Code for Canada’s programs connect government innovators with the tools, training and talent they need to build digital services that are simple and easy to use, and result in better outcomes for residents. Our engagements with government demonstrate what’s possible when the tools, methods and efficiencies of the internet era are applied to public sector challenges.
Connecting learners in Ontario with opportunities
Code for Canada fellows worked closely with staff at Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) to prototype a new digital product for for adult learners. The tool seamlessly combines traditional information about adult education programs with knowledge of wraparound services like childcare, internet access or transit subsidies, making it easy and simple for learners to take the next step in their journey.
The development process included extensive user research with adult learners across the province, from Ottawa to Thunder Bay. The fellows worked iteratively, developing lightweight prototypes and then refined the tool based on feedback from users.
Officials at MTCU described the product as “the foundation on which the future adult education experience can be built on” and reported that the fellows’ iterative, user-centred approach to product development fostered greater collaboration between the ministerial partners responsible for adult education in Ontario. MTCU staff have since embraced agile development, and are now exploring how it can be applied to other policy and program challenges.
“Working with the fellows has inspired us to embrace more agile and user-centered approaches to the way we tackle policy and program challenges beyond just the digital solution.”
– Lisa Bifano
Senior Policy Advisor at Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
Fellowship survey respondents in government who felt the fellowship met or exceeded expectations
Adult learners engaged in user research, focus groups and interviews
“It helps open doors and liberate the way we do things – from small things like a presentation or how a meeting is run. Basically it’s challenging the status quo of what is possible and what we do.”
– Fellowship survey comment from MTCU staff
21st century services for 21st century veterans
Benefits at a Glance is a new digital tool built by Code for Canada fellows in partnership with Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) and the Canadian Digital Service (CDS). The tool helps veterans navigate the robust — but complex — benefit programs offered by VAC, incorporating plain language descriptions of services, a personalized search function, and features that provide a seamless transition between online and offline interactions between veterans and frontline VAC staff.
The tool is now publicly available as an alpha version, and will soon be helping veterans across Canada access and receive important benefits.
The team at VAC reported that working with fellows showed them “change is possible” and provided valuable lessons for enabling digital transformation across the department. VAC has since hired a new service design manager to apply lessons from the fellowship more broadly, and to scale the Benefits at a Glance tool to better serve those who have served their country.
“Five years ago … if you came to me and told me I’d be working with a federal department doing transformative service design and UX-led work I would have totally not believed you. The fact that I’m standing right here speaks to how far we’ve come and how much promise there is in the work we’re doing to make civic change and impacts happen for Canadians.”
– Farzad Fazeliani
Manager of Service Design and Delivery at Veterans Affairs Canada
Pages of user research notes based on 11 hours of one-on-one interviews with Canadian veterans
Fellowship survey respondents in government who felt the fellowship product met or exceeded their expectations
Making digital learning accessible for public servants
Code for Canada has been working with Ryerson University’s Chang School of Continuing Education to deliver Digital Government and Civic Tech (CVUP 110). The seven-week continuing education course makes digital learning accessible for government innovators by grounding practices like agile development and human-centred design in a government context.
Participants report greater knowledge of — and confidence in — digital methods, and many have applied learnings from the class to their own work in the public service.
In addition to the in-person course, Code for Canada delivered the first online version of the class in early 2018, and taught the course material as a condensed digital “boot camp” for teams at the Government of Ontario. Overall, the success of the course has provided Code for Canada a strong foundation from which to scale up our educational offerings in 2019.
“It made it easy to adopt the techniques at work the next day . I’d already practiced and gotten feedback from the diverse group of peers in my class, and felt confident about how to apply new skills to my role.”
– Denis Carr
Open Data Supervisor for the City of Toronto
Iterations of the course have been offered, with a seventh scheduled for Jan. 2019
Students have taken the class, either in person or online
Ryerson students unanimously said they would recommend Code for Canada courses or workshops to a colleague
“The topics in this course are very important in terms of changing the way the public service operates, particularly in relation to technology.”
– Ryerson survey respondent
Focused support for government innovators
Since launching Civic Hall Toronto in May 2018, we have worked closely with our 13 member teams from the City of Toronto and the City of Markham to provide training that addresses their unique needs and accelerates their work on specific projects. We have delivered workshops in topics like digital government and human-centred design, and connected members with experts in talent recruitment, procurement reform, service design and more.
Training is offered by, or in collaboration with, members of Toronto’s civic tech and civic innovation communities. This allows Civic Hall Toronto members to see how challenges similar to theirs have been addressed in other sectors, and encourages them to apply methods from outside government to their work inside City Hall.
Recognizing that government innovators also have a lot to teach one another, Civic Hall Toronto’s training programs have also created opportunities — both formal and informal — for public servants to connect with colleagues in other jurisdictions (or even just other departments) and share learnings.
“Civic Hall Toronto is bold and will bridge the gap between the city and citizens. It is unlike anything Toronto has ever seen.”
– Adil Dhalla
Executive Director at the Centre for Social Innovation.
Government teams signed up to receive training and support through Civic Hall Toronto
Public servants who have attended Civic Hall Toronto workshops on digital government and human-centered design