Canada’s Digital Identity Ecosystem


In today’s digital-centered world, Canadians have expectations regarding convenience, data privacy and security. How do businesses and governments deliver on those expectations?

It is imperative to have a vehicle for enabling and growing Canada’s digital economy, one that is open and client-focused, and facilitates more integrated and client-centric services. One that is an interoperable network, in which digital identity information can be asked for and subsequently verified across all industries and all levels of government in the country.

DIACC’s latest publication, Canada’s Digital Identity Ecosystem, stresses the value in building such a system. By unlocking digital identity capabilities from both the public and private sectors, this ecosystem benefits people, businesses and governments across the country. For instance,

  • Businesses can leverage the ecosystem to mitigate risks for fraud and accelerate the adoption of electronic business processes.
  • The ecosystem can help governments to enable real-time service delivery, and reduce fraud risk for services that are considered high-risk.
  • For consumers, it will provide a more convenient user experience, as access should reduce the number of username-password credentials, using a “tell us once” approach to data collection.

“All participants – from individuals to organizations across various industries – are authorized as trusted stewards for Canadian identity information,” said DIACC President Joni Brennan. “By adhering to a common framework, stakeholders share only the essential identity information, and nothing more.

Ken McMillan, Acting Director, Digital Identity at Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, noted that each province and territory has a different schema, and one definition hasn’t yet been agreed upon.

“The ecosystem approach says that you need a common set of definitions, and we don’t apply definitions uniformly across the country.” he said. “It forces us to have the conversation about a common definition of terms.”

“Most importantly, this ecosystem provides Canadians with choice and control,” Allan Foster, VP Global Partner Success at ForgeRock and member of DIACC’s Board Of Directors, pointed out. “Users are able to offer their consent on what information is shared and are notified of access to their personal information, such as a police background check,” he said.

Other countries have made their own cases for establishing such ecosystems. DIACC posits that having a Digital Identity Ecosystem built in Canada, for Canadians, will set our country up for success in the modern global digital economy.