TORONTO — The Ontario government released an action plan to make government services simpler, easier to use, and more convenient and accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Ontario Onwards: Ontario’s COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government includes more than 30 projects that will improve the way people and businesses interact with government, saving them both time and money.
Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford and Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board and Chair of the Future State Modernization Committee, a newly established Cabinet committee working to bring major changes to the functions of government in response to COVID-19.
“From the big banks down to family-owned restaurants, Ontario’s business owners have had to adapt to meet the needs of customers during COVID-19, and government is no exception,” said Premier Ford. “The fight against COVID-19 has accelerated our progress to bring more government services online, reduce the amount of paperwork and red tape for individuals and businesses, and ensure we can procure supplies more efficiently, whether it’s personal protective equipment or online learning tools for students.”
The Action Plan is a roadmap to make public sector services more customer-focused and digital- and data-driven, while increasing the speed of government operations and decision-making. Through it the government is focusing on:
- Making government services more digitally accessible, such as providing new and improved digital health solutions to frontline care personnel, so they can rapidly and securely access a patient’s health records from anywhere and from any device.
- Reducing red tape and simplifying policies while protecting public health and safety, such as reducing barriers to development and construction approval by allowing a digital application process to get shovels in the ground faster on transit and housing projects.
- Improving government purchasing by leveraging the combined bulk-buying power of the province, while taking advantage of the world-class capabilities of local Ontario businesses, to transform how the government purchases goods and services, so the province can have the supplies it needs.
- Creating more responsible and flexible public services, such as re-designing core internal processes or permit applications, so citizens can get what they need faster and easier, such as driver’s licences and health cards.
“The world has changed, and government must change with it. Building on what we’ve learned, we are undertaking an across-the-board modernization of the entire government,” said Minister Bethlenfalvy. “This includes major efforts to expand the range of programs and services available online and simplify the government’s role in people’s lives and their businesses. Our aim is to put the people at the center of everything we do.”
One of the projects identified in the Action Plan is developing a digital identity, based on digital wallet technology. Starting in January 2021, the government will consult with industry on how the province could introduce a secure digital identity for Ontarians by the end of 2021, allowing citizens to safely verify their identity, online or in person. A digital identity will make life easier and more convenient, while protecting people’s data and helping to combat identity fraud. For example, using a digital identity:
- A senior could check in to a doctor’s appointment online. This touchless registration would support COVID-19 safety protocols;
- A small business owner could cut through red tape by registering for licences and permits and opening accounts online; or
- A student could skip a trip to the bank to open their first account by verifying their ID online.
More details about each of the projects are included in the Action Plan and will be announced in the coming weeks and months.