Service Through Technology, Both New and Old

As of last week, residents of Newfoundland and Labrador can order birth, marriage and death certificates online. Previously, residents who wished to order certificates could only do so in person, by fax, or by snail mail.

Newfoundland and Labrador is the third Atlantic province to make this service available online, and the eighth in the country to do so. Keith Hutchings, the minister responsible for the office of public engagement, said that “this latest initiative offered through Service NL is another way of connecting citizens with the Provincial Government, its agencies and departments in meaningful and innovative ways.”

In a similar vein, Prince Edward Island announced this week that residents of the province can call 811 to access non-emergency health information from a registered nurse. The nurse can advise people on medical issues, direct them to the appropriate care provider, or simply help them navigate the health care system. The service is available 24/7, in more than 120 languages, including French, Cantonese, and Arabic.

We’ve talked a lot lately about what governments can do to improve services for citizens, especially now that we have the Internet and mobile at our disposal. Last year, our editor-in-chief wrote about how various provinces were using the Internet to communicate with citizens and offer services, though he noted that “only six governments even qualified to be assessed” in the study he sourced in his article. So it’s good to see even more governments now embracing a simple, convenient, and accessible method of service delivery.

It’s also heartening to see governments use older technology – like telephones – to provide a service that citizens might not have thought of, and at the same time relieve the burden shouldered by the health care system.

What other services do you think governments could move online? Let us know in the comments.

Amy Allen
Amy Allen is a staff writer with Canadian Government Executive magazine. You can connect with her at

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