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Embracing Canada’s Digital Ambition 

By Rodney Helal, National Sales Director, Canadian Public Sector

Over the past two years, Canadians have moved much of our life online.  

This includes taking advantage of digital government services, something that an increasing number of Canadians have done over the past two years.  

To better understand the extent of this shift, VMware surveyed 1500 Canadians across the country to get their views on digital government services. The results confirmed the popularity of online services, with 88 per cent of Canadians having now accessed government services online.  

However, only 25 per cent of respondents felt that digital government services were better than those of the private sector, and only 50 per cent trusted the government with their data.  

As the Government of Canada looks to enable delivery of government in the digital age through the Digital Ambitions 2022 roadmap, there are a number of interesting findings that highlight both the opportunities and challenges in front of the federal government, as well as their provincial and municipal counterparts.  

Accessing Digital Services Online 

Our survey found that 88 per cent of Canadians have now accessed government services online, with more than half (51 per cent) accessing online services more often since the pandemic began.  

Going forward, two thirds (67 per cent) of Canadians said that they would prefer to access government services online rather than in person. The reasons why Canadians expect to continue accessing government services online are not surprising, with the top three reasons given being convenience, time required, and the ease of access to forms and information online.  

Unrealized expectations  

85 per cent of Canadians expect online government services to be as easy to access as digital banking, and 75 per cent expect it to be as easy to access as making a purchase from Amazon.  

However, only 25 per cent of Canadians feel that online government services are better than those provided by provided by private companies.  

There is no doubt that the government has made significant progress on digital transformation, but as digital services have gone from ‘nice to have’ to ‘must-have’, the government has not kept up with consumer expectations, or the private sector.   

Security and trust 

Two-thirds (66 per cent) of Canadians are willing to create a personal profile if it allows single sign-on access to government services. However, when asked to go a step further, only 39 per cent of Canadians would consent to the government having more personal data in exchange for providing more personalized service. 

This is an interesting example that highlights both the potential for transformation and the challenge of getting public buy-in. Digital ID is an important part of the Digital Ambitions 2022 roadmap, and the government has committed to launching public consultations and developing a common and secure digital identity framework.   

However, our survey found that only 50 per cent of Canadians trusted the government to protect their information used in online services, and only 48 per cent said they would be comfortable with government agencies sharing information with each other to create more integrated and streamlined experiences.  

Digital Ambition 2022 and the way ahead 

With the release of Digital Ambition 2022, the Government of Canada has the stated ambition: “To enable delivery of government in the digital age for all Canadians. This will be done by providing modernized and accessible tools to support service delivery that expresses the best of Canada in the digital space.”   

There is a lot to digest in this ambitious document, but when I think of VMware’s decades-long experience working with governments, as well as what we heard from Canadians on our survey, a couple of things stand out: 

  • The first is the urgent need to modernize the overall health of the government’s application portfolio. Consumers expect frictionless services that are easy to use and easy to access – but thousands of software applications that are used to deliver government programs are complicated and difficult to navigate.   
  • The second is the importance of trust and security. The lack of trust in government security presents real challenges to implementing the priorities in Digital Ambition 2022. When government security is compromised, it sets back the ability to implement many of the needed reforms.  

Our survey shows that Canadians have clearly embraced digital government and are looking for even better and more accessible service from federal, provincial and municipal governments. This is a huge opportunity for Canada, and VMware looks forward to working with our government partners to meet those ambitions in 2022 and beyond.   

Digital Government Services Survey – Key Findings at a Glance:  

Accessing Digital Services 

  • 88 per cent of Canadians have accessed government services online. 
  • 51 per cent of Canadians use more online government services online today than prior to March 2020.   
  • 67 per cent of Canadians would choose accessing government services online, 23 per cent would access services in person, and 10 per cent are unsure.  
  • The top three reasons for accessing government services online are: Convenience, Time Required, and Ease of Access to forms and information. 

Increasing Expectations 

  • 85 per cent agree that accessing government services online should be as easy as using online banking services.  
  • 75 per cent agree that accessing government services online should be as easy as purchasing from Amazon. 
  • 25 per cent agree that online government services are better than those provided by private companies. 

Digital ID 

  • 66 per cent of Canadians would create a personal profile if it allowed them to have single sign-on access to government services.  
  • 50 per cent of Canadians trust the government will protect information used in online services 
  • 48 per cent of Canadians would be comfortable if government agencies shared information with other agencies to create a more integrated service.  
  • 39 per cent of Canadians would consent to the government having access to more personal data in exchange for providing more personalized services. 

About the VMware Canada Survey 

VMware commissioned Hill+Knowlton Strategies to conduct a survey of 1,500 Canadians over the period of May 4th to 9th, 2022.  Sampling was done within age, gender, and region quotas.  The length of survey was approximately five minutes, and data was weighted on age, gender, and region according to 2016 census figures. An associated margin of error for a randomly selected sample of n=1,000 would be ±3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20. 

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