information, data, IT, privacy and cyber security

We are making progress on integrating our planning and management of service, information, data, IT and cyber security, as well as input and direction from program officials. Integrated planning that uses the right data, processes and technology will help provide data-driven insights across the GC portfolio of investments, assets and services.

We will make data and information more visible across the GC enterprise to:

  • better align priorities
  • make proactive and timely investment decisions
  • implement effective policies

This increased visibility will help:

  • unify projects, products and capabilities
  • simplify activities
  • improve processes
  • streamline the technologies in use
  • let public servants do their jobs better, faster and more easily
  • better serve clients

We will respond to changes in business needs and better leverage new technologies by enabling agile product management approaches to meet peoples’ evolving expectations. We have made good progress by developing and implementing policies; we accelerated our digital transformation in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic; and we have learned from our response to the pandemic. We need to do more to address institutional barriers, including barriers to modern funding, procurement and governance models.

To address key challenges in the current GC enterprise ecosystem, including reducing silos, eliminating unnecessary redundancies and addressing the problems posed by legacy systems, we have defined a target-state model for the digital enablement of GC services. The Government of Canada Service and Digital Target Enterprise Architecture, will help us:

  • better coordinate our transformation efforts
  • focus on users and service delivery when considering new IT solutions or modernizing old ones
  • make sure IT investments align with users’ needs and underlying business services

To reduce unnecessary redundancy, solutions will employ reusable components for implementing business capabilities. This approach will be enabled using published application programming interfaces and will be shared across the GC.

When implementing the Government of Canada Service and Digital Target Enterprise Architecture, we will systematically consider IT investments from a whole-of-government perspective. We will assess new digital investments against the criteria set out in the revised GC Enterprise Architecture Framework. See Appendix B for a visual representation of the Government of Canada Service and Digital Target Enterprise Architecture.

To inform decision-making across the enterprise and to protect assets, we will continue to monitor the digital environment and the cyberthreat and risk landscape. We will respond to cyber security events quickly, consistently and in a coordinated manner by continuously improving the Government of Canada Cyber Security Event Management Plan (GC CSEMP) 2019, our operational framework for managing cyber security events. This improvement will, in turn, ensure the sustained delivery of programs and services.

Actions to achieve the priority

The GC is planning and governing for the sustainable and integrated management of digital services by:

  • implementing a target enterprise architecture GC-wide for the digital enablement of services
  • providing decision-makers with horizontal visibility for the integrated management of service, information, data, IT, privacy and cyber security
  • focusing cyber security priorities on the following initiatives:
    • ensuring safe, secure and reliable assets to protect data from malicious entities
    • supporting departments in a timely manner through execution in adhering to cyber policies
  • providing strategic direction on architectural topics to guide an enterprise approach (for example, prioritizing a “modernize-first” approach to cloud transition)
  • developing enterprise patterns with flexibility for department-specific needs
  • providing architecture resources to support departmental solution design
  • updating privacy risk assessment policies and tools and further integrating them in overall risk frameworks

Strategic theme 2: data-enabled digital services and programs

In this section

The GC’s multitude of programs and services collect, generate and hold an ever‑expanding array of data and information. Data is a strategic asset and is the “currency” of digital government. However, our current legislation, governance and standards do not support consistent and effective sharing and reuse of data. Departments don’t always know the full breadth and depth of their holdings (or those of other departments), and the data needed to support service delivery, decision-making or operations isn’t always available.

The increasingly complex flow of data and information, siloed operations and a complex legislative landscape for data sharing make it difficult for departments to share and develop services and products that work across government, which can result in a negative user experience. Individuals and businesses need and expect modern, secure and reliable technology and data. To meet those needs and expectations, the GC needs a workforce that has the right digital skills and tools, forward-thinking leaders and enabling governance models.

To leverage the data and information the GC holds so that it can benefit Canadians, we need to improve client and employee services and federal programs by championing cross-government initiatives, including digital ID and data integration. Such improvements include:

  • streamlining the secure sharing of data across departments to improve digital services and enable the achievement of priorities
  • supporting the release of high-value open datasets for public and external use

To provide horizontal leadership on these data-related initiatives, a Chief Data Officer of Canada has been established within the Office of the Chief Information Officer of Canada. This new leadership is responsible for pushing forward the government’s data integration and management strategy with privacy and security as key foundations.

