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Canadian Government Recognized for Information Security Achievements

Most recent Government Online Annual Report highlights measurable security achievements made possible by Secure Channel initiative

The Canadian government's Secure Channel initiative played an important role in the country's recent recognition as the number one, global electronic government by Accenture for five consecutive years. Secure Channel is a vital component of the country's Government On-line (GOL) initiative, contributing to the finding by another survey that 64 percent of Canadians felt comfortable submitting personal income tax information online.

By providing a common infrastructure to enable service integration, Secure Channel has proven to be crucial to citizen adoption and service growth of the GOL Initiative, and was part of what lead Accenture to rank the government of Canada the number-one global e-government for five years consecutively.

The Secure Channel Project is a multi-departmental, public and private sector effort to build a common security infrastructure for government electronic business and service delivery. It is designed and operated on behalf of Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) by Team BCE, a consortium of eight industry leaders that is led by Bell Canada and includes Entrust. The Secure Channel is built upon Entrust security solutions and PKI infrastructure and provides the foundation to maintain and promote user confidence in the privacy and security of their personal information when conducting e-government transactions. This capability is provided via transparent, strong security that helps enable government-to-government, citizen-to-government, and business-to-government transactions and electronic service delivery.

The continued success of the Secure Channel is evident in the increasing number of Government of Canada programs being connected and taking advantage of its services. All federal departments, agencies and other client organizations are now connected to the Secure Channel Network, and 25 programs are using the Secure Channel's authentication services (e-pass). In total, more than 772,000 e-passes have been issued to Canadian citizens and businesses.

One of the first major programs to use the Secure Channel was Service Canada's Record of Employment Web program (ROE Web) which supports claims processing for the Employment Insurance program. Use of ROE Web continues to grow on a weekly basis -- to date, more than 885,000 ROEs have been completed on-line, and more than 14,000 employers are using the service. ROE Web received the GTEC Distinction Award's Gold Medal for Innovative Service Delivery to Citizens and Businesses for its successful implementation.

Among its many successes, the Secure Channel provided an encrypted login capability to Statistics Canada which enabled their on-line trial of Census 2006, with over 14,000 forms filled out on-line. The same technology will be used in the 2006 Census, giving 13.5 million households and 300,000 farms the option of completing their census on-line.

Canada Revenue Agency's "My Account" Service also uses the Secure Channel, allowing Canadians to securely view their personal tax information, Child Tax Benefit and GST/HST credit information. They can also transact securely through My Account to change their return, change their address, and register a formal dispute.

The potential for Secure Channel use is tremendous. Canadians are among the world's most enthusiastic users of the Internet -- including for government information and services. According to a 2004-2005 EKOS survey:
  • 64% of Internet users are comfortable submitting personal taxpayer information over the Internet to the Canada Revenue Agency.
  • 71% of Internet users have used a Government of Canada Web site in the past 12 months; 31% of Canadians say their most recent contact with the Government of Canada was via the Internet.
  • 77% of Canadians having recent contact with the federal government said that accessing the Internet service was easy, compared to 67% across all services.
  • 46% of all Canadians would be most likely to visit a government Web site to find information about a government program or service, making it the preferred method overall.
"Secure Channel is a fundamental cornerstone upon which valuable Canadian e-government services have been, and continue to be built," said Kevin Simzer, Senior Vice President at Entrust. "Entrust is proud of its role in assisting the Government of Canada in creating a government-wide on-line system of trust by providing Canadian citizens and government departments and agencies with strong and transparent security."

Also announced recently, Passport Canada officially launched its Passport Online (POL) initiative that provides access to Canadian passport services through the assistance of an on-line Web application. The information submitted using POL is stored on a secure server and retrieved when the application is received, allowing for quicker service. Using one of the most secure forms of encryption available via the Entrust TruePass system, Passport Canada protects personal data contained in the on-line application form.