Interventions in Committee
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Alex Benay
View Alex Benay Profile
Alex Benay
2019-05-30 8:51
Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the invitation to appear before your committee. I'll begin with a few brief remarks and I'll be happy to take any questions you may have.
My name is Alex Benay. l'm the Chief Information Officer of Canada at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.
I am responsible for providing strategic direction and for the implementation of policies relating to service, information management, information technology, security, privacy and access to information across the federal government.
The finding in the Auditor General's most recent report identified opportunities where Treasury Board policy direction can be strengthened to better support improvements to call centres. The Auditor General made several recommendations that will help the Government of Canada fulfill its commitment to improve service delivery to Canadians.
Over the past few years, TBS has developed various policy instruments to help departments take a more client-centric approach to the design and delivery of services, including the development and publication of service standards. While we've made progress, we agree that there is still much work to be done.
l'm glad to say that we have already begun this work. Currently, the Treasury Board Secretariat is reviewing existing policy instruments, with the goal of identifying opportunities to strengthen policies to better support improved services through all service delivery channels, including call centres.
For example, we recently introduced a set of digital standards that will help guide departments and agencies in designing better services for Canadians. One of its key principles is to design and develop services with users in mind and to work with them to understand their needs and the problems we want to solve. While they may be called digital standards, they are, in fact, applicable to all the service delivery channels whether they are offered online, in person or by telephone.
In spring 2018, the government approved targeted amendments to the policy on the management of information technology and the policy on the management of information, setting the foundation for the long-term development of a comprehensive policy on service and digital for the Government of Canada.
This proposed policy will build on the client-centric principles of the current Policy on Service, and provide direction for the design and development of seamless, integrated services that meet the needs and expectations of the Canadian public.
We're also working on enhancing our existing guidance and tools to support the development and publication of clear and consistent client-centric service standards. Both the proposed new policy and its supporting directive and guidance will incorporate changes to ensure that government services have comprehensive and transparent client-centric standards, related targets and performance information for all service delivery channels in use, including call centres.
The Treasury Board Secretariat will continue to work with federal departments and agencies to ensure service standards for call centres are more consistent, meaningful and transparent to Canadians.
In closing, I look forward to your committee's report and recommendations on this important issue.
Thank you for your time, and I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.
View Terry Beech Profile
Lib. (BC)
Good morning, everyone. Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.
I'd like to start by thanking everyone on this committee for their hard work and for the relationship that we've been able to develop over the last number of months. Everybody on all sides has been very good about making sure that not only your riding issues are brought to the floor but also that we can work together on issues that affect the whole country. It has been a very positive relationship and I've enjoyed it greatly, so thank you.
Since the chair already introduced the staff, I'm going to move past that, but just know that there is a small army here as well, so if you have any specific details that you'd like to get into, we're well suited to get into the fine details.
I am here today to discuss the supplementary estimates (A). Specifically Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard are seeking Parliament's approval on $359.4 million for the following items: $166.7 million to maintain mission-critical services to Canadians, $145.5 million for the oceans protection plan, $32.2 million for the renewal of the Atlantic and Pacific commercial fisheries initiative, and $15 million to support negotiations on fisheries and marine matters.
Today, on behalf of the minister—and Minister LeBlanc sends his regrets for not being here today—I am pleased to share that our government has invested approximately $3 billion into the core operations for Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard through budget 2016, budget 2017, the oceans protection plan, and following a comprehensive program review. With these investments, Canadians will soon see a noticeable difference in the services they receive from Fisheries and Oceans and the Coast Guard. These important investments will improve the scientific evidence that decisions are based on, modernize aging infrastructure and IT capacity, renew efforts to restore habitat and rebuild depleting fish stocks, expand marine conservation and protection measures, create safer waterways for marine navigation, speed up response time for search and rescue missions, and strengthen our environmental response capacity.
These new resources will do more than just replace programs that have been lost in years past, as our oceans today face new threats with climate change, including flooding, droughts, and severe weather storms on every coast.
Our economy depends on safe navigation through waterways and ports that are busier than ever before. Our government has new priorities pertaining to reconciliation with Canada's indigenous people, working with municipal and provincial partners, and becoming global leaders in sustainable development.
The new investments will help DFO and the Coast Guard build the programs and services that Canadians need into the future. We know how much Canadians value DFO and Coast Guard programs. We understand how important these services are to Canadians. On the minister's behalf, I want to assure you that we are committed to maintaining those services related to Coast Guard's presence in inland waterways, that the Coast Guard dive team will remain at the Sea Island base, and that all elements of the salmon enhancement program will continue.
With significant, new investments in DFO and the Coast Guard, we will, in fact, be enhancing search and rescue services on all coasts and working with community partners on a number of ecosystem restoration projects. As you know, there are more demands on Canada's oceans and coastal areas than ever before. It is therefore vital that Canada have a plan in place that protects our oceans in a modern and advanced way and that ensures environmental sustainability, safe and responsible commercial use, and collaboration with coastal indigenous communities.