Unlocking the potential of data will help us improve services, protect users’ privacy, support evidence-based decisions and create internal efficiencies. We will ensure the appropriate access, use and sharing of data assets by implementing robust data and information governance and stewardship that focus on security, integrity and protecting personal information.

Individuals and businesses have indicated that they want faster, easier access to GC services online. Long lineups at service centres, lengthy call wait times and websites that are difficult to navigate diminish Canadians’ trust in their government. 

Duplication of effort across departments results in inconsistent and inefficient service, and reliance on more costly service delivery channels. People expect government services to be as fast, reliable and easy-to-use as services provided by the private sector. They also expect the government to keep their personal information safe and secure. 

To provide world-class digital government services, we must:

  • strive to continuously improve service delivery based on client and user feedback
  • take an enterprise view to using data and information to fuel a seamless, “tell-us-once” experience
  • ensure privacy and protect personal information

Other governments have proven that standardized approaches to data and common solutions are the keys to building an ecosystem where clients have convenient, reliable, timely and secure access to the services they need, without having to navigate traditional vertical accountability structures. We in the GC must work together to do the same.

Priority 2.1: maximize public value of data and information

To leverage the data and information the GC holds so that it can benefit of Canadians, we need to:

  • define roles and responsibilities for data stewardship
  • implement standards for accessibility and interoperability, while protecting privacy and personal information
  • build solutions to facilitate the secure exchange of data across levels of government and with trusted external partners while upholding ethical and inclusive democratic principles
  • advocate for a legislative framework that supports the responsible and ethical sharing and use of data, in a way that protects these valuable assets
  • develop a data-sharing framework with a first focus on enabling a prioritized sequence of use cases (both user-facing services and internal program design)
  • prioritize the release of high-quality and demanded open data and information to allow the public to generate their own economic and social value

We also need to continue to promote the open government values of transparency, accountability and participation. The upcoming 2022–2024 National Action Plan on Open Government has a commitment in the area of open data for results to increase availability, accessibility, usability and government support for reuse. Additionally, to help the GC and departments identify what areas they need to address and to help them set targets, TBS will develop an open government strategy, a maturity framework and an assessment tool. These instruments are being drafted in response to an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) scan of Canada’s Open Government program.

The Access to Information and Privacy Online Request Service portal, launched in 2018, brings transparency and client service together to help requesters:

  • identify which institutions are likely to hold the information they seek
  • search for summaries of previously released access to information requests

The portal processed over 8,000 requests in 2019–20. Efforts are underway to bring more institutions onto the portal. We need to continue improving the service experience by adopting a standard end-to-end process that will help us better meet our legislative commitments for timely response.

Actions to achieve the priority

The GC is working to maximize the public value of data and information by:

  • prescribing and implementing enterprise standards for data and information accessibility, exchange and reuse, while protecting privacy and personal information
  • enabling the secure, seamless and real-time exchange of data across government departments and with external partners and trusted institutions, to improve the service experience of Canadians
  • increasing the maturity of open government practices through an evidence-based open government strategy, maturity models and assessment tools
  • building an open data ecosystem by establishing an open data advisory group, made up of internal and external stakeholders, to inform open data priorities
  • consulting on and developing service delivery standards for prioritizing and releasing high-value, publicly demanded open data and information
  • identifying ways to improve response times for access to information and personal information requests
  • releasing an updated data strategy roadmap for the government, establishing clear guidelines on data quality, sharing, accessibility and ethics
Priority 2.2: build and use secure common solutions for digital service delivery

Over the past 50 years, most IT systems that help deliver government operations and services have been designed and built independently of one another. This lack of coordination has resulted in a complex technology landscape, that:

  • makes it difficult to integrate systems to provide a seamless client experience
  • leads to high support and maintenance costs
  • creates risks of data loss and other security failures
  • lacks the flexibility and agility needed to deliver new services and benefits quickly

For clients, the lack of coordination means they have to:

  • provide the same information every time they access a new service or benefit
  • wait longer to confirm their identity when they sign up for a new service
  • provide different information as proof for eligibility for different services
  • experience disjointed and inconsistent service delivery quality within and across government organizations

Our next step in enabling digital government is adopting a “government as a platform” service delivery model. This model relies on common components for common service interaction points people in Canada have when dealing with government, whether to find information, apply for a service, or receive a status update, as well as data exchanges within government to give clients a “tell‑us‑once” experience.

