Improving content on Canada.ca

Small changes make a big difference.

Sometimes the words we use, and how we organize them, can make it hard for people to find and understand Government of Canada information and services on Canada.ca. The TBS Digital Transformation Office is working on projects with federal departments to make it easier.

For each project, we co-create prototypes, set concrete usability targets, and run usability tests with Canadians. We ask questions Canadians have about specific Government of Canada services. For a prototype to launch, it must make it at least 20% easier for people to get the right answer.

Considering the high numbers of visits to in-demand pages, such an increase in task success rates is significant. Ultimately it means people spend less time looking for the answers they need from the Government of Canada.

Projects with our partners

    • 2017

      Business start-up activities

      Partner departments

      Canada Revenue Agency; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

      Objective

      Combine information from across departments so that Canadians easily get the whole picture on what the Government of Canada requires when starting a business.

      Why this work matters

      • Approximately 40,000 new small and medium enterprises start up each year

      Task success before Task success after Improvement to task success
      52% 88%

      +36%pts

      Task scenarios tested and improved

      • Imagine you are going to start a home business in Winnipeg, part-time as a consultant. Find out what you can find out about any essential legal steps in that process.
      • You want to name your new business ‘SOMOS’. Check if it is legal or illegal for you to start using that name.
      • You expect to earn about $1,000 a month from your new business for the first six months. Find out whether you must charge GST to your customers.
      • Your first employee starts work next month. Find out if there is an official step you must take before or very soon after you cut their first paycheque.
      • Your business needs to start collecting GST. Find the official first step you must take.
      • You have decided to incorporate your business. Is it possible to submit the application form online, and if so, how much it will cost?

      Business start-up activities: Learn how we did it.

      Travel documents

      Partner department

      Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

      Objective

      To help those potential visitors to Canada to clearly understand what documentation is required to enter.

      Why this work matters

      • IRCC processes about 1,000,000 Visa applications a year
      • IRCC expects 3,200,000 Electronic Travel Authorization applications this year

      Task success before Task success after Improvement to task success
      45% 92%

      +47%pts

      Task scenarios tested and improved

      • Find out what I need to come to Canada as a tourist from my country.
      • Find out what I need to come to Canada as a Canadian permanent resident.
      • Find out what I need to come to Canada as a former Canadian permanent resident.
      • Find out what I need to come to Canada as a Canadian dual citizen.
      • Find out what I need to come to Canada from the USA with an American passport.
      • Find out what I need to transit through a Canadian airport coming from China?

      Travel documents: Learn how we did it.

      Weather information

      Partner department

      Environment and Climate Change Canada

      Objective

      Make it easier for Canadians to understand notifications about dangerous weather conditions.

      Why this work matters

      • Canadians check the weather with the Government of Canada more than they do anything else
      • More than 550,000,000 visits to weather.gc.ca annually

      Task success before Task success after Improvement to task success
      33% 72%

      +39%pts

      Task scenarios tested and improved

      • What will the weather be like in your area for the rest of the day?
      • You heard there is rain coming but you want to cycle to/home from work. Find out when the probability of rain is the highest so you can avoid those times.
      • It's Sunday morning, and you need to drive to Kingston for a Monday noon meeting. Should you leave this evening, or tomorrow morning?
      • Hail would rip holes in your expensive tent. Should you rush to pack up your camp site this morning or take your time this evening?
      • You want to take the the dog for a short walk before it rains. It is already raining anywhere in the Ottawa area yet (yes/no)?
      • You are coaching children's soccer tonight. You have to cancel if the humidex is above 40 degrees. Should you cancel the game or not?
      • You are the golf course manager: the sky looks dark. Find out (yes/no) whether you should clear the course because of the potential of lightning in the next 10-20 minutes.

      Learn how we did it.

    • 2018

      Disease and immunization information

      Partner departments

      Health Canada; Global Affairs Canada

      Objective

      Make it easier for Canadians to interpret immunization guidelines.

      Why this work matters

      • Flu cases result in nearly 12,000 hospitalizations in Canada each year

      Task success before Task success after Improvement to task success
      53% 84%

      +31%pts

      Task scenarios tested and improved

      • This year's flu season could be worse than usual. Find the government’s advice on the most important way to avoid getting the flu.
      • Your friend put up a post urging her friends not to vaccinate their kids because of the risk of autism. Find some answers that would make you feel ready to discuss it with her.
      • You got a few mosquito bites on your honeymoon down south but you feel fine. Before getting pregnant, you want to make sure you don’t have Zika. Is there a test that can tell if you're infected?
      • You plan to start a family soon, but want a sunny vacation first. Which of the countries below should you avoid because of the risk of Zika?
      • Your baby was born on the first of this month. At what age is the first set of vaccinations recommended?
      • It is flu season and a family member is pregnant. Find out whether or not she should get a flu shot while pregnant.
      • You don't want to miss work tomorrow but should stay away if you have the flu. Yesterday, all of the symptoms below hit: find out which ones are the signal that it's the flu.
      • You think you heard something on the news about people being sick in Italy. Is there a particular concern you should be aware of before you go with your baby?
      • You are planning a trip to Mexico. Which specific vaccinations are recommended before you go?
      • The weekly flu report says most cases are an H3N2 flu. Find out if that particular flu is in this year's vaccine in Canada to help persuade your partner to get a flu shot.

