Archived - Policy on Service

Establishes a strategic and coherent approach to the design and delivery of Government of Canada external and internal enterprise services.
Date modified: 2019-08-02

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The Policy on Service is no longer in effect.  It was replaced by the Policy on Service and Digital and the Directive on Service and Digital on April 1, 2020.

1. Effective date

1.1 This policy takes effect on October 1, 2014.

1.2 It replaces A Policy Framework for Service Improvement in the Government of Canada (2000).

1.3  Policy requirements 7.1 and 7.2 take effect on October 1, 2014.

Policy requirements 7.3, 7.4, 7.5, 7.6, 7.7 and 7.8 take effect on October 1, 2015.

Policy requirement 7.9 takes effect on October 1, 2016.

Policy requirement 7.10 takes effect on October 1, 2017.

2. Application

2.1 This policy applies to "departments" as defined in section 2 of the Financial Administration Act, with the exception of the Office of the Governor General's Secretary and the staffs of the Senate, House of Commons, Library of Parliament, Office of the Senate Ethics Officer and Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, and unless excluded by specific acts, regulations or Orders in Council. Other departments or separate agencies not subject to these provisions are encouraged to meet these requirements as good practice.

2.2 Sections 8.1b, 8.2, 9.2 and 9.3 relating to the role of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat in monitoring compliance and directing consequences for non-compliance do not apply with respect to the Office of the Auditor General, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, the Office of the Information Commissioner, the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages and the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner. The deputy heads of these departments are solely responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the policy within their departments, as well as for responding to cases of non-compliance in accordance with any Treasury Board instruments that provide principles and guidance on the management of compliance.

2.3 This policy applies to external and internal enterprise Government of Canada services.

3. Context

3.1 Every day, the Government of Canada delivers a broad range of services. External services range from those that have a strong client orientation to those where the protection of the public interest is the primary focus. The delivery of external services relies on internal services, which support a public service that operates well.

3.2 Excellence in the design and delivery of services promotes confidence in government, and contributes to achieving public policy goals, outcomes as outlined in departmental Management Resources and Results Structures, efficient service delivery, and better service experiences for clients.

3.3 Clients expect effective services that are integrated, simple, timely and secure. To meet these expectations, consideration must be given to the needs and feedback of clients and the implementation of strong service management practices.

3.4 Delivering services more efficiently can be achieved by migrating clients to emerging and lower-cost channels, such as e-services, mobile e-services and social media, and through adopting alternative service delivery mechanisms and partnerships with other departments and jurisdictions.

3.5 Services are designed and delivered to reflect the equal status of English and French as the two official languages of Canada and obligations of the Government of Canada as set out in the Official Languages Act. Services are designed and delivered so as to be accessible to persons with disabilities, and personal information provided by clients is managed in the interests of protecting their personal information, in accordance with the Privacy Act, and their privacy.

3.6 The design and delivery of services require consideration of client service (e.g., ease of access and use, accuracy, timeliness) and stewardship, security and integrity dimensions (e.g., provision of assurances that appropriate controls are in place). Identity validation and the ability to securely interact with clients on-line play a critical role in a "tell us once" approach and in the delivery and uptake of e-services.

3.7 This policy is issued pursuant to section 7 of the Financial Administration Act.

3.8 The Treasury Board has delegated to the Secretary of the Treasury Board the authority to issue, amend, and rescind directives and standards to support this policy.

3.9 This policy is to be read in conjunction with the Policy on Government Security, the Common Services Policy, the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, the Guide on Improving Service Performance for Regulatory Authorizations, the Policy on Official Languages, the Policy on Service Standards for External Fees, the Policy on Transfer Payments, the Standard on Enterprise Resource Planning Systems, the Standard on Optimizing Websites and Applications for Mobile Devices, and the Standard on Web Usability.

4. Definitions

4.1 For definitions of terms used in this policy, refer to the Appendix: "Definitions".

5. Policy statement

5.1 Objective

The objective of this policy is to establish a strategic and coherent approach to the design and delivery of Government of Canada external and internal enterprise services that is client-centric, realizes operational efficiencies and promotes a culture of service management excellence.

5.2 Expected results

The expected results of this policy are the following:

  • Better service experiences for clients;
  • Increased number and uptake of priority e-services; and
  • More efficient Government of Canada services.

6. Principles

6.1 Deputy heads are responsible for applying the following principles to achieve better and more efficient design and delivery of Government of Canada services:

  • 6.1.1 Client-centric service: Services are designed and delivered considering client needs and feedback, and are progressively e-enabled.
  • 6.1.2 Operational efficiency: Services are designed and delivered in a cost-effective manner, considering opportunities for standardization, integration and re-engineering.
  • 6.1.3 Culture of service management excellence: Services are designed and delivered based on strong service management practices.

7. Policy requirement

Deputy heads are responsible for ensuring that:

7.1 A service inventory is developed and updated annually.

7.2 Learning opportunities regarding service-related knowledge and client-service excellence are given to service providers at the commencement of employment and on a regular basis.

7.3 A mechanism to provide feedback and to address client service issues in a timely manner is available to clients.

7.4 Priority services are reviewed regularly to identify opportunities for service redesign, improved usability, channel integration and mobile optimization, and, where appropriate, adopt best-in-class service delivery approaches, alternative service delivery mechanisms and partnership arrangements.

7.5 A multi-year departmental service management strategy is developed and implemented in alignment with the Government of Canada service direction, and progress is measured annually.

