In this section you'll find themes including rising to the challenge, service excellence, better design, and getting the message out.
Rising to the challenge
Once again this year, the Public Service showed courage, resilience and professionalism, going above and beyond in times of crisis. Public servants mobilized to keep Canadians safe and secure. I am proud of their contributions.
Last spring, 100 communities in Quebec and Ontario were affected by flooding. It forced 4,000 people to leave behind their homes and life possessions. Public servants mobilized to come to their aid. Canadian military personnel helped to prepare for the floods and with rescue relief. Public servants worked around the clock to manage the flood water flows so that the public and responders could travel safely and without delays. The collaboration between these teams and their selfless commitment to duty made all the difference.
The 2017 wildfires in British Columbia were the worst in the province’s history. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces stood shoulder to shoulder with provincial colleagues to help those affected. Many other public servants mobilized to deliver services, such as replacing lost government-issued documents for the 65,000 citizens displaced by the fires and providing emergency tax relief measures and guidance. This allowed affected Canadians to focus on their families, homes and businesses.
In September 2017, a wildfire burning in a remote area of southeastern British Columbia spread to Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta. Public servants sprang into action as the fire roared through the park and into surrounding ranch lands. Parks Canada team members joined forces with the Province of Alberta, municipal fire departments, and local communities. Together, they worked tirelessly to protect the town site of Waterton and park buildings. They bucketed in water by helicopter, created fire guards and prepared for evacuation. Three public servants lost their homes to the fire, but promptly returned to work to continue supporting the response efforts. While the fire heavily damaged or destroyed many buildings, the valiant efforts of everyone involved saved the town site of Waterton, and ensured that no one was seriously injured.
This past year also saw a marked increase of refugee claimants at land borders across the country. Asylum claims more than doubled over the previous year. Departments, provinces and community partners worked tirelessly, treating asylum seekers with compassion while preserving the security and integrity of the Canadian immigration system. We also greatly improved processing times for refugee claims and increased capacity in places where people were attempting to enter Canada illegally.
The Public Service demonstrated impressive drive in mobilizing expertise to respond to these challenges. I believe that we need this level of drive and agility to shift people and resources to address emerging priorities of the Government and citizens. We have more work to do—and I will return to this theme at the end of this report.
Millions of Canadians depend on government services each year—to access benefits, obtain social insurance numbers or records of employment, submit their taxes, obtain passports and cross borders. These services help Canadians through some big transitions. So it is no surprise that they want quality services that are convenient, easy to use and focused on their needs. And they want to be able to access them 24/7 on mobile devices in the official language of their choice, and in formats that are accessible for all. Canadians also expect the Government to protect the systems where their personal and business information is stored against cyber attack.
What does this look like for Canadians? It means more accessible, connected and bundled services. And more than ever before, this means access to digital tools. For example, starting in 2017, Canadians now have one-stop access to their benefit and tax information whenever they want it, all through a single login. Linking Canada Revenue Agency and Employment and Social Development Canada portals has helped Canadian users navigate more easily between these online services more than 3.6 million times.
Canada ranked #1 in the International Civil Service Effectiveness Index 2017
We have modernized processing for travellers at Canada’s major international airports, which is helping to minimize wait times. Upon arrival, Canadians can now verify their identity and make an on-screen declaration using a primary inspection kiosk. This means that passengers can move through customs more quickly and efficiently.
The Canada Revenue Agency is making its information easier for Canadians to understand. The Agency evaluated its approach to the over 130 million letters it sends out each year. It found that the old-fashioned format and complex language were in need of an update. So it launched a modernization project. The first phase involved re-working correspondence such as taxpayers’ notices of assessment. It used client feedback and behavioural insights to adapt the style and nature of the correspondence. With clearer font, layout, and headings and more direct language, the new design makes the information easier for Canadians to read and understand. The work continues and as of February 2018, approximately 90% of correspondence has been modernized.
In January 2018, Employment and Social Development Canada launched automatic enrolment for the Guaranteed Income Supplement benefit. This monthly non-taxable benefit is available to eligible Old Age Security pension recipients living in Canada who have a low income. This means that each month, up to 17,000 seniors who turn 64 years old will be automatically enrolled for the benefit without ever having to complete an application.
