We live in an increasingly digital society, where Canadians and Nova Scotians have increased demands on their time and seemingly unlimited access to information and service through mobile devices, computers and more.
Consider, for example, that Statistics Canada’s 2013 Digital Technology and Internet Use Survey
reports that almost two-thirds of Canadians use internet-enabled mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, and 42% of small businesses and 83% of medium-sized businesses in Canada
have an online presence. Likewise, online banking and e-commerce are top internet activities for Canadians and Nova Scotians. And, in Nova Scotia, 80% of Nova Scotians have internet access in the home.
It is no wonder that Nova Scotia employers and workers have told us that we need to evolve how we provide service to meet their increasingly complex needs.
Modernization is a key strategic goal in our new 2016-2020 Strategic Plan. Stakeholders have told us, very clearly, that we need to improve our systems. Our base systems are more than two decades old, and are at risk of not performing the way we need them to into the future.
From our stakeholders
Investments in operational improvements like direct deposit, the phone system and online portals are in response to comments like these heard during stakeholder consultation on the WCB Strategic Plan 2016-2020:
“On the technology side, there is a bit of a gap. Need a more interactive…portal for case workers, employers, doc[tor]s and service providers.”
“Need to find better ways to provide interaction between WCB and the stakeholders in the system (employers, injured workers, health care providers, etc.).”
“More timely information will lead to better outcomes - take away the administrative burden. The WCB needs better external connectivity.”
We’ve already started introducing new service enhancements.
Starting in December, we’ll look and sound a little different to those we serve. We are making it easier for workers to receive their benefit payments. Direct deposit will soon be available as a secure method of payment for more types of benefits, including monthly long-term benefits such as pensions, temporary benefits, and payments for medical and travel expenses covered by the WCB. This means that workers will receive their eligible benefits quickly, securely, and with fewer delays.
We have also made improvements to our current phone system. After December 5, when employers, workers and service providers call WCB Nova Scotia, they will be able to access some basic claim and account information, and make changes to their account, using secure, self-serve options at any time. During our regular business hours, callers can speak to a person at any time by pressing zero.
These are the latest examples of service enhancements. Earlier this year we began offering online registration for employers
applying for workplace insurance coverage. And, as discussed during our 2016 Employer Rates’ Announcement in September
, we have significant plans for next year to continue to improve service.
In 2016, we will add online portals and other online capabilities for workers, employers and service providers, building on the basic employer account access that exists today. The total cost of this 2016 investment is budgeted at $11 million. In the future, we will explore improvements to the core claims and employer assessment systems, which will be a more significant investment.
This is a significant investment, and every improvement is carefully considered and prioritized to focus on areas with the greatest impact on our long-term goals.