Every day, millions of Canadians across the country rely on Crown agencies for some of their most basic needs. From healthcare to transportation to leisure, Crown agencies play a vital role in supporting residents in every province and territory, and are a unique part of the corporate landscape in Canada. For this reason, they have a greater responsibility to the public than private corporations, and need to adhere to the highest standards of accountability.
The Unique Role Of Crown Agencies
Crown agencies were first introduced as instruments of government policy designed to meet the needs of sectors that couldn’t, for market reasons, be served by the private businesses. They operate at arm’s-length from the government to guarantee that Canadians’ needs are met.
This means that many Crown agencies play central roles in industries that touch on national security. They often process vast volumes of private information every day, and for this reason, board members responsible for Crown agency governance need to be extremely careful about how they store, share, and handle sensitive information.
Federal, provincial, and municipal governments all have a duty to take great care with the data of citizens and residents, and this has become even more imperative in an era of major data breaches and massive cyber attacks. Crown agencies that want to demonstrate that they are taking protection for their clients’ security need to incorporate the latest safety protocols and electronic tools into their communications strategies at the highest levels.
Board Portal Software An Increasingly Popular Solution
One of the most popular solutions to this particular problem has been board portal software. Board portals create a secure, encrypted electronic space that can only be accessed by authorized board members. Not only do portals make sharing information and documents much easier (it is the work of a few minutes to upload reports, graphics, memos, and other important board-related material), it also allows board members to connect with each other and collaborate on board work remotely.
Many Crown agencies have opted to work with companies like Aprio (a Vancouver-based board portal software provider) that understands the particular challenges Crown agencies face. Aprio’s software is available as a mobile or desktop app that directors can use online and offline anywhere in the world.
This means that board members can instantly respond to issues as they arise without needing to worry about whether or not they are jeopardizing their agency’s data security.
It is perhaps ironic that, despite the fact that so many Canadians rely on Crown agencies, few truly understand what they are. When they operate well, Crown agencies are simply part of the background of civic life. The bus one takes to work, the post office that delivers parcels, and the health services authority that connects citizens to medical specialist are simply reliable institutions of life in Canada. It is only when these institutions fail in their duty to respect confidentiality, public safety, and individual wellbeing that they come in for harsh criticism.
Crown agency boards that embrace the latest secure communication tools can ensure that they retain public trust and continue doing what they do best: underwriting the high standard of living, peaceful public life, and efficient social safety net that has made Canada such an enviable place to live.