Evidence of meeting #15 for Government Operations and Estimates in the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was services.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Marie-Chantal Girard  Acting Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat
Annie Boudreau  Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management Sector, Treasury Board Secretariat
Paul Wagner  Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategy and Transformation, Treasury Board Secretariat
Karen Cahill  Assistant Secretary and Chief Financial Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat
Samantha Tattersall  Assistant Comptroller General, Acquired Services and Assets Sector, Treasury Board Secretariat

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

Thank you.

I appreciate the answer from Mr. Wagner and Minister Fortier. I will say, though, that I can see how, if anybody is watching this and has concerns about the potential for a digital ID....

I don't know that we got a great answer other than the federal government is going to leverage what the provinces are already gleaning. I think there will be some concerns about how that information will be shared. Will my personal health card information or my personal medical records be shared? I hope that all members are maybe looking to do a study on this, potentially, to get some of these questions answered. A briefing would be great.

Another topic has to do with digital transformation and cloud computing. In 2018 there was a white paper, but there really hasn't been much information since 2020. What percentage of government is actually hosted in the cloud today? I think in the U.S. it's over 50%. What percentage is hosted in the cloud for the Canadian government?

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Before I ask Paul to maybe give the right data about what is in the cloud, I have to tell you that the new chief information officer and I have been working on making sure that we bring forward a digital government that is good for Canadians and on making sure that we deliver better services to Canadians through digitization.

I will let Paul focus on the cloud question.

4:25 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategy and Transformation, Treasury Board Secretariat

Paul Wagner

I would say that between 5% and 10% of our services are currently in the cloud. We're actually evolving our cloud strategy. In terms of the strategy you spoke to, you spoke about “cloud first”. We're now evolving that into “cloud smart”, looking at where it is appropriate for us to move services into the cloud in a very safe and secure manner, as the minister mentioned, in terms of making sure that privacy is of the utmost importance and ensuring that it's a balance between improving service delivery for Canadians and reducing our overall technical debt.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Robert Gordon Kitchen

Thank you, Mr. Wagner.

We'll now go to Mr. Jowhari for five minutes.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Majid Jowhari Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Welcome to you, Minister and officials.

I'm going to stay on the theme of digital government. Unfortunately, you didn't get the chance to expand on some of the work our government is doing, especially with the new mandate from the Prime Minister, around digital resources. Naturally, we all know that during COVID, the gap that already existed also highlighted certain opportunities that we could capitalize on. Can you expand on what TBS is working on to ensure that the advancement in digital services is supplemented with a focus on access across government services?

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

I have to say this is really the focus on making sure we deliver better services to Canadians. We did have, through COVID-19, the opportunity, I have to say, to go faster because we didn't have a choice. We needed to make sure that our digital opportunity was there to support Canadians. Those efforts to deliver “secure” was one of the very important aspects. Secure, seamless services and information were our focus in four key areas.

The first one is modernizing the way we replace, build and manage our IT systems. The second is providing services to people when and where they need them. The third one is to take a coordinated approach to digital operations. Lastly is to tackle long-standing institutional barriers to change and innovate.

That is why we're continuing to put this effort into building upon a strong policy framework and a set of digital principles characterized by accessibility, information and data, cybersecurity, and above all user needs.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Majid Jowhari Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Can you briefly comment on the number of departments that are moving in that direction and have implemented some of the digital resources needed to help Canadians access their information?

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

I can say that a whole-of-government approach is being brought forward. I don't know if Paul wants to add some specific answers on where departments are at this time. I can tell you that we are pushing for a whole-of-government approach in the digitalization of the services.

Maybe Paul can add a couple of data points.

4:30 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategy and Transformation, Treasury Board Secretariat

Paul Wagner

I think, if you look at Canada, we have a policy on service and digital. We're one of the only countries that has actually integrated service and digital from a policy perspective, so as organizations modernize their services...and even during the pandemic, we created a service officials council that brought together the service leads from departments to begin to have conversations, or in many cases continue those conversations—they started without the council—to look at how we can actually continue to integrate service delivery and digital.

I was speaking recently with colleagues from the United States who were looking at our policy and how we've developed this. They're looking at that as an implementation possibility within their framework as well.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Majid Jowhari Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Thank you. It's great that we're aligning our policies and our services together.

One of the indicators is always a measure that adequately talks about the success of Canadians being able to access our services. I see there's a new indicator for this in the departmental results, namely the degree to which Canadians are successful in completing tasks on Government of Canada websites. Can you speak to this and how it will be measured? How will it help inform us about some of the future digital efforts we have to make?

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Thank you again for a very thorough question on how we're delivering services to Canadians and making sure that the quality of those services is up to par.

I will ask Karen to go into details.

Before she does, I just want to mention to all members around the table that as much as our government is putting a lot of effort into making sure that we digitalize our services, we are working with provinces, territories, municipalities and the private sector to get the best practices because we all have to work together.

One difficult situation that we have all across Canada is we need more capacity in IT knowledge and human resources. I know that by working together we'll be able to tackle the fact that we need to go faster. But we have to do that in a good, quality manner.

Maybe Karen can add how we're doing that.

April 26th, 2022 / 4:30 p.m.

Karen Cahill Assistant Secretary and Chief Financial Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Thank you, Madam Chair.

This is a very good question.

We are going to have more surveys of Canadians about their satisfaction with accessing our website. I will also point out that the Canadian Digital Service is working very hard to ensure that our websites are fully accessible to Canadians with respect to the services we provide to them. Those are measures that we will put forward.

In our departmental plan, you are seeing that we have a target of 70%, and by surveying Canadians about how easy it is to access our services digitally, we will be able to provide measures in future plans.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Robert Gordon Kitchen

Thank you very much.

We've now come to the end of our first hour of the meeting.

Minister, I want to thank you for being here. I'm assuming that you are still staying with the schedule. The questions were so jovial and your answers were so great that you might want to stay for the next hour, perhaps.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

I would love to but, unfortunately, I have another engagement.

I do want to thank all members for your thorough questions. Everybody did their homework, so thank you very much, and we'll get back to you with those answers in writing.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Robert Gordon Kitchen

Thank you, Minister, and I want to thank you for the hour. You're always welcome back, and please do come when we get the chance to invite you.

We don't have to suspend at this time, so we will continue on with the questioning with the officials, as they are staying, and we have one new official here.

Mr. McCauley, go ahead.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

I have a couple of quick questions.

When are we going to have the updated mandate for federal public servants released? My understanding was that it was supposed to be a few weeks ago.

4:35 p.m.

Acting Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Marie-Chantal Girard

Are you referring to the vaccine mandates?

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Yes.

4:35 p.m.

Acting Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Marie-Chantal Girard

The vaccine mandates are currently under review. The policy on vaccination—

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

I realize that. The simple question is when will we have the updated...?

4:35 p.m.

Acting Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Marie-Chantal Girard

We are currently gathering the data and doing the analysis, and it should be coming shortly.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

It's past the six months. When will we have the update, please? There are a lot of people—

4:35 p.m.

Acting Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Marie-Chantal Girard

At the six-month point—

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

—who deserve an answer.

4:35 p.m.

Acting Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Marie-Chantal Girard

Very shortly. At the six-month point, the review started.