We need to work together to make outward-facing digital platforms and components consistent across the GC and to design them for the end user. Examples to date include:

  • GC Notify, which helps departments update clients quickly, consistently, reliably and securely by email or by text message. The Canadian Digital Service developed the tool by building on the open-source code of the United Kingdom government’s GOV.UK Notify product.
  • GC Forms, also developed by the Canadian Digital Service, helps departments easily publish simple, accessible, mobile-friendly and secure online forms reducing the reliance on PDFs that are not accessible and tend to flow from paper-based processes.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for government services to be accessible and flexible in the digital age. The next step in making services more convenient to access is a federal Digital Identity Program, integrated with pre-existing provincial platforms. Digital identity is the electronic equivalent of a recognized proof-of-identity document (for example, a driver’s licence or passport) and confirms that “you are who you say you are” in a digital context. The President of the Treasury Board’s mandate letter, issued in December 2021, committed the government to work “towards a common and secure approach for a trusted digital identity platform to support seamless service delivery to Canadians across the country.”

Actions to achieve the priority

The GC is working to build and use common platforms for digital service delivery by:

  • continuing to scale GC Notify, which has been used for over 200 services to send over 37 million messages to people in Canada since launching in November 2019
  • continuing to test and scale GC Forms, which is now in use by approximately 30 services that have accepted over 1,200 form submissions since launching in July 2021
  • launching public consultations on a federally managed digital identity framework
  • developing a common and secure framework to digital identity
  • establishing a Digital Identity Program, enabling the use of select digital identities for transactions with the GC
  • embracing emerging and leading practices, including reusing data and using common components, where appropriate, to enable interoperability across services
  • establishing classified cloud services for the GC’s high-security organizations
  • building and testing additional platform components to address more of the interaction points people have with government in order to enable departments to stand up entire services more quickly and easily
Priority 2.3: manage and use data and information as strategic assets

In addition to maximizing the public value of data and information (strategic theme 2, priority 2.1), we need to improve how we manage, use and protect these strategic assets.

We need to use the vast amount and variety of data and information the GC collects, creates and holds (including personal, financial, geospatial, scientific and statistical data and information) to make better business decisions, provide better advice to ministers and design better policies and programs, and in turn, deliver a better service experience. Improved use of data and information includes enabling departments to share relevant data (including inputs for program design) to support “tell-us-once” capabilities for users. In doing so, we need to apply a balanced approach that makes protecting sensitive information a priority.

In November 2018, the Clerk of the Privy Council released the Report to the Clerk of the Privy Council: A Data Strategy Roadmap for the Federal Public Service. Developed by the Privy Council Office, TBS and Statistics Canada, the strategy, made recommendations structured around four themes:

  1. stronger governance
  2. improved data literacy and skills
  3. enabling infrastructure and legislation
  4. more focused treatment of data as a valuable asset

Stronger governance calls for a government-wide approach to rules, processes, roles and responsibilities that:

  • aligns with international standards
  • will allow the GC to make the best use of its data and information
  • supports a consistent and proactive approach to embedding data and information considerations from the outset of initiatives

TBS will lead the work to strengthen governance, in collaboration with the Privy Council Office, Statistics Canada and other stakeholders across government. Together, we will also build a central view of government data holdings to:

  • enable sharing, exchange and reuse
  • reduce duplication
  • increase quality
  • expose new opportunities for service improvement

Over the next three years, we will better align our efforts to build a strong foundation for the strategic management of data and information across the GC. This plan identifies actions to achieve some of the priorities set out in the Data Strategy Roadmap for the Federal Public Service. These actions will help ensure that departments and agencies, regardless of their progress on implementing their own data plans, invest in projects and activities that align with or complement the GC’s overall direction.

Actions to achieve the priority

The GC is working to better manage and use data and information as strategic assets by:

  • creating effective governance structures, roles and responsibilities
  • establishing a policy framework, guidance and tools that support the sharing of personal information between federal institutions
  • building and using a common data reference model and working toward an inventory of government data assets
  • defining a government data quality framework, baselining GC data sharing and management capabilities
  • sanitizing data to comply with standards and moving into a secure, integrated cross-departmental platform, enabling digital data sharing across the GC
  • developing a data exchange platform to enable “tell-us-once” processes
  • amending and expanding policy requirements for open government, including open data and information release process
  • building and testing additional platform components that address more of the service interaction points people have with government

Strategic theme 3: action-ready digital policy and strategy

In this section

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, departments require a flexible and action-ready framework of policies and strategy to navigate change while moving us to a common look and feel. Digital government means modernizing and adapting the way we work so that we can compete in a fast‑changing world and ensure that government remains responsive, resilient, and most importantly, relevant. Our digital capacity underpins our ability to deliver every government service and achieve every government priority.

