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Canadian digital identity strategy to emphasize open standards for interoperability

Ecosystem approach brings in private sector


Canada has launched a new strategy for its digital operations, which focusses significantly on the need for trusted digital identities built in open standards for public and private sector interoperability, and upgraded authentication methods for citizens and government workers alike.

The ‘Digital Operations Strategic Plan: 2021-2024’ outlines the context, strategy and priorities of the government, emphasizing the importance of trusted digital identity to the country’s future delivery of government services. Strategic pillars are identified, along with priorities for each, and actions to implement those priorities.

The plan includes a new ‘OneGC’ integrated platform for access to government services through the trusted digital identity, with the latter implemented through “a common and secure approach.”

Government services that require authentication will use a common enterprise solution for a single sign-on. Open standards will be used to foster usability, and to fit Canada’s credentials and digital government services within a larger digital identity ecosystem.

“By adopting approved trusted digital identity frameworks, the government will establish a common approach that will facilitate connections with various levels of government across Canada,” the plan says.

Treasury Board Secretariat Senior Policy Analyst for Identity Management Tim Bouma said in a LinkedIn post that the emphasis on trusted digital identity as a fundamental enabler of “seamless and frictionless security,” the use of trusted digital ID frameworks to enable connections between different levels of government, and the use of open standards are the items of progress within the plan.

Administrative privileges will be secured be strong authentication mechanisms such as multi-factor authentication.

The Canadian government has an online authentication service, which has been rebranded as Sign-In Canada, and it will be updated to enable it to accept trusted digital identities issued by provincial and territorial governments, as well as private sector credentials.

An internal authentication service for government workers is also part of the plan.

Canadians already see digital ID benefit for public services

Roughly two out of three Canadians want to access government services online, whether federal (69 percent), provincial (70 percent) or municipal (65 percent), according to a new survey from ServiceNow.

Almost three in four surveyed for ServiceNow’s ‘Citizen experience in Canada report’ said they are more willing to access government services digitally due to the pandemic. Navigating the system, however, is enough of a challenge for 46 percent to need someone else’s help.

Most Canadians already want digital ID for public services, as 82 percent say it would be convenient, 81 percent say it would be faster, and 78 percent say it would make accessing public services easier.

Survey respondents can also see the benefits of increased digital government services extending to the COVID vaccination process.

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