Ottawa's tech sector will be 'key' to helping forge feds' future workplace strategy, Treasury Board boss says

Remote work stock image

Speaking from her office to a virtual audience at the Mayor’s Breakfast on Friday, Treasury Board president Mona Fortier discussed the future of the workplace for public servants in Ottawa and the local partnerships that will make that future possible.

Ottawa is home to about 135,000 government employees, many of whom are currently working from home, leaving the downtown eerily empty. Though many public servants may return to their offices as pandemic restrictions ease, Fortier said digital services will remain key to delivering government services in the future.

“These efforts are built on a strong policy framework and a set of digital principles that prioritizes accessibility, sound stewardship of information data, cybersecurity, privacy and, above all, the needs of citizens and businesses,” Fortier said in her remarks.

Fortier invited tech businesses to work with the federal government to help digitize services.

“I think that the private sector in Ottawa and the talent pool that we have will be a key priority for us … to be able to make sure we deliver on this mandate,” said Fortier, who is also the MP for Ottawa-Vanier. 

Public-private partnerships

Michael Tremblay, CEO and president of Invest Ottawa, said there is plenty of opportunity for assisting government technology and pointed to a variety of public-private partnerships in the works at Invest Ottawa.

"The more money that flows to SMEs, the better off our economy will be," Tremblay said, adding that a typical government contract is worth $370,000 and produces 10 jobs, $1 million in GDP and $300,000 in tax revenue. 

"As a capital city steeped with researchers and the highest concentration of tech talent in North America, we are in a unique position to play a very strong role in gov-tech," Tremblay said.

As for when and how public servants could return to the workplace, Fortier confirmed that strategies will be formulated at the department level.

"The public service is not only large, it’s also incredibly talented and diverse," said Fortier. "That’s why there is no one-size-fits-all approach to how departments and agencies will design their working models for the future."