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auditor in terms of findings and recommendations. There is every reason to believe,
however, that going forward, if Ontario is to better progress in prioritizing elec-
tronic service delivery to the citizenry as a whole (as well as to businesses both large
and small), mobile channels must play an important role in doing so.
The third initiative to consider in terms of Ontario's efforts and prospects in the
realm of mobility and digital inclusion examined inclusiveness through a social and
human lens rather than through a technological one. From 2011 to 2012, an external
review process of the entire social assistance apparatus of the Provincial Government
(including municipal governments that are constitutionally subservient to the prov-
inces and often intertwined with many aspects of social assistance and human devel-
opment) was undertaken by a formal Review Commission with the aim of generating
comprehensive and holistic reforms for a set of policies and supports widely regarded
as well-intended but disjointed, dated, inefficient—and thus ineffective.
Interestingly, although perhaps not surprisingly, the findings from this exer-
cise are remarkably consistent with many service reform strategies associated with
e-government reforms in recent years: notably an emphasis on citizen-centric out-
comes and a shift away from process toward integrative mindsets and delivery
mechanisms. The difference with respect to the social assistance reform is the spe-
cific addressing of those constituencies in need of special assistance and supports,
especially those facing various degrees of socioeconomic exclusion due to unem-
ployment, underemployment, and cognitive and physical disabilities.
Moreover, the central point is that despite the analogous visions, the near total
absence of a digital or mobile dimension to the social assistance review exercise
suggests, to put it mildly, a missed opportunity. Such a missed opportunity has not
gone entirely unnoticed. In a brief yet insightful commentary on the Ontario social
assistance review, Toby Fyfe, editor of Canadian Government Executive, asks:
Could the government turn Ontario's benefits system into a fully inte-
grated model with a single point of access for benefits and a coordi-
nated interface for clients? This would make programs more effective,
reduce costs in the long run and improve service. Mobile, social media,
the cloud and big data/analytics technologies could be part of an inte-
grated, enterprise model for a common platform that would manage
programs across all key departments and stakeholders. (Fyfe, 2013)
It is undoubtedly easier to pose such a question than to devise detailed strate-
gies to foster the sort of integrative, forward-looking model that Fyfe espouses.
However, it does bear noting that many other jurisdictions are seemingly moving
in this type of direction, explicitly aiming to orchestrate some alignment between
the realms of e-government and online service delivery on the one hand and social
assistance and the welfare state on the other hand. At a minimum, we can conclude
that the recent initiative aimed at social assistance review has failed to make any
such link, which constitutes an important handicap going forward in addressing
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