Mr. Speaker, last year I spoke on the government’s Service Innovation Strategy. Today I would like to provide an update. The Service Innovation Strategy has many parts and is ultimately intended to improve government services to the public, whether online, by phone or in person. It supports our 17th Legislative Assembly goal of “Effective and Efficient Government”.
Last Fall, the Northwest Territories hosted the annual meetings of the Public Sector Service Delivery Council and the Public Sector Chief Information Officers. The two Councils composed of members from jurisdictions across the country, work collaboratively to enhance public service to Canadians and bring together service leaders from the federal, provincial and territorial governments to share information and best practices.
These Councils are an invaluable resource for the Government of the Northwest Territories as we work toward improving our services to the public and adapting many of our services to an online channel.
During the meetings, we had the opportunity to showcase the work being done by the Department of Executive Government Service Officers in our smallest communities. Both Councils were most impressed, noting that the GSOs are this government’s human equivalent of a one-stop shop for government services in the regions. GSOs connect people, information and services, by providing one-on-one support to residents of the smallest communities who may need additional help getting online and other services offered by the GNWT, federal or municipal governments.
The GNWT is committed to improving service, so measuring satisfaction is key. Along with our participation in these Councils, the GNWT is participating in two national surveys which track resident and business satisfaction with government services. The results will be used to identify areas for improvement and focus our resources better.
A key area we have been trying to improve, is making it easier to search and find information and services online. One of the ways we are doing that, is by providing a consistent user experience to anyone visiting our websites. GNWT departments are now required to use common standards when they develop or update their websites. This will help ensure people are able to find the information and services they need, regardless of which department website they are visiting. The Department of Finance is currently updating its website in accordance with these standards.
Providing easy-to-find information on government services was the first priority of the Service Innovation Strategy. The Service Directory website – which is an online, searchable website of GNWT services, was launched in December 2013. It made it easier for residents to find information on government services. Next on the horizon is a refresh of our flagship GNWT website. We are also looking to create a portal for easier access to all online services, and hope to make that available in early 2016. Both of these initiatives are designed to improve our ability to connect and communicate with citizens in ways that they prefer.
Recently, we established a trusted method for departments to put services online and for residents to create secure credentials when signing up for online service, using a username and password of their choice. The Department of Transportation was the first to incorporate these new features, which now allow residents to renew or cancel their vehicle registrations online, book a driver exam, or obtain a driver abstract. Residents are able to reprint receipts online, for any of the services they have used. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment will be next, as they introduce this new secure method with their online services, including a “myECE” portal with Student Financial Assistance and Apprenticeship services. Several other services are being planned to use the same approach, and will be rolled out over the next two years.
Online services work best when we have sufficient bandwidth and telecommunications services in all communities. Mr. Speaker, with construction of the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Optic Link now underway, we look forward to the improvements this important initiative will bring for both government service and community access. This strategic piece of infrastructure is going to play a key role in moving the NWT into the digital economy, making us a global leader in remote satellite sensing and improving services for Northerners.
We are also active participants in Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission proceedings and in federal government broadband initiatives which might impact Northerners, such as recent discussions with Industry Canada regarding the Connecting Canada funding.
All of these initiatives and more to come, in order to ensure we can meet you online.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.