Government of Canada Releases New Digital Standards

The Government of Canada has been making major strides over the past year to digitize their services and programs, and this week they announced what sets of standards they will follow to ensure the process is transparent and successful.

These digital standards will serve as a foundation for how the Government of Canada will use technology to better enhance the quality of service they offer citizens, as well as manage the vast amount of information they oversee.

“The Government of Canada’s new Digital Standards represent a foundational step in the fast evolution of Canada’s government digital services,” said Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government.  “Government’s purpose is to improve the lives of people. These standards lay the groundwork as we embrace new methods and tools to improve how we design, build and deliver the kinds of digital services Canadians expect from a modern government.”

Techvibes sat down with Brison earlier this month to chat about digital government. It was then he said that “getting digital right can really help restore people’s faith in government in terms of our ability to understand them and fulfill their needs. It can also restore a sense of relevance that government has to people, that it’s important to me and helps improve my life.”

In order to fulfill that kind of expectation, digital standards are an important first step. These standards were developed through consultations with public and key stakeholders and will continue to evolve as technology advances. Below are Canada’s 10 key digital standards.

  • Design with users by conducting ongoing testing to understand needs and problems.
  • Iterate and improve frequently by using agile and user-centric models. Try new things and scale up.
  • Work in the open by default by sharing research and decision-making models. This means making non-sensitive data, information and code open to the outside world.
  • Use open standards and solutions by looking at open-source software and using solutions that any Canadian can use with any device or channel.
  • Address security and privacy risks by taking a balanced approach and making these settings frictionless for users.
  • Build in accessibility from the start to make sure users with distinct needs can be serviced correctly.
  • Empower staff to deliver better services by giving them the right tools to deliver the services they need to.
  • Be good data stewards by collecting data from users only once and reusing it whenever possible.
  • Design ethical services that ensure fair treatment for all parties involved.
  • Collaborate widely by creating partnerships with stakeholders and creating multidisciplinary teams.

As the linked out articles above may suggest, the Government of Canada is already at work when it comes to establishing these digital standards in the real world. As Brison’s role is less than a quarter-year old, there will be a lot of ground to make up when it comes to establishing a digital government, but these standards will be a good framework to go off.