Ontario is planning to go digital in a big way with the government recently
announcing its Building a Digital Ontario strategy to move our province ahead online. This strategy has involved two years of consultations with organizations, businesses, municipalities, experts and community members.
We’ve heard a lot about going digital for the last while, with a lot of it focused on shopping and ordering takeout online. But there’s so much digital can do to make it easier and more
cost-effective to access services, get help, and interact with our institutions.
The push to take government services and departments digital may be getting a little extra motivation from the current pandemic, but it has been a pressing need for years.
Our provincial government’s plans to go digital include:
Taking healthcare digital includes expanding virtual care options like video visits and secure messaging to find ways to best meet the needs of patients. It includes online appointment bookings and easier access to your own health information. For healthcare professionals, it means more tools and better data.
The Province plans to roll out a new digital ID this year. This will be optional electronic identification for both
individuals and business to prove who you are for
accessing services. People can use it to check in for virtual medical appointments, get a birth or marriage certificate, apply for government
assistance, or update
Businesses can use it as part of the hiring process, apply for grants or loans, open
business accounts, or verify the identity of customers or other businesses.
Being able to access more government services online means more immediate
results and the ability to
access services outside
traditional hours. The Province is also investing in making our businesses more competitive in a digital world through programs like Digital Main Street — offering grants, supports and
one-on-one assistance from experts.
Broadband and mobile
Access to digital services is only as good as the
connection. Both the federal and provincial governments are aggressively rolling out programs to improve access to high-speed broad band internet and mobile data. It’s estimated that as much as 12% of the province is unserved or underserved for internet access. This is key for any plan to improve digital access to healthcare, education, business and the workplace.
The Building a Digital Ontario strategy calls for more supports to help people learn the skills and tools to improve our overall digital literacy. Just as high-speed internet is key to making services accessible, people also need to know how to use it effectively and safely. Driving strong digital literacy will also improve people’s overall online experience, including access to their local businesses, while tackling cyber security issues like fraud and misinformation as part of increasing consumer confidence.
The Ontario government’s digital plan is a welcomed step forward. There is still room to improve and
progress with many
government offices, services, and institutions still
struggling to adapt to a less physical workspace and
access to the public.
Greater online access needs to go hand-in-hand with
increased security. The Province is promising the security will be there.
Hopefully, consumer confidence and digital literacy will help move it all forward.
Moving to a digital public sector is a big win. It will increase access for people. It will save businesses time and money. Ultimately, it will lead to a better, more efficient and more competitive Ontario.