Ontario Moves One Step Closer to Becoming a World-Leading Digital Jurisdiction

Ontario Moves One Step Closer to Becoming a World-Leading Digital Jurisdiction

First digital and data strategy emphasizes online privacy and security, supports economic recovery to help people and businesses prosper in a digital world

April 30, 2021

Treasury Board Secretariat

Government and Consumer Services

TORONTO — The Ontario Government is introducing its first Digital and Data Strategy, Building a Digital Ontario, which brings the province one step closer to becoming a world-leading digital jurisdiction. This strategy includes over two dozen new and established initiatives that will equip the province’s people and businesses to succeed, and will play a critical role keeping Ontarians safe, secure, connected and supported in the digital world. Many jurisdictions around the globe have already begun this work, and Ontario is now laying the foundation to ensure that the province is meeting and exceeding the work of other jurisdictions.

Building a Digital Ontario is the culmination of over two years of consultations with individuals and businesses about their digital and data priorities. They told government that the province needs clear direction and leadership from the government on these priorities, and that there needs to be a greater focus on protecting people’s privacy, data rights and online security. The strategy responds directly to this feedback, which will shape the future of service delivery for the province, support Ontario’s economic recovery and help cultivate future growth.

As an extension of the ongoing transformational work of Ontario Onwards: Ontario’s COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government, the Digital and Data Strategy is another way the government is working to give the people of Ontario more convenient, reliable and accessible services, now and for years to come.

“People expect and deserve access to vital programs and services digitally, at their fingertips, with unprecedented speed and convenience. That’s why our government has been rapidly expanding access to online options while preserving in-person services, investing in innovation and harnessing the power of technology,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board, Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for Digital and Data Transformation. “Building a Digital Ontario is our plan to keep Ontarians safe and secure online, while mobilizing new opportunities for economic growth in a more connected world.”

Building a Digital Ontario will help ensure the people of Ontario are:

  1. Equipped to succeed — Ontarians will have the skills and access to participate and work in a digital world;
  2. Safe and Secure — people will trust that their privacy is protected and they are safe when they interact or do business online;
  3. Connected — Ontarians will have access to the data they need to make good decisions for their health, education, life and business; and
  4. Supported — people will enjoy convenient, reliable and accessible citizen-centred services that are available when and where they need them.

The Strategy will also track the government’s digital progress, and includes bold new initiatives such as a ‘Know Your Data Rights’ website and consultations to establish a new provincial Data Authority, which will position Ontario as a digital leader on the world stage.

In summer 2021, Ontario is inviting the public, organizations and businesses to help us shape the design of a new provincial Data Authority — the first of its kind in Canada. It will be responsible for building modern data infrastructure to support economic and social growth, while ensuring that information is private, secure, anonymous and cannot identify people individually. The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario will be consulted throughout the development of the Data Authority. The Data Authority will house datasets from across the province online and set out the rules of the road for how we value, manage and use this data in our daily lives.

An Ontario Data Authority would work with trusted partners such as research organizations and municipalities to leverage secure and reliable data sources to understand our province, do business, grow the economy, and respond to changing labour trends. For example:

  • Small business owners could find better information about community needs and local services and supports, so they can get their products to market faster;
  • Farmers and crop producers could find the information they need to optimize production, processing and distribution of local foods to maximize yields and drive greater economic growth to deliver the world’s safest food supply; and
  • A local government could conveniently access data about labour markets across the province, so they can find and attract skilled workers to their region — something the province heard directly during consultations.

Ontario is also starting work in 2021 on a new website called ’Know Your Data Rights,’ a trusted source of information to help Ontarians learn how to better protect their personal data, take action if their rights are not being respected, and stay safe online. The website will help people make more informed decisions about how, when and where they share personal information online, and who they share it with. It will also offer guidance to businesses about how to keep customer data safe and how to meet key privacy and security requirements.

“A customer-centric digital experience is what busy Ontarians and businesses deserve when they interact with our government,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services. “Our Digital and Data Strategy is packed with industry-leading cyber solutions, data standards, and protections that form the foundation for accessible, reliable, and secure government programs and services. Building a Digital Ontario will strengthen practices across the public service and put Ontario ahead of the pack in our increasingly digital operating environment.”

Quick Facts

  • Building a Digital Ontario responds directly to the feedback received over a two-year period from more than 1,300 individuals and organizations representing over 40,000 businesses, 400 municipalities, and 10,000 professionals.
  • Data is one of our most valuable resources. In 2018, Canadian businesses invested approximately $40 billion in gathering, processing, and utilizing data, and the value of Canadian data assets is now estimated at over $200 billion.
  • Ontario Onwards: Ontario’s COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government, includes more than 30 projects that are changing the way people and businesses interact with government, with a focus on making government services more digitally accessible.
  • The 2021 Budget commits a historic new investment of $2.8 billion in broadband infrastructure to ensure that every region in the province has access to reliable broadband by the end of 2025. This brings the province’s total investment to nearly $4 billion over six years. This proactive approach is the largest single investment in broadband, in any province, by any government in Canadian history.
  • Ontario expanded access to online appointment booking and provided more virtual health care options to make health care simpler, easier and more convenient for Ontarians.
  • The government launched its first micro-credentials strategy in fall 2020, investing $59.5 million over three years. Micro-credentials are rapid training opportunities for Ontarians to learn in-demand skills, and may be offered online.
  • The government is consulting with industry on how the province could introduce a secure digital identity for Ontarians by the end of 2021, allowing citizens to safely verify their identity, online or in person.
  • By the end of 2021, the province is eliminating the use of traditional fax machines in government operations, in favour of simpler, more convenient digital options like electronic forms and faxes that use the internet instead of telephone lines to transmit information. Shifting to modern digital tools can save time, increase privacy and security of data and information, and, in many situations, will be more accessible and easier to use than fax machines. Ontario is also challenging provincial agencies and Broader Public Sector partners to consider following its lead in eliminating traditional fax lines.

Additional Resources

  • Learn more about Building a Digital Ontario, including what Ontarians told us they wanted during consultations, our progress so far and what’s next.
  • Learn more about how the government is transforming services for the people through Ontario Onwards: Ontario’s COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government.

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