Ontario government announces tech, standards for planned Digital ID program

Queens Park

The Government of Ontario has revealed the technology and standards that will underpin the province’s Digital Identity (Digital ID) ecosystem.

Ontario plans to launch its Digital ID program later this fall. Through the program, the province aims to make it easier for Ontarians and businesses to access online government services by enabling them to prove who they are more quickly and securely with digital IDs.

Kaleed Rasheed, Ontario’s first associate minister of digital government, announced the move during a Council of Canadian Innovators (CCI) event on September 8. According to Rasheed, “openly sharing our technology approach to digital identity is an essential step in our plan to provide more convenient, private and secure ways to prove who you are.” Ontario claims it is one of the first jurisdictions in North America to publish this information.

Ontario plans to launch its Digital ID program later this fall.

Rasheed added that the announcement “responds directly to what we continue to hear from sector partners, stakeholders and the public – Ontario’s approach to technology needs to be ambitious, innovative and transparent.”

Rasheed said the Ontario government welcomes private sector innovation and collaboration in its Digital ID ecosystem, and plans to continue to work with Ontario organizations, including tech companies, on the program. The province also said it is working collaboratively with the public sector to ensure standard adherence and interoperability across Canada.

Ontario said the Digital ID’s key principles will include compliance with industry standards and laws, such as Ontario’s Digital Service Standard and Anti-Racism Data Standards. Privacy will also be “a core principle,” and the province said it “is being considered in all aspects of the program and technology,” adding that it continues to engage Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner in this respect.

This tech and these standards will guide both Ontario’s Digital ID projects internally, as well as the broader Digital ID ecosystem. According to the province, this information is currently geared towards those looking to create products in the Ontario ecosystem, as it looks to “engage with and prepare the marketplace early in the process.”

RELATED: Ontario reveals digital strategy, plans to launch new data authority

The Digital ID program is a component of the Ontario Government’s broader digital and data strategy, which it announced in April, and outlines 24 initiatives, including plans to launch a new provincial data authority and artificial intelligence framework, following two years of consultations.

“The release of Ontario’s Digital ID later this year will be an exciting step towards transforming and modernizing government services in an increasingly digital world,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Ontario’s minister of finance.

According to the Ontario government, over the past nine months, the province consulted with 68 organizations and over 100 industry experts regarding its approach to its digital identity program, holding five two-hour roundtable discussions on the topic.

At the CCI event, Rasheed also spoke about the province’s recently announced plans to launch a COVID-19 vaccine verification program, which he described as “a two-phase approach.” The first will involve a PDF file and launch on September 22. The second will consist of a QR code and app, which Ontario plans to develop itself and roll out on October 22.

Feature image from Pixabay

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit staff writer who loves to tell Canadian business and tech stories. His coverage is more complete than his moustache.