In order to meet these objectives, Prime Minister Trudeau announced a $1.5-billion national oceans protection plan last fall. I'm pleased to report that DFO, the Coast Guard, and other federal partners are making steady progress on key elements of this plan. For example, from a Coast Guard perspective, we are increasing search and rescue capabilities by investing in seven new lifeboat stations, four in British Columbia and three in Newfoundland and Labrador. A 24-hours a day, seven days a week emergency coordination capacity has been created within existing regional operation centres in Victoria, Montreal, and St. John's, complementing the new 24-7 emergency coordination capacity with the national command centre in Ottawa.
We are purchasing and installing emergency tow kits on 25 of the CCG's large vessels and leasing two new vessels on the west coast with the ability to tow large commercial ships and tankers.
We are creating four primary environmental response teams, which will strengthen the Coast Guard's on-scene capacity during marine pollution incidents. We are partnering with the Coast Guard Auxiliary to expand its network of over 400 search and rescue volunteers who engage in environmental response. We are also partnering with indigenous groups, coastal communities, and the private sector to ensure a faster and more efficient response to marine pollution incidents.
We are strengthening the Coast Guard's marine communications and traffic services centres to ensure uninterrupted communications with mariners.
The Canadian Coast Guard's efforts to deal with abandoned, derelict, and wrecked vessels, such as the ongoing operations related to the Kathryn Spirit and the upcoming work to be done to the Farley Mowat, speak to the organization's commitment, and that of its partners, to ensuring that such vessels of concern don't pose immediate risks to public safety or the marine environment.
This level of commitment will be enhanced by the oceans protection plan. Our government will continue to work in collaboration with provincial, territorial, municipal, and indigenous organizations to support the cleanup of smaller vessels that could potentially pose risks to Canadian coastal communities, while implementing a robust polluter-pay approach for future vessel cleanups.
In addition to this work, we have created a national, $75-million coastal restoration fund, which will be used for the preservation, protection, and restoration of marine environments and coastal habitat over the next five years. DFO scientists are undertaking a science-based review of three endangered whale species in Canada: the North Atlantic right whale, the St. Lawrence estuary beluga, and the southern resident killer whale. Online public engagement will be available soon. Harbour authorities, along with other eligible recipients, will have access to $1.3 million under DFO's small craft harbours program for the removal and disposal of abandoned and wrecked vessels from federally owned commercial fishing harbours.
Our government is committed to the long-term health of our oceans. In order to deliver on the minister's key priorities and commitments, a historic $1.4 billion is being invested in DFO and the Coast Guard over the next five years. Just to be clear, that is on top of the oceans protection plan. This will help shore up a number of key program areas, including an aging Coast Guard fleet; a wide range of communication towers, buoys, and maritime radars; search and rescue training; sustainable fisheries; conservation and protection activities; and the physical infrastructure and information technology the department needs to carry out its mandate.
The latest investment in DFO and the Coast Guard will also provide the resources required to support sustainable fisheries management, which includes the development and update of integrated fisheries management plans, or IFMPs. This will help address some of the concerns that were expressed by members of this committee and by the Auditor General. It will enhance DFO's capacity for conservation and protection, while investments in infrastructure and information technology will give employees the facilities and tools they need to do their jobs.
Before closing, I want to mention that the historic investments being made across DFO and the Coast Guard will result in the hiring of approximately 900 new staff, who will help deliver our ambitious mandate. DFO is working hard to accommodate this growing workforce.
Mr. Chair, this year Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday, but this is also a milestone year for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, whose heritage dates back to Confederation. While steeped in history, DFO is at the forefront of shaping Canada's domestic and global responses to very modem challenges. The historic investments I spoke about today will help ensure that Canada remains a world leader in all matters related to our oceans.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Ron Parker
View Ron Parker Profile
Ron Parker
2017-05-11 8:55
Madam Chair, we are pleased to appear before your committee to discuss Shared Services Canada's 2017-2018 main estimates and departmental plan.
With me are John Glowacki, Chief Operating Officer, Alain Duplantie, Chief Financial Officer and Senior Assistant Deputy Minister for Corporate Services, and Sarah Paquet, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister of Strategy.
Shared Services is mandated to modernize the government's information technology infrastructure. Created in 2011, we deliver email, data centre, network, and workplace technology device services, as well as cyber and IT security services to the departments and agencies across the Government of Canada.
Our work supports the digital delivery of programs and services such as employment insurance, pension benefits, and emergency responses. As outlined in our departmental plan, improving the delivery of IT infrastructure services is our top priority. As a recent example, SSC played a leading role earlier this year in managing the cyber-vulnerability related to a software called Apache Struts 2, which became a worldwide problem for government and private sector systems around the beginning of March.