The world is moving toward using cleaner technologies. The GC's Digital Ambition goes hand in hand with the Greening Government Strategy, which seeks to make GC operations low carbon through green procurement and clean technologies. Through the increased promotion of environmental sustainability, and by integrating environmental considerations in its procurement process, the federal government is in a position to influence the demand for environmentally preferable goods and services, the ability of industry to respond to the escalating use of environmental standards in global markets and the resiliency of Canadian assets to climate change.

It is imperative that we set strategy, policy and guidance that prioritize digital government, leverage partners and adopt agile work to enable secure operations. These activities include:

  • refocusing efforts on enterprise priorities that enable cross-GC success
  • balancing the needs of individual departments with the urgency of investment in robust, shared capabilities
  • facilitating cross-enterprise resource allocation and prioritization of digital initiatives
Priority 3.1: embed digital government priorities into governing frameworks and policy

Advocating for key policy changes to existing frameworks will help establish digital-enabling standards and help agencies across the GC accelerate their digital transformation. The goal of these efforts is to develop cross-GC policies with digital considerations at the forefront, including embedding components of digital standards into governing frameworks.

We will continue to enhance enterprise governance and integrate it into government operations to ensure that decisions are based on evidence and take into account business needs alongside technological and information considerations, from concept to delivery and beyond.

The Deputy Minister Committee on Core Services will bring together internal and external experts who have experience in implementing modernization initiatives in order to enable and support the departments that are responsible for transforming core services.

Actions to achieve the priority
  • Enshrining priority digital standards into policy
  • Piloting the execution of initial digital policies
  • Examining the potential for amendments to policy, legislative and governance frameworks to enable digital transformation

Strategic theme 4: structural evolution in funding, talent and culture

In this section

Outdated approaches, complex processes and governance structures are making it difficult for departments to deliver on their mandates and serve the public, and for the GC as a whole to implement changes rapidly. As a result, performance and security risks have increased. For GC public servants, a digital mindset requires a significant culture shift.

Managing and implementing a government-wide culture shift to support digital delivery requires a commitment to digital transformation. It also requires funding, change management and solid leadership to create the conditions where we can rapidly collaborate, improve, and innovate in the new digital reality.

To drive this digital transformation, the Office of the Chief Information Officer will be conducting a 360⁰ workforce assessment to build the foundation for:

  • attracting, retaining and allocating digital talent across the GC
  • developing skills for digital delivery, data literacy and cyber security
  • setting the stage for a digital-first workforce

Digital government means modernizing and adapting the way we work so that we can compete in a fast-changing world and ensure that government remains responsive, resilient, and most importantly, relevant. Our digital capacity underpins our ability to deliver every government service and implement every government priority. But it’s not just about technology; it’s also about people, process and culture.

For public service culture and processes to change, public servants must be flexible, collaborative, digitally knowledgeable and supported by leaders who facilitate and enable the transformation. We are working to tackle longstanding institutional barriers to change and innovation, including enabling governance systems and procurement practices and improving digital literacy.

To strengthen the foundations needed to improve digital service delivery across government, we need to make sure employees have the right digital skills, are in the right place and are supported by enabling leaders. And we need to build a diverse workforce made up of top-notch talent. We will promote enterprise-wide recruitment and talent management initiatives and will increase the representation of women and diversity groups in information and data management, information technology and cyber security, to represent the people we serve.

The deputy minister committee will examine and make recommendations on institutional barriers to transformation, focusing on addressing challenges and achieving outcomes based on milestones. The committee will:

  • seek to make governance more flexible and responsive to the realities of transformation
  • explore new and iterative approaches to funding and procurement
  • look for new ways to attract and retain talent

We are also working to make project design and implementation more agile by using modern approaches, focusing on product management and better balancing oversight and enablement.

For example, TBS, PSPC and SSC are improving the technology-related federal procurement regime. The Next Generation Human Resources and Pay Initiative (NextGen HR and Pay) is part of the GC’s broader efforts to develop enterprise IT approaches across government, replacing legacy systems with modern digital solutions. NextGen HR and Pay is currently working with pilot departments to test HR and pay systems to replace over 34 HR systems, one pay system and several peripheral systems and applications. To achieve its vision of “one employee, one HR and pay experience,” the team is working to transform and modernize the HR and pay landscape with a focus on simplifying and standardizing policies and processes.