While public servants are continuously improving how we serve Canadians, we know that much work remains. We need to maintain our focus on the user experience—how clients feel as they navigate our services. This means designing services that are intuitive to use. It means providing valuable and credible information, in both official languages and in formats that are accessible for all. At the same time, we must remain vigilant against cyber attack, to protect information shared by Canadians who access these services. The National Cyber-Security Strategy, announced in Budget 2018, will contribute to these efforts.
Better design, better service
Canadians expect reliable and immediate access to services online. To achieve this, the culture of the Public Service must value inventiveness and exploration. In this way, we can improve approaches to service delivery that make the most of new technologies.
This is why the government has created the Canadian Digital Service. Launched in July 2017, the team works with federal departments to build simple-to-use, cyber-secure online services, designed from the client’s perspective. This approach takes lessons from similar digital services in Canada and around the world. The team is currently bringing together top talent to solve real problems using agile methods and modern technology. It is working with partners to determine the right digital solutions to better serve Canadians, and to help replicate innovations that work across federal organizations.
Budget 2018 made further investments in digital services at the Canada Revenue Agency and Shared Services Canada.
Getting the message out
Today, Canadians are informed through more channels than ever before. The Public Service has had to reimagine how we provide up-to-date, useful information to the people who need it. We must also engage Canadians on how they would like to receive information. That way, we can improve and adjust our approaches.
After the Government launched the Canada Child Benefit in July 2016, Service Canada’s network was able to reach 96% of Canadians. But many Indigenous Peoples on reserve and in the North were not applying for the benefit. Public servants set to work to understand and address barriers to participation. They engaged reserve and northern communities, reaching 8,450 people through over 800 information sessions. As a result of community feedback, Service Canada launched a series of service pilots in 19 communities that address barriers to participation. This community-driven design of outreach has been adopted as the model for ongoing outreach at Service Canada.
From funding to expert advice, there are hundreds of government services designed to help businesses grow. But entrepreneurs do not always have the time to find the right services to help them innovate. Innovation Canada has designed a digital platform that makes it simple to get “matched” with the best program or service. To develop it, public servants worked directly with businesses and adopted a lean and agile design process. This has already saved many hours for tens of thousands of Canadian businesses. And the platform includes more than just Government of Canada programs. In less than two minutes, businesses can find over a thousand programs and services from across the federal, provincial and territorial governments in Canada.
During hurricanes Irma and Maria, which brought destruction to many parts of the Caribbean, Global Affairs Canada made smart use of technologies to communicate advice to Canadians. The consular team was able to rapidly collect, prepare and send out advice for over 20 destinations using email, text messages, social media accounts and the Travel.gc.ca website. Social media messages pointed Canadians towards key consular resources, shelters and evacuation options. As well, social media served as an alternative method for Canadians to contact government officials. Travel.gc.ca social media messaging received over 4.6 million views throughout the hurricane crises.
In the fall of 2017, Shared Services Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada worked in partnership to plan and successfully bring online a high-performance computing solution. This supercomputer technology will enable the government to provide more accurate forecasts and warnings of severe weather events like tornadoes and hurricanes. This increases the safety and security of Canadians, and benefits families who rely on accurate weather forecasts. In addition, it provides capacity to support scientific research and modelling of complex weather systems and their effect on the environment. These models are valuable across the economy, including for the health sciences, environmental management, agriculture and transportation sectors.
No drones zones
When new restrictions on drone use came into effect in 2017, Transport Canada used dynamic social media infographics to inform Canadians about "no drone zones" and drone safety. There was a special focus on holiday periods when people are more likely to receive drones as a gift.
Parks Canada mobile app
Parks Canada offered free admission to Canada’s national parks in 2017, and provided creative tools, like the Parks Canada mobile app, to enhance this experience. The app provides information and resources for every stage of a visit, from finding site locations and planning, to discovering hidden gems, to sharing experiences on social media.
In October 2017, the Canada Revenue Agency launched the first phase of its BizApp, a mobile web application for small business owners and sole proprietors. The app allows users to check their balances owing, view transactions and make payments by pre-authorized debit to corporate, GST/HST, payroll and excise duty accounts.
Drugs and new trends app
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police designed a free Drugs and New Trends app. The app informs users about drugs, their effects and where to find help. The app has proven to be a valuable resource and working tool for law enforcement agencies, addiction workers, educators, and health, social and correctional services personnel. It has evolved to meet the needs of these wider communities, based on today's trends.
Service Data for 2016 - 2017
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