Employment and Social Development Canada Departmental Plan

2020 - 2021 Review

In fiscal year 2020 to 2021, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) will

  • Modernize grants and contributions programs by focusing on 4 key areas: client experience, efficiency, innovation and stewardship. Examples include:

    • Improving existing grants and contributions service standards and implementing a new ?Time to Decision? service standard. This will inform clients of the expected timelines for receiving decisions after applications are submitted;
    • Updating application materials and web pages related to program delivery to ensure they are fully accessible and use simple language;
    • Publishing a new Call for Proposal calendar to inform clients when they can apply for funding;
    • Delivering a survey to measure client?s satisfaction and expectations of grants and contributions programs;
    • Launching an experiment to develop an applicant guide using behavioural insight to measure outcomes and develop guidance materials that result in more complete funding applications.


  • Employment and Social Development Canada will continue to experiment with innovative ways to address policy, program, and service delivery challenges, such as:

    • Aging population
    • New technologies that are changing the nature of work
    • Ongoing globalization of production and labour
    • Challenges for workers in energy-intensive provinces and territories
    • Difficulty recruiting specific skills
    • Trade disputes

Overall Risks and Mitigation

The department is committed to improving the design and delivery of its services to meet the changing expectations of Canadians.

Information Technology

  • A large portion of the department?s IT systems are aging, with some as much as 56 years old;
  • Underinvestment in maintenance and updating has resulted in an increasing risk of failure, and make it more costly and difficult to introduce new services and benefits to Canadians;
  • ESDC has received additional funding to make progress to replace and strengthen IT systems;


Fraud and wrongdoing are serious risks that could result in:

  • Inappropriate access or disclosure of Canadians’ personal information
  • The issuance of inappropriate benefit payments
  • Loss of Canadians? trust

Employment and Social Development Canada is implementing a renewed Fraud Framework that guides its approach to prevent, detect and address these threats.


The department will continue to protect the personal information about Canadians through measures such as:

  • Mandatory training for employees;
  • Monitoring the network for unauthorized access;
  • Security sweeps of offices; and
  • Increased cybersecurity protection.

Service Delivery

There is a risk that Employment and Social Development Canada will not be able to maintain the delivery of high-quality services while changing how it is delivering them. As a response, Employment and Social Development Canada is modernizing its technology and processes.

Emergency and Business Continuity and Physical security

To reduce the potential impact of threats, such as: natural disasters, workplace violence and the compromise of sensitive information, Employment and Social Development Canada provides its employees with security awareness training and prepares plans to respond to potential disruptions.

Modernizing Services to Canadians

ESDC will advance service transformation of its business processes and technology through the following activities:

  • Shifting the delivery of Old Age Security (OAS) benefits to the more modern Canada Pension Plan (CPP) IT platform. This will ensure that delivery of these important benefits remains stable. It will also allow for integrated processing of pension benefits and payments where possible;
  • Finalizing the scope and expected activities of the Benefits Delivery Modernization programme and taking the first steps towards the phased implementation to improve how Employment Insurance, OAS and CPP services are delivered to Canadians;
  • Continuing to modernize services through automatic enrolment and by having more options for online self-service such as secure, 2-way online communication with clients;
  • Migrating several call centres to a new contact centre platform to replace older technology and improve services to Canadians by reducing wait times and answering more calls;
  • Including self-service options in the call centre Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system that can be accessed by clients at all times. Clients will be able to:
    • be authenticated through the IVR;
    • get information on their current payment;
    • get information on their application status.
  • Finalizing consultations with its partners to ensure necessary tools exist to bolster identity management and protect personal information contained within the Social Insurance Number database;
  • Strengthening the department?s security program through the update of its security policy and related directives and guidelines to support a strong security culture. This will help ensure the ongoing protection of Canadians? personal information;
  • Continuing to take steps to ensure clients receive the benefits that they are eligible for by:
    • Proactively contacting potential recipients;
    • Expanding partnerships with other organizations to reach more Canadians directly;
    • Simplifying forms and application processes;
    • Making our services more accessible in person, online, and over the phone.

The department is refreshing its Service Strategy to guide improved operations and the client experience. The strategy will support the design and delivery of technology-enabled services that are focused on clients, empowered employees, integrated decision-making, and measurement and reporting on outcomes.

ESDC is pursuing the following initiatives in each region:

Western Canada and Territories

  • Deploy new technologies such as satellite receivers, mobile internet hubs, and portable scanners to address access barriers in remote and isolated areas

Atlantic Region

  • Put in place a new telephone system to make it easier for clients to access information for National Identity Services, the Employment Insurance Premium Reduction Program, the Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Program and Government Annuities
  • Continue to put in place the digital assistance service in Service Canada Centres to help clients access service quicker

Ontario Region

  • Increase service capacity and reduce wait times through the Community-Based Virtual Service initiative that connects clients to Service Canada officers by video chat

Core responsibilities: planned results and resources

ESDC will provide information by:

  • Ensuring wide availability of the Canada.ca window into the Government of Canada?s information and digital services, including the provision of support and guidance on major federal digital campaigns;
  • Ensuring that the telephone general enquiries program (1 800 O-Canada) continues to provide accurate information and accessible services to Canadians. This includes those served through various customized information services;
  • Providing ongoing support to departments that are managing their social media accounts through the Social Media Account Management Service;

ESDC will provide services by:

  • Publishing wait-times in real time for the 1 800 O-Canada service on Canada.ca to help Canadians decide when is best time for them to call;
  • Advancing Biometrics Initiatives in support of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada ? by collecting biometric data (digital photograph and fingerprints) from foreign nationals applying for renewal of temporary visas or permanent resident cards at Service Canada locations;
  • Improving the client experience by continuing to collect information, including the Client Experience Survey. This will allow Service Canada to identify client needs, and assess the impact of changes in service delivery.

Internal Services: planned results

ESDC will support management excellence and accountability as a part of Management and Oversight Services through:

  • Supporting privacy legislation and policy modernization initiatives;
  • Strengthening the department?s privacy management functions and service transformation activities.

As part of its Data Strategy, ESDC will improve the use of data via:

  • Experimentation under the Artificial Intelligence Strategy and the development of the second version of the Data Strategy;
  • Exploration of new ways of using data to improve evidence-based decision-making and improve service delivery;
  • The continued sharing of ESDC?S data with the public through Open Government and Open Data initiatives and encouraging the use of this data in community events;
  • The continued development of recruitment, retention and data literacy approaches to ensure that employees have the skills and tools needed to collect and use data.

The department is also working towards developing and implementing a modern and secure information technology infrastructure that enables efficient and timely availability of information. ESDC will:

  • Improve digital services by accepting electronic submissions of documents through the GCNet Wide Area Network, a new call-center technology platform. The department will also implement a document upload solution;
  • Modernize its benefits payments IT systems to ensure continued benefits delivery that meets the evolving service needs of Canadians;
  • Implement the Information Management (IM) Strategy and Roadmap to improve processing of physical records and the use of IM technology for information handling
  • Ensure employees have the tools to work in a modernized operating environment. ESDC will accomplish this by evaluating new technologies that reduce risks and increase business value;
  • Continue to mature its application portfolio management processes to guide IM/IT investments;
  • Provide technology solutions for employees with disabilities through the Accessibility Centre of Excellence.

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