Canadian Governments Moving on Three Initiatives

On returning from the Joint Councils meetings in Fort McMurray, I came away with the distinct impression that Canadian governments are moving forward collectively on a number of initiatives.  “Collectively” doesn’t mean that all governments are on board with each initiative or that they are all moving at the same pace.  But in each case, there is encouraging momentum, with participation from all three orders of government.

The three initiatives are:

1.     Identity Management: Led by the Governments of Canada and British Columbia, it appears that Canadian governments are finally moving towards a workable solution in which citizens can use either government issued credentials (user ID and password) or those issued by third parties (initially the Canadian banks) to access government services – with the potential that the same credentials will be accepted across levels of government.  The Government of Canada has negotiated arrangements with three of the big five Canadian banks (BMO, Scotia Bank and TD).  Other banks seem sure to follow.  Several provincial governments are in various stages of adopting a similar approach.  Municipalities are now being brought into the mix.

2.     The Business Number (BN), issued by Canada Revenue Agency, is increasingly being used as a standard identifier for businesses accessing government services.  The BN is being adopted across the federal government and by six provinces (BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia) and the City of Winnipeg – the first municipality to come on board.  The BN supports more integrated services to business, including “tell us once” functionality, which allows updates to business information to be shared (with permission) within and across orders of government.

3.     Open Data has been adopted by the Government of Canada, at least four provincial governments (British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec) and more than 35 Canadian municipalities.  Perhaps more significantly, a standard Canadian Open Data Licence has been adopted by the Governments of Canada, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and at least five municipalities.  In addition to reducing costs to jurisdictions to develop their own licences, a standard licence allows an application developer to use data from multiple Canadian jurisdictions, without having to comply with different and sometimes conflicting terms of use.

The Joint Councils (Public Sector CIO Council and Public Sector Service Delivery Council) include the CIOs or heads of service delivery, respectively, from the Government of Canada, all provincial and territorial governments and three municipal representatives on each Council.  Since 1999, they meet 2-3 times annually and provide a platform for moving forward on initiatives requiring collaboration across levels of government.  While progress is often slow, the above examples indicate that inter-jurisdictional collaboration is real and worthwhile.

Roy Wiseman
Roy Wiseman is currently Executive Director and was a founding member of MISA/ASIM Canada. He is a Board Member and Past President of the Institute for Citizen Centred Service, Past President of MISA Ontario, former municipal Co-Chair of the Service Mapping Subcommittee and Project Director for the Municipal Reference Model (MRMv2) project.


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