Digital Transformation in the age of COVID-19

Erika Henley, Executive Director, HR Policies and Operations at Transport Canada, works from her home.
Erika Henley, Executive Director, HR Policies and Operations at Transport Canada, works from her home.

Even as COVID-19 limited access to government offices, did you stop to wonder how Transport Canada employees managed to stay connected and continue working to quickly introduce a series of new measures to limit the spread of the virus and keep our supply chains intact? Without missing a beat, they consulted, developed, and introduced legal changes to defer the cruise ship season, limited international arrivals to four airports, and established new safety guidelines for workers in air, marine and road transportation.

What is the secret to maintaining services while employees practiced physical distancing? Transport Canada’s digital transformation agenda! With many initiatives already in progress before the COVID 19 pandemic, Transport Canada’s Digital Services team was well placed to accelerate these efforts.

Within the first few weeks of the requirement for most of the department to stay home to work, the Digital Services team:

  • Provided 700 tablets to employees who needed equipment to work from home
  • Doubled Transport Canada’s network speed and increased the number of network connections so all employees working from home could connect to the office
  • Rolled out MS Teams to all Transport Canada employees—up from about 50% in early March—to help them hold meetings, discuss strategies and resolve important issues in real time
  • Enabled digital signatures for many internal processes

The Digital Services team is also looking at how to continue to improve the services that Transport Canada provides to Canadians. Some of the projects include upgrading services at Transport Canada Centres across Canada to provide services such as licences and certifications more quickly and easily. The team is also building a mobile inspection report application for air, marine and rail inspections, which captures all the information needed for our inspectors to effectively complete reports in the field in real time.

In the end, the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic have paved the way for continued digital transformation at Transport Canada, and laid a strong foundation for the ongoing modernization of its services to Canadians.