Priority 4.1: support fully digital delivery by managing a government-wide culture shift

For GC public servants, a digital mindset requires a significant culture shift.

The Government of Canada Digital Standards, which place the client at the centre, outline how we must work differently in the digital age. These standards, which will evolve over time, form the foundation of the government’s shift to making its operations more iterative, agile, open and user-focused.

Managing and implementing a government-wide culture shift to support digital delivery requires a commitment to transformation. It also requires funding, change management and solid leadership to create the conditions where we can rapidly collaborate, improve and innovate in the new digital reality.

The Digital Ambition provides the strategic direction, priorities and decisive actions to accelerate our transformation efforts. It will also help us work together to use new and emerging technologies in innovative and responsible ways, while meeting user, accessibility, security, privacy, data stewardship and information management requirements.

By collaborating, learning, innovating and working strategically across departments, chief information officers and their staff will play a leadership role in making digital government a reality. They will need to work alongside operations and program and service-delivery teams to ensure an integrated approach.

The Canada School of Public Service’s Digital Academy plays a key role in providing learning opportunities for public servants at all levels to increase their digital and data literacy and skills in the competencies required to effect digital modernization. Learning topics offered through the Digital Academy include:

  • leveraging the Digital Standards
  • developing and applying digital leadership
  • learning the basics on data and artificial intelligence, cloud, cyber security, agile methodology, product management, user design and emerging technologies (for all audiences)

The CSPS also offers training related to change management, leadership development, innovation and experimentation and a variety of materials related to unconscious bias and diversity, equity and inclusion.

A key component of our culture shift is to foster a more entrepreneurial culture by shifting objectives from compliance and risk-mitigation to outcomes and enablement. Delivery can be improved by adopting a “responsible experimentation” approach, where the objective is to learn fast in a safe manner in order to de-risk our efforts early.

Actions to achieve the priority

The GC is working to manage a government-wide culture shift to support digital delivery by:

  • developing guidance and tools to help departments adopt the Government of Canada Digital Standards
  • building an agile management framework and adopting product-management approaches in order to manage funding, procurement and governance
  • working with the Canada School of Public Service’s Digital Academy to make sure deputy heads, executive sponsors for projects and programs and all public servants have the change management expertise they need
  • engaging partner departments to support the GC’s cultural transformation
  • automating targeted manual processes of a selection of the GC’s largest departments
Priority 4.2: build a workforce for digital first delivery

To make digital government a reality, the GC needs to make sure public servants have the right knowledge, skills and mindset. The GC must therefore invest in training and professional development and attract and retain top talent.

This talent will need to reflect the diversity of the clients we serve to help make programs and services inclusive and accessible by design. We will make staffing more flexible to increase the representation of under-represented groups by, for example, using employment equity groups as screening or selection criteria in recruitment and staffing, or leveraging the IT Apprenticeship Program for Indigenous Peoples to benefit from the talent of Indigenous peoples in Canada. We will also make data-driven decisions by taking into account gender and other diversity markers and by promoting anti-bias training.

We also need to make data-driven decisions about talent mobility and career management, and respond strategically to critical skills gaps. We must also actively create a working environment that promotes psychological safety. SSC’s Accessibility, Accommodation and Adaptive Computer Technology program (AAACT) provides hands-on training programs for technicians in adaptive computer technology, accessibility boot camps for publishers, webmasters and application developers, as well as training and accessible document design and testing for public servants.

The Digital Academy offers digital literacy and skills development for public servants in areas such as service design, product management, change management and cloud computing. We will need to continue to build and manage these digital skills, with an emphasis on data literacy and cyber security. Additionally, the Canadian Digital Service’s material, published in the open, can be built upon to help scale the GC’s capacity-building efforts.

Data fuels horizontal collaboration and interoperability across government programs and services. The quick, targeted decision-making required for agile delivery relies on accurate and timely data. Leaders, policy-makers, program managers and front-line delivery officers must all be able to understand, analyze, interpret and present data in their day-to-day realities.

Cyber security awareness programs and technical training initiatives for employees are already in place. Such programs and training help keep our infrastructure secure, protect the sensitive data that the GC manages and train employees so that they design and deliver digital services to Canadians in a safe, secure and trustworthy manner.

