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The Service Canada Initiative

The Service Canada Initiative had a clear mandate: first, to prepare a development plan, then to implement the solutions proposed in the approved plan and, finally, to evaluate the experience. Remember that the SCI aimed to change the government’s image by providing citizens with one-stop access to government services in a swift, reliable, accessible and less expensive manner, and that the project was at the experimental stage. The objective therefore was to establish and assess various innovative models for service delivery that subsequently could be extended to a region, group or all Canadians.

Five principles guided the work of the TBS working group to whom the mandate was assigned: 1) meet citizen needs and continuously improve service delivery; 2) integrate services through a one-stop centre; 3) offer a selection of other means of accessing the services; 4) support the transition to on-line service delivery; and 5) ensure the federal government’s visibility and presence in every region of the country.

A staff of about 20 was promptly assembled. Following the situation analysis, they designed an integrated service model (see Figure 1). The plan called for one service offered in three ways: by phone through the 1-800 O-Canada call centre; electronically through the Government of Canada website; and in person at access centres such as those already set up by HRDC, Canada Post and Canadian Heritage, for example. To facilitate access, services and programs are organized by clientele, special needs or concerns such as youth, seniors, hunting and fishing, lost wallets etc. Lastly, the focus was on integrating existing services rather than developing new ones, and this integration was to be achieved primarily through horizontal interdepartmental and interagency cooperation.

The proposal was quickly approved and the plan moved into the second phase of setting up a pilot project. This pilot project aimed at laying the groundwork for an integrated service network was allocated a $13-million budget for fiscal 1999-2000. It was innovative in the sense that it proposed the development and integration of several delivery models instead of just one. For example, an agreement was signed with HRDC to add a government information dimension to the employment-related access centres it was already operating by means of additional personnel that would guide and assist citizens seeking information. Appendix 1 briefly describes the experiment of this nature carried out in Saguenay/Lac St-Jean. In Manitoba, six community centres were created through a partnership with the Government of Manitoba, Canadian Heritage, and a few municipalities and community organizations. Here too the formula was unique. These centres offer a range of services for Francophone communities locally in a wide range of fields such as health, culture, education, recreation, employment and local development. This project is described in Appendix 2. In New Brunswick, service centres run jointly with the province provide information for both levels of government. Another innovative model was the Café Jeunesse that opened in Montreal. Some 15 departments teamed up with HRDC to operate the Internet café, which provides access to various information services for youth in a variety of areas such as health, employment, education and sports. Guides assist the youth in their search for information. Appendix 3 briefly describes this service delivery model.

Source: Service Canada – Strategic Business Plan1999-2000, p. 11.
Figure 1 Service Canada Delivery Model