Virtual success: Transport Canada’s remote workforce is paving the way for digital government

at-home workspace

It has been 10 months since Canada had to adapt to new ways of living and working due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Transport Canada continues to adjust, overcome challenges and deliver services to keep the transportation network functioning.

The majority of Transport Canada employees saw their daily lives uprooted and a whole new way of working thrust upon them starting March 16, 2020. It was then that public health authorities determined, for the safety of all Canadians, anybody who could work from home should do so.

Living rooms became offices, kitchen tables became desks, bedrooms became boardrooms, and family and pets became office colleagues. The department had already been on a transformation journey for two years and had been investing in digital advancements to modernize its suite of tools, including the use of Microsoft Teams. But full-time remote working would be a much bigger adjustment.

Thanks to those investments, the department was able to shift, practically overnight, to a new way of working, and barely missed a beat.

Through all the uncertainty and all the difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, public servants across the department worked diligently to keep the transportation system running smoothly.

For instance, Transport Canada inspectors had to adjust to new means of conducting inspections remotely. Elric Ladouceur, a Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) inspector and member of TDG’s Occupational Health and Safety Committee, was tasked with developing a means of continuing to perform inspections without putting employees at increased risk.

“The first thing we needed to do was to look at what control measures we would need to put in place to mitigate the risk,” Ladouceur said. “We also looked at the requirement to develop procedures that would guide our people to doing remote-type activities. It was important to meet our commitments, especially if we were not able to go out into the field.”

Digital tools have done wonders to keep departments like Transport Canada moving.

For most employees, working from home was only a small part of the adjustments they’d have to make. This year has not been easy, but through every unprecedented challenge, public servants continue to do their jobs and serve the Canadian public.

Every day, hundreds of hours of virtual meetings are logged, and the capacities of secure networks put to the test. Town halls and events, trainings and team gatherings have all seamlessly shifted online, thanks to the digital tools.

Today, Transport Canada continues to move ahead, innovating and forging a path to a more digitally enabled government.

What is certain in these uncertain times is that Transport Canada is well-equipped to keep pushing the boundaries of what this department can do with a largely remote workforce, whose accomplishments thus far have resulted in the productive and efficient functioning of the department in this new digital landscape.