Recognizing the rapidly changing digital landscape, we will ensure that we have access to the right skills, ideas and innovative approaches when needed.

Actions to achieve the priority

The GC is building a workforce for digital-first delivery by:

  • developing skills for digital delivery, accessibility, data literacy and cyber security
  • attracting and retaining diverse talent for a digital-first workforce
  • standardizing job descriptions, career progression and compensation
  • breaking-down HR siloes for visibility of cross-government availability of skills, especially those relevant to digital areas
  • assessing gaps in working models and tools necessary to enable hybrid and distributed ways of working across departments and expanding the suite of flexible working tools to ensure all departments can enable telework
  • baselining digital capabilities, talent and culture available across the GC
  • deploying product-centric teams to priority projects across the GC

Appendix A: related policy instruments, guidance, plans and strategies

Related policy instruments

Related guidance

Related plans and strategies

Appendix B: Government of Canada Service and Digital Target Enterprise Architecture

The Service and Digital Target Enterprise Architecture depicts the GC’s future state. The following diagram is divided into several parts, based on industry best practices, including business architecture, information and data architecture, application architecture, technology architecture and security. The adoption and execution of this model are addressed in this Digital Ambition.

Service and Digital Target Enterprise Architecture

Text version

The top row of the diagram shows examples of business programs and services, divided into two categories: front-office and back-office.

Examples of front-office business programs and services:

  • Pensions
  • Employment Insurance
  • Licensing
  • Payments
  • Grants and contributions
  • Tax filing

Examples of back-office programs and services:

  • Core finance (FMT)
  • Security screening
  • NextGen HR and Pay
  • Enterprise procurement
  • Cloud-brokering service

The second row of the architecture shows the top‑level business capabilities:

  • Legislation, regulation and policy management
  • Enterprise planning
  • Outcomes management
  • Relationship management
  • Compliance management
  • Program and service delivery
  • Information management
  • Government resources management
  • Corporate management

The third row lists the DevSecOps principles: Continuous integration and continuous deployments, automation of testing for security and functionality, inclusion of stakeholders

The fourth row identifies the various stakeholders: 

Externally, examples include:

  • Citizens
  • Businesses
  • International
  • Partnerships

Internally, examples include:

  • Employees, delegates, elected officials

Two examples of user authentication are presented under the external stakeholder:

  • Identity management
  • Sign-in Canada

A third example related to the internal stakeholders is GCPass.

The fifth row identifies channels and interfaces.

Externally accessible solution examples are:

  • OneGC platform: providing a tell-us-once experience
  • Omni-channel

The third example is related to internal users:

  • Digital workspace: GCexchange, GCTools

The next part of the graphic show the elements of the information architecture, application architecture and technology architecture.

Information architecture

  • For example, master data management, privacy (protection of personal data)  

Canada’s Digital Exchange Platform offers the following capabilities:

  • API store
  • Event broker
  • Bulk data

Application architecture is divided into two categories based on security requirements:

  • SaaS subscription feature
  • PaaS serverless hosted feature
  • IaaS broken into three parts:
    • Feature: IaaS
    • Runtime: IaaS
    • Data store: IaaS
  • Automations can be achieved through tools such as:
    • artificial intelligence
    • workflow engines
    • machine learning
    • low‐code platforms
  • Open source: solutions listed on open resource exchange

The information from these application architecture options is shared back to the Canada’s Digital Exchange Platform via APIs (application programming interfaces).

Secret and above Secret systems, features, data, and storage exposed and consumed via API plus exceptions to cloud-first policy.

Technology architecture

Public cloud is the recommended architecture for solutions that are considered Protected B or below from an identified security level.

Solutions above Protected B must use Enterprise Data Centres.

All the layers of the Service and Digital Target Enterprise Architecture rely on enterprise network connectivity.

Examples of enterprise network connectivity include:

  • Cloud-to-ground connectivity
  • secure cloud enablement and defence
  • cloud guardrails
  • network and cybermonitoring
  • GCSI
  • Related business continuity infrastructure

Along the right side of the graphic are two overarching principles:

  • Security by design: zero-trust authentication, authorization, encryption, tokenization and accreditation
  • Privacy: collection, use, accuracy, retention, and disposition


Footnote 1

BCG 2020 Digital Government Benchmark Survey.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

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