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Digital Identity Working Group

Problem Statement:

In the absence of a harmonized approach to digital identity, Canadian jurisdictions are pursuing different digital identity solutions at different paces with no cross jurisdictional services to anchor the approach. This may compromise the ease of use for residents across jurisdictions in the future. This work stream identifies the different components of identity management on the national stage and the key decisions needed on each component to advance identity management in Canada.

Digital Identity management is a quickly-evolving field that is of public policy interest because of what a secure digital identity enables. Broadly, secure digital identities can allow Canadians to carry out high-value transactions online, in a more economically efficient and convenient environment. Secure digital identity can reduce identity theft and improve public safety and public confidence by making it more difficult to use identities fraudulently.

With respect to the narrower context of government operations -- secure digital identities can improve access to government services, regardless of a user’s location, that would normally require them to appear in-person.

In order to do this, Canadian jurisdictions and actors in the identity management space need to agree to adopt common standards for how different jurisdictions handle different components of identity management and different levels of confidence in the veracity of that information. Doing so will:

  • facilitate a seamless, convenient user experience across jurisdictions;
  • improve security by enabling real time validation of identity attributes across jurisdictions;
  • ensure that, even as jurisdictions work at different paces, we are all working towards a common understanding of identity management;
  • provide the foundation for uniform service levels online to residents of Canada no matter where a resident is located; and
  • realize operational efficiencies in our use of taxpayer dollars – by allowing residents who can/prefer to use online channels to do so rather than requiring they use more costly phone and in-person channels.

The private sector already leverages technology to allow users to carry out a high volume of low-value, low level of assurance identity transactions. Canadians expect to be able to interact with government services similarly. This work stream will parse out the work and effort needed to enable Canada’s residents to do the same, but for high value services requiring high level of assurance in the identities of the requestors.

Without a harmonized approach, there is a risk that the digital identity vacuum will be filled with disparate approaches to digital identity management. When jurisdictions work at different speeds, it means significantly greater investment may be required to achieve interoperability among jurisdictions in the future. If we can agree to a framework for our approach, we can all work within that framework at our own paces and be responsive to the unique needs of our constituents while ensuring that we are working towards a common vision.


  • September 2016 – Joint Council agreed to leverage the FPT DMs’ Table to accelerate priority initiatives.
  • December 2016-Jan 2017 the FWG completed one-on-one consultations with JC membership on JC and jurisdictional priorities.
  • February 2017 – FWG presented priorities research and analysis at in-person meeting.
  • April 2017 - Clerks and Cabinet Secretaries requested that identity management be accelerated more quickly.
  • May 2017 – FPT DMs’ Table Presentation on the Pilot Opportunities Working Group (POWG).

Roadmap Background:

  • February 2017 – Joint Council in-person meeting.
    • Identity Management was identified as top priority.
    • Alberta and British Columbia identified as co-leads for Identity Management.
  • October 2017 – Co-leads developed draft roadmap with input from all jurisdictions through the Identity Management Sub-Committee (IMSC) and the Framework Working Group.
  • December 2017 --Co-leads identified need for federal representation in priority work stream.

Roadmap Components:

  • Policy and Governance
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Pan-Canadian Trust Framework
  • Pilots
  • Technology

Please click here to access the full repository of the Digital Identity Working Group. Access is granted to members’ only. Password required.