BY JINNY SIMS
Minister of Citizens’ Services
PEOPLE are at the heart of what we do at British Columbia’s Ministry of Citizens’ Services.
Some of you may have wondered what the Ministry of Citizens’ Services is all about.
This ministry is quite distinct and has nothing to do with immigration or citizenship which is essentially a federal government responsibility.
We provide a wide range of services to British Columbians across the province, both in person and online. From BC Service Cards to Information Technology Infrastructure, to Freedom of Information, we help deliver services that people count on.
We are also responsible for the management of Government Properties and Real Estate services, BC Online and also help the British Columbians access services through the BC Services Card.
For British Columbians looking to get a driver’s licence, access social services or start a business, Service BC is often the first step. With 62 offices around the province and assistance provided in person, online or over the phone, our dedicated staff are standing ready to help you obtain the support you need from government. I would like to encourage all British Columbians to get a BC Services Card as it makes it easier than ever to access government services, both in person and online.
The BC Services Card is the most secure and fraud-resistant form of identification we have ever had in this province. It replaces the Care Card with a chip-enabled identification that can also double as your driver’s licence.
High-speed internet access is a major priority for me, the Ministry of Citizens’ Services and the BC government. Our aim is to connect the entire province so all communities living in every corner of BC have access to high speed internet services.
Recently we partnered with the Federal Government to announce a $45.4 million investment that will see the placement of a sub-sea fibre optic cable along the northern BC coastline from Prince Rupert to Vancouver, and around Vancouver Island, providing 154 rural and remote communities including 56 First Nations and Indigenous communities, with the opportunity to connect to the internet. This project will open up new economic and social opportunities for an estimated 175,000 British Columbians.
This work is not just about creating the jobs of tomorrow and growing our digital economy. Modern connectivity enables and improves access to services like online learning, health programs and emergency response.
The staff in Citizens’ Services know the importance of securing investments in our digital infrastructure. Every day, we are engaging our partners in the private sector and local and federal governments to bring the latest technologies to British Columbians across the province.
And while we work to connect this province to the digital universe, we use technology in other ways as well.
Just like you do at home or work, government conducts its business on networks that need to keep pace with changes in technology. The Ministry of Citizens’ Services helps government obtain modern IT tools like software and computer systems to run its websites, service the public and enable our staff to interact and collaborate with one another.
The Ministry of Citizens’ Services monitors government networks 24 hours a day, seven days a week to guard against online threats. We also seek out the latest solutions in technology and develop innovative answers to modern challenges.
Government not only manages the complexity of new and existing technology, it also cares for an incredible amount of records. Every life in British Columbia creates records that government uses to operate and serve the public.
Those who work at Citizens’ Services are involved in just about every aspect of the way government manages your information. Our public servants work to ensure your privacy rights are upheld, but we also seek out new ways to share more information with you than ever before.
For example, did you know our government receives between 9,000 and 10,000 Freedom of Information (FOI) requests per year? These requests have become an essential tool for journalists, lawyers, businesses, researchers and many others to do their jobs. The Ministry of Citizens’ Services is working to improve this service in a province that routinely receives more requests than Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba combined.
And from records to real estate, our government also owns or leases many properties around the Province. Our ministry is tasked with managing, protecting and caring of these valuable public assets and making them welcome features in communities across BC.
Keeping with the theme of technology and growing economies in BC, the provincial government plays a significant role as a multi-billion-dollar organization that purchases goods, services and IT solutions. The Ministry of Citizens’ Services is engaging leaders, industry captains, companies and innovators large and small to discover ways to increase competition for government’s IT contracts and welcome more local companies into the bid process.
Some examples of what we are already doing to achieve this aim include breaking up IT projects into different, smaller components so smaller companies have more chances to compete for public contracts and inviting entrepreneurs and IT professionals to find creative solutions to some of our challenges – and helping them market those products to new customers.
As you can see, everything we do at Citizens’ Services is focused on the people of this province. Those who work with me know I like to say we are the ‘face’ of government, but we are also the ‘backbone’ as well.
So come pay us a visit at a BC Service Centre or go to out our website for more detailed information. We’re looking forward to meeting with you.