Ontario Needs to Embrace Government 2.0 Methodology



November 28, 2008

I just had a meeting with my representative from the CFIB, I am certain that without receiving information from them I would never have known about the requirement that the Ontario Ministry of Labour places on employers.  Apparently, the Ministry has an additional 200 staff to enforce the requirement that all work places display the latest Employment Standards Poster.  Now, the fines that they are issuing for not posting the latest version of the poster are not insignificant, so this certainly feels like a cash grab by the government. I think that the assumption is that if you are a business owner that you must have nothing better to do than surfing the Ontario Ministry of Labour website on a weekly basis.

Now how would a Web 2.0 framework make this any better?  Well, the big picture would be an open dialogue between small businesses and the Government of Ontario. If there was an open space where people both be informed, but also provide feedback about provincial legislation affecting businesses would be very useful.  Simply having an online forum to ask questions, propose ideas and work towards solutions that can benefit everyone. 

It is critical however that government departments open up new ways to communicate their messages to the population.  In this case, it is just absurd that the Ministry doesn't allow you to subscribe to a newsletter that provides users with updates on issues that affect them.  I should be able to state that I want to newsletters sent to me about any changes in legislation which may affect me.  It would also be beneficial to be able to sign up to an RSS feed of new publications, particularly if there is a risk of me being fined for not displaying the right version of a publication. 

Having a Client Relationship Management database available through the website that is integrated with the Ministry's own database of businesses would make it possible to track down if there are any outstanding issues associated with your company's file. 

Simply having a contact us form linked to from the FAQ could be useful if your question isn't already answered by their list. 

Would also be important to ensure that the site is as accessible as possible, and invalid HTML 4.01 Transitional markup just isn't good enough.  Employers may have visual impairments and this department must do a better job of complying with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

About The Author

Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.