      Diseases and immunization: Learn how we did it.

      GST/HST and payroll

      Partner department

      Canada Revenue Agency

      Objective

      Make it easier for businesses to fulfill their GST/HST and payroll requirements.

      Why this work matters

      • There are 5,400,000 active GST/HST accounts in Canada and 1,700,000 active Payroll accounts in Canada

      Task success before Task success after Improvement to task success
      48% 76%

      +28%pts

      Task scenarios tested and improved

      • Can you pay your company's payroll CPP and EI deductions to CRA using Interac?
      • You issued an invoice, with GST included, on the last day of the quarter. Can you wait until the invoice is paid before sending in your payment?
      • You accidentally made an error when you submitted your last payroll return. You under-paid your source deductions to CRA by $350. Will you get fined?
      • If your Ontario company sells and ships a taxable product to a customer in Alberta, do you charge them GST or HST?
      • You mailed a cheque to pay your company’s payroll deductions. How would you confirm that the CRA received it?
      • You registered for GST for the first time on August 31, and will file your return annually. Your fiscal year ended October 31. Your net tax for September and October was $2,500. Will you need to pay your GST in instalments for the next fiscal year?
      • A business collects taxes from its employees’ pay. It sends the taxes it has collected to the government 4 times a year. When must it send the next payment by?
      • In 2018, what will be the maximum amount of CPP contributions you can deduct from an employee's pay?
      • You have recently registered for a GST account and have been collecting GST/HST. How would you find out when you have to pay it?
      • Your business operates seasonally, so you don't pay employees during the winter. Do you need to let CRA know this?

      Learn how we did it.

      EI special benefits

      Partner department

      Employment and Social Development Canada

      Objective

      Make it easier for Canadians to understand eligibility for caregiver benefits.

      Why this work matters

      • Thousands of Canadians receive the family caregiver and compassionate care benefits each year

      Task success before Task success after Improvement to task success
      52% 79%

      +27%pts

      Task scenarios tested and improved

      • Darren has been working full-time and making EI contributions for 5 months. Is that enough for him to qualify for government support to take time off work to look after his sick 8-year-old son?
      • What information would Chen need from his employer to support an application to take time off from work to look after his sick wife?
      • Tara has applied for government support to take time off work to look after her sick 12-year-old daughter. When will she receive her first payment?
      • Could you show me how you would apply for government help to take time off work to look after a sick parent?
      • Omar is receiving government support to take time off work and look after an aunt who is ill. The relative's illness has suddenly become much worse, and she may not survive it. Omar has heard there is separate support to care for someone who may be near death. When can he apply for this?
      • John's 6-year-old daughter is ill. How does John show that she is sick enough for him to qualify for government support to look after her?
      • Irina’s father has fallen seriously ill. Her best friend Jane will take time off work to look after him. As Jane is not a member of the family, what will Irina need to do to support Jane's application?

      Learn how we did it.

      Recalls and safety alerts

      Partner departments

      Health Canada, Canadian Food and Safety Inspection Agency, Transport Canada, and Environment Canada

      Objective

      Make it easier for Canadians to find and understand both recalls and safety alerts for food, health products, vehicles and car seats.

      Why this work matters

      • There are thousands of recalls and safety alerts every year. When Canadians can find and understand this information, they are safer.

      Task success before Task success after Improvement to task success
      52% 86%

      +34%pts

      Task scenarios tested and improved

      • Your son is allergic to eggs. He had a reaction tonight. Find out if each of these foods might have caused his allergic reaction.
      • You saw something on Facebook about roast beef recalls. When you check in your fridge, you see you have a sandwich with this tag on it. Are you risking illness if you eat it, or not?
      • While on Facebook, you clicked on this recall. Looking at your bottle, you see it is not the same. Yours is called Original Mixture, with serial number 6F99322. Has it been recalled too?
      • A friend gave you a 2014 Britax B-SAFE 35 baby car seat. Is there anything you or your friend should do before you use it?
      • Your EpiPen is going to expire soon. You heard there are production problems. Find out what you should do if you have an allergic reaction before you get a new one.
      • You are looking at buying a 2003 Honda Pilot SUV. Find out if there are any recalls for it before you buy it. (Then) Rate your confidence that you found all of the recalls for this vehicle.
      • You bought Stella Artois beer. You heard that there is a problem with this brand. Your bottles have this label. Are they affected?
      • There are recalls right now for children's toys that people might have bought. Find and provide the name of the recalled toy that is of the most concern to you.
      • You want to buy lettuce. You remember seeing something about lettuce that made people ill. Which type(s) of lettuce should you avoid buying today?
      • Your daughter is allergic to peanuts. She had a reaction this afternoon at home. She ate only these two foods. Check if either was the cause. [(Neither are listed) When they've reached a conclusion: What would you do?]
      • You are looking at this high chair on eBay. Check if there are any problems with this model.

      Learn how we did it.

      Business account maintenance (in progress)

      Find a job (in progress)

      Prepare for the citizenship test (in progress)

    • 2019