A webcast hosted by the Canada School of Public Service (CSPS) makes the claim that “a vast majority of Canadians want“ digital identities to access government services. 

The Oct. 6 event titled Paving the Path to Digital Identity for All is open for registration to “public servants at all levels.” 

“A vast majority of Canadians want safe and secure digital IDs to confirm their identity to access government services online seamlessly, from any device, anywhere, anytime,” the event description states. 

”Learn what public servants need to do to help pave the path to a secure, trusted, and harmonized digital ID ecosystem for Canadians.”

The CSPS is a Government of Canada body run by the Treasury Board. It frequently hosts events and learning courses for public servants on a variety of topics.

“Participants will have the opportunity to better understand what the use of digital identity involves, its impacts, how to prepare for its implementation, and what we can learn from others in the industry,” the CSPS explains.

“Experts across sectors will offer attendees a better understanding of how its application will affect public servants and others. They will discuss how to address issues around trust, security and privacy, through collaboration and with robust frameworks, policy, legislation, standards and guidelines.”

A recent poll surveying Canadians’ views on digital ID was published by the Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) – an organization partnered with a government advisory body with the purpose of creating a “Pan Canadian” digital identity infrastructure. The survey found that 82% of Canadians were very or somewhat supportive of having their identities digitized. 

The DIACC currently collaborates with the Public Sector Chief Information Officer Council (PSCIOC), which is composed of public servants from across all levels of government. The PSCIOC is part of the Institute for Citizen-Centred Service which evolved from an earlier government body established by the Clerk of the Privy Council in 1997. 

A letter of intent between DIACC and PSCIOC describes the group as a “government advisory/consultative” body comprised of “senior officials of the federal, provincial and territorial governments of Canada.” 

During a Feb. 1 webcast also hosted by the CSPS, DIACC President Joni Brennan pondered how digital ID could be used to track Canadians’ vaccination status for future pandemics. 

“I think that the identity is important for the pandemic—any time you would need to verify someone, anytime you would need to also do supply chain tracking and management about how do we even get the vaccine to people? How many people do we need to get it to? Have they had it yet or not? Are they due for their second dose?” said Brennan.

As first reported by True North, the Trudeau government unveiled its plan to introduce a federal “Digital Identity Program” earlier this month. 

Signed off by President of the Treasury Board Mona Fortier, Canada’s Digital Ambition points to the pandemic as a learning opportunity to help digitize government services. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for government services to be accessible and flexible in the digital age. The next step in making services more convenient to access is a federal Digital Identity Program, integrated with pre-existing provincial platforms,” the report explained. 

“Digital identity is the electronic equivalent of a recognized proof-of-identity document (for example, a driver’s license or passport) and confirms that ‘you are who you say you are’ in a digital context.”