Public Services > Central Government

Canada launches its own version of GDS

David Bicknell Published 19 July 2017

New Canada Digital Service mirrors creation of other government digital operations around the world


The Canadian government yesterday launched its own Government Digital Service: the Canadian Digital Service (CDS).  It follows the Canadian province of Ontario announcing the launch of the alpha of its Digital Service standard earlier this month.

The Canadian public sector’s push towards more digital government comes on the back of the creation of similar CDS-like organisations in the US, Australia, New Zealand and Italy.

In a blog post on the CDS website, president of Canada’s Treasury Board Scott Brison said, “Canadians deserve government services that are easy to access and to use. They expect their government to be focused on service to citizens. In the connected world of the 21st century, good service means digital delivery, whether you are ordering take-out, rearranging your mortgage, managing your prescriptions – or accessing government programs and services.

“The Government of Canada has an opportunity—and a responsibility—to deliver world-class services to Canadians. This will require disruption as we make the switch, both technically and culturally, to agile digital delivery models. To accelerate these efforts, I am excited to announce the launch of the Canadian Digital Service (CDS) to modernise the way the Government of Canada designs and delivers digital services.

He continued, “CDS will be a partner to departments in delivering measurably improved services. We are rethinking the service design and delivery process from the user’s perspective, and engaging users every step of the way.

“We’re going to grow digital capacity across government, amplify and replicate pockets of innovation, and solve common problems. We’re adopting proven (though sometimes new-to-government) technologies and ways of working and we will scale what works.”

He also promised agile working. “Agile digital government requires taking risks. We need to challenge assumptions, think experimentally, and constantly measure ourselves against that end goal: better service to Canadians. No doubt we’ll make mistakes, but we will make them at the alpha and beta stage, not after launching at scale. As I have often said, in this world you’re either digital or you’re dead. We can’t be a Blockbuster government serving a Netflix citizenry!

“We need to change the way we do business. CDS is just one tool in the kit, but it stands as a clear signal of our commitment. We aren’t the first government digital service in the world, but I believe we can be the best.”

The CDS will be led by executive director Anatole Papadopoulos. Other CDS leaders are senior advisor Lena Trudeau and director Pascale Elvas.

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