Harnessing the power of innovation to deliver better government services in BC

Building a Stronger British Columbia for Everyone

The pandemic as a catalyst for change

The goal of any government – be it federal or provincial – is to look after its citizens and to provide them with the services they require. This is certainly the goal of the Government of British Columbia, and the Honourable Lisa Beare, the BC Minister of Citizens’ Services, says that they are working to tackle all those things that are important to British Columbians, from the housing crisis and healthcare, to ensuring we have safer communities and protecting our environment.The pandemic showed the need to build an economy that works for everyone by putting people first.

In many ways, the pandemic was  a catalyst for government. For many years governments all over the country and around the world talked about delivering services more efficiently and in new ways. Then the pandemic came along and suddenly governments were almost forced to react with such incredible speed and have programs up and running in three and four weeks that would have otherwise taken years. We were able to pivot, create hybrid workspaces and in many ways, achieve a new way of working. Now is the time to review and have important conversations about the lessons learned and how to apply the lessons moving forward. In other words, what should the new normal look like?

Embracing technology

One of the clear observations from the pandemic was that technology is at the heart of everything we now do. Many people became used to accessing government services online and as such, we can’t go back, we’re only going to go forward. In a real sense, this means having a connected province. It means providing high speed internet and connecting those who live and work in rural and remote communities as well as in indigenous communities by 2027. To do that, the province has entered into a partnership with the federal government and an $830 million MOU. 

Even before everyone is connected though, tech remains one of the fastest growing sectors, but the government needs to evolve with it and is doing that by investing in technology and working with industry. The BC Government recently created the Innovator Skills Initiative, which is giving opportunities for people to enter the sector and is helping companies to cover the costs of new employees. The expectation is that over the next 10 years there will be 100,000 job openings in the sector, and initiatives like this are designed to ensure that local talent stays local and that we have the people to fill those job openings.

With new opportunities though come new threats, and we are keeping our focus on cybersecurity. This becomes even more important as government and other services move to the cloud and as hybrid work becomes ever more popular, but we’re forcing organizations all throughout government to shift their approaches to cybersecurity, and we’re investing in modern security tools to support the public service.

Being more inclusive and collaborative

Even before the pandemic, the BC Government knew that to be better at what they do, they needed to engage. Over the past 5 years we have done more public engagement as a government than any other government before us. This has led to a need for greater inclusivity and thus the Ministry created the government digital experience (GDX) team to engage with the public on everything from building websites to online surveys and creating digitally inclusive services so that British Columbians can have their say. The team was instrumental in providing up-to-date COVID and vaccine information, but since then has continued to keep British Columbians safe, healthy and informed by ensuring that all the information they put out is translated into 12 languages in addition to English, and by increasing accessibility for all government services. This accessibility is for front counter services as well, so that they can provide essential information to everyone in our province, and they do it with heart. 

The goal now is to continue the really amazing work we’ve been doing and to build on it by working together. Currently the province like much of the rest of the country, is facing costs going up and other crises, but the goal is to continue to build a better life for people, families and businesses across BC.

Together we’re going to build that foundation for a long prosperity in the province, and we’re going to keep investing in services for our people, our economy and our public sector.

Honourable Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services, Government of British Columbia

 Featured speaker: 

  • Honourable Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services, Government of British Columbia
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