Canada was well positioned to respond to this threat thanks to SSC's enterprise-wide security approach. This approach provides a better view of government networks and infrastructure, and therefore the ability to take quick and coordinated action for all departments and agencies that are part or our security perimeter.
Ultimately, all systems and services for Canadians remain secure as SSC coordinated with the Treasury Board Secretariat and the Communications Security Establishment to quickly isolate vulnerable systems and ensure the protection of government and citizen data.
This fiscal year is an important one for us. With our planned 2017-18 budget of $1.7 billion, we will continue to strengthen cybersecurity and refresh legacy mission-critical IT infrastructure. We will also build on our progress towards achieving our target state. Our goal, for example, is the consolidation of what's now estimated at approximately 700 legacy data centres to seven or fewer enterprise data centres. To date, we have closed more than 90 legacy data centres and opened two enterprise data centres. Construction is under way for a third enterprise centre in Borden, Ontario.
SSC's main estimates represent an increase of almost $176 million over last year. This is mostly due to the multi-year funding provided in budget 2016, which we're investing in a number of projects to maintain and replace legacy mission-critical infrastructure, critical IT equipment, and some security investments.
SSC is using these funds to replace more than 40,000 out-of-date components, such as older servers, networks and telecommunication systems.
This includes upgrades to a number of telephone systems, including six RCMP operational control centres in British Columbia for 911 capability.
We have also replaced 3,000 BlackBerry devices for Global Affairs Canada to ensure secure and reliable mobile communications at missions abroad.
Today many of the government's infrastructure components are reaching the end of their life cycles, and some are no longer supported by vendors. Our work in maintaining legacy equipment is therefore vital to keeping the operations of the government running smoothly to ensure continuity of services to Canadians.
Shared Services Canada also secures the integrity of the network systems and information. As I discussed earlier, the security we provide is a clear advantage for the Government of Canada. It did not exist before SSC.
Our cybersecurity efforts were supported by Budget 2016 funding of $77 million over five years. Our department collaborates closely with other agencies, such as the Communications Security Establishment, in putting in place security controls.
This work includes maintaining the integrity of the IT supply chain. To date, Shared Services Canada has performed more than 17,000 supply chain assessments and will continue to incorporate security controls for all of our procurements.
On procurement, I would like to mention that budget 2017 included proposed legislative amendments to make the delivery of IT goods and services simpler, easier, and faster. The proposed changes would amend the Shared Services Canada Act and were part of the budget implementation act.
This would allow the minister responsible for Shared Services Canada to delegate the purchase of certain items, such as workplace technology devices, directly from vendors through SSC's contracting vehicles. SSC will continue to set up IT contracts and ensure economies of scale. As well, we will continue to perform the supply chain integrity assessments to ensure only trusted equipment, software, or services are used in the delivery of services.
We welcome these changes as they will provide better service to our customers while ensuring value for money in enterprise security using our procurement tools.
This coming year, we will update the Government of Canada IT infrastructure plan to modernize IT infrastructure and government-wide cyber and Internet security.
The updated IT plan will reflect lessons learned from SSC's early experience as well as the broad-based consultations we held last year with SSC employees and other federal public servants, Canadians, and industry. Overall, we received more than 2,500 submissions from stakeholders. The updated plan will also reflect the views of parliamentarians, the Auditor General, and the independent panel of experts commissioned by the Treasury Board Secretariat.
Once the plan is considered by ministers, it will be our road map for the subsequent three years. It will include timelines for moving to a simpler, smarter, and more secure government-wide platform.
We have already taken action on some of the recommendations.
For example, we have developed a service management strategy to deliver service excellence and improve the planning, costing and delivery of our services to customers and Canadians.
As part of this, we survey chief information officers every month, asking them questions on five key areas: timeliness, ease of access, positive outcome, process aspects, and engagement experience. This past March, we scored 3.2 out of 5, up from 2.71 in July 2016, and the highest we've scored to date. This is an important achievement, reflecting the heroic efforts of our employees. We must continue, because there is still a lot to do.
We are also in the process of renewing all business arrangements with our customers. These arrangements clearly identify the IT services and support we provide, as well as our service performance standards. They are a key part of our commitment to quality service delivery.
We're also increasing the agility of government IT. This includes completing a collaborative procurement process to establish standard and secure access to commercially available cloud services for unclassified data for all of our customers. Among their many benefits, cloud services will permit easier and faster access to compute and storage services. They will also allow government workers to be more innovative in how they offer services to Canadians.
Much remains to be done to modernize government IT, but we are making steady and important progress. We are also proud of the partnerships we have established with our customers and what we've achieved together.
Madam Chair, this concludes my remarks. We would be pleased to take the committee's questions.
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