7.6 A user engagement approach to promote awareness and uptake of e-services is developed.

7.7 Service standards and real-time service delivery performance information for priority services are available to clients on for external services and on internal collaborative tools for internal enterprise services.

7.8 Mandatory external and internal enterprise services are adopted where available.

7.9 The proportion of external and internal enterprise e-services is increased annually, according to a department's service management strategy.

7.10 Priority authenticated external services are e-enabled, with real-time application status available to clients.

8. Monitoring and Reporting Requirements

8.1 Deputy heads are responsible for the following:

  1. Monitoring compliance with this policy within their department and taking corrective action as needed; and
  2. Providing reports or information as requested by Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat to confirm compliance with this policy, including through existing reporting mechanisms, such as the Management Accountability Framework, or through an annual confirmation that requirements are being met.

8.2 The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat is responsible for the following:

  1. Oversight and monitoring of the compliance with this policy by deputy heads, including through existing reporting mechanisms, such as the Management Accountability Framework, or through an annual confirmation that requirements are being met;
  2. Recommending to the deputy head that corrective action be taken when a department has not complied with the requirements of this policy; and
  3. Establishing a framework for the review of this policy and ensuring that a review is initiated within five years of the effective date of this policy.

9. Consequences

9.1 The deputy head is responsible for investigating and acting when issues arise regarding policy compliance. The deputy head is also responsible for ensuring that appropriate remedial actions are taken to address these issues within the department.

9.2 If the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat determines that a department may not have complied with any of the requirements of this policy, the Secretary of the Treasury Board may request that the deputy head:

  1. Conduct a review or an audit to assess whether requirements of this policy or its supporting directives or standards have been met. The cost of such an audit or review will be paid from the department's reference level; and
  2. Take corrective actions, in keeping with the Framework for the Management of Compliance, and report on the results achieved.

9.3 Consequences of non-compliance with this policy and supporting directives and standards, or of failure to take corrective actions requested by the Secretary of the Treasury Board, may recommend to the Treasury Board the following:

  1. Limits on the spending authority of the department; and
  2. Imposition of any other measures determined appropriate in the circumstances.

10. Roles and responsibilities of other government organizations

Note: This section identifies other significant departments in this policy area. In and of itself, it does not confer an authority.

10.1 The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat is responsible for providing policy advice and guidance and for communicating with, and engaging departments on the plans, progress, risks and challenges associated with implementing this policy and related instruments.

11. References

11.1 Legislation

11.2 Related Policies / Publications

11.3 Other Publications

12. Enquiries

12.1 For questions on this policy, please contact Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Public Enquiries.

Appendix A: Definitions

alternative service delivery:

The departmental and structural dimension of improving governments' performance in delivering programs and services to citizens and businesses. It includes the following mechanisms: privatization, franchising/licensing, public-private partnerships, purchase of service, devolution, delegated administrative authority, and agency and direct delivery.

authenticated service:

A service that relies on a credential assurance to carry out a transaction securely (see the Standard on Identity and Credential Assurance).

better service experience:

Enhanced service experience considering, but not limited to, the following aspects: timeliness, accuracy, ease of access and use, and knowledgeable and courteous service providers.

channel integration:

Strategies aimed at consolidating, either physically or logically, client information and its use to provide an all-encompassing view of the client.


Individuals, businesses or their representatives served by or using services provided by a government department.

departmental service management strategy:

Outlines the department's multi-year overall approach to managing and improving its external and internal enterprise services and includes:

  • Annual objectives, expected results and progress measurement;
  • A governance framework;
  • Risks and mitigation strategies; and
  • Priorities, plans and targets.
E-service / e-enabled service:

The provision of a service that can be completed on-line from end-to-end, except in circumstances where it is prohibited by law or security considerations.

Government of Canada service direction:

The overall direction for the design and delivery of Government of Canada services as articulated in the Policy on Service and related instruments, as well as through the annual federal budget, Speeches from the Throne, strategies and related Government of Canada publications.

learning opportunities:

Diverse learning methods or tools, formal or informal, to generate awareness or acquire knowledge about the design or delivery of Government of Canada services such as information or orientation sessions, video, information provided via internal collaborative tools, manager debriefs, account sign-on notifications and electronic newsletters.

mechanism to provide feedback and address service issues:

Diverse methods or tools, formal or informal, to collect feedback from clients and to resolve service issues not related to decisions or appeals, such as an ombudsman, a generic departmental e-mail or social media account and questionnaires during service delivery.

priority services:

External and internal enterprise services, determined by each department considering one or more of the following: volume (e.g., transactions per year), importance of service to clients (e.g., entitlements, permits, benefits, authorizations, mission-critical services), use of sensitive personal or commercial information, cost-benefit analysis, and affordability.

real-time service delivery performance information:

Refers to information on the current level of performance that clients can expect to be provided for a service.


Provision of a specific final output that addresses one or more needs of an intended recipient and contributes to the achievement of an outcome. Government of Canada services include:

external services: A service where the intended recipient is a client that is external to the Government of Canada; and

internal enterprise services: A service provided by a Government of Canada department to other Government of Canada departments intended on a government-wide basis.

service inventory:

A catalogue of external and internal enterprise services, including the identification of priority services, that provides detailed information based on a specific set of elements (e.g., channel, client, volume, etc.).

service provider:

Individuals directly involved in providing a service, including managers.

service standard:

Public commitment to a measurable level of performance that clients can expect under normal circumstances.

user engagement approach:

Outlines the department's efforts to raise awareness among clients of the availability and use of e-services.

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the President of the Treasury Board, 2017,
ISBN: 978-0-660-09949-1

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