October 2020
Ontario Releases Ontario Onwards Action Plan to improve government service delivery

2020-10-19 2:26:29 PM


On October 19, 2020, the Ontario government released its highly anticipated Ontario Onwards: Ontario's COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government, which aims to improve government services in a way that is customer-focused, digital and data-driven.

The Action Plan makes reference to the work already underway to pivot Provincial programs and services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing the underlying context for this work. Interestingly, customer profiles or personas have been included for some projects which capture an understanding of a user. This approach is common to user-centred design that speaks to the intent of the plan to be customer-focused.

Minister Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board, is the Cabinet lead for this project.

The Action Plan has three overarching goals:

  1. Make public sector services and service delivery modern and customer-focused.
  2. Make public sector digital and data-driven and put data at the centre of government decision-making.
  3. Increase efficiency, effectiveness and speed of government operations and decisions.
The action plan contains about 30 broad 'projects' falling under several focus areas: 
  • Making government services more digitally accessible: For example, digital health solutions to frontline care personnel.
  • Reducing red tape and simplifying policies while protecting public health and safety: For example, allowing a digital application process for development and construction projects. 
  • Improving government purchasing: For example, leveraging the combined bulk-buying power of the province.
  • Creating more responsible and flexible public services: For example, re-designing core internal processes or permit applications.
At this time as the projects are only defined at a high-level, it is unknown which ones may have implications for our members. However, a quick assessment of the Action Plan suggests several that could be of interest: 
  • Untangle Ontario’s permitting requirements by eliminating duplication between ministries as well as with other levels of government, and increasing predictability for approvals for business while ensuring the protection of the environment and public health and safety.
  • Establish a Burden Reduction Directive to make sure that government follows mandatory red tape reduction rules and goals.
  • Re-design core processes, such as approvals for program or permit applications, so citizens can get what they need faster and easier.
  • Make the Ontario Public Service more agile by supporting new ways of working and improving everyday services (such as getting a driver’s licence) by ensuring public service executives provide dedicated support to champion and drive improvement projects that speed up and simplify the delivery of critical government services.
  • Improve infrastructure planning and enable data-driven decision-making using new technologies, including the creation of digital infrastructure replicas and modelling.
  • Improve customer experience by reviewing government agencies for efficiency and effectiveness, with a focus on providing virtual and online services. Develop support programs and services that are more responsive to the needs of people’s businesses.
The Action Plan's themes and focus areas such as making government services more responsible, flexible and digitally accessible, reducing red tape and simplifying processes, directly respond to our advocacy efforts and recommendations over several budget submissions and policy reports and delegations.

Our team will continue to pursue the avenues available to us to ensure that the interests of all AMCTO members, also known as the #MunicipalExperts, are reflected in this important Provincial undertaking.



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