Canada begins testing national digital ID framework

Pan-Canadian Trust Framework (PCTF) identity graphic
ENABLER: The Pan-Canadian Trust Framework (PCTF) lays out the standards and guidelines for digital ID functions

The Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) has begun alpha testing a framework of industry standards for digital ID authentication in order to create a trusted digital environment before the rollout of a digital ID infrastructure in the country — and the launch of a national trustmark for service and solution providers.

Twenty public and private organisations are taking part in the testing programme for the DIACC’s Pan-Canadian Trust Framework (PCTF), which “will make it easier for Canadian citizens and businesses to interact with governments, businesses and other organisations with a high degree of confidence”.

“From open banking to e-health, digital ID is a key enabler in unlocking the next frontier of our digital economy,” the DIACC explains. It adds that “we know digital identity has the potential to add at least three per cent of GDP, which is potentially almost $100bn back into our Canadian economy”.

Developed as “a common baseline of conformance criteria and trusted processes”, the PCTF lays out standards, requirements and guidelines for digital identity-related functions and processes, such as the creation, management and use of digital IDs, credentials and authenticators in sectors from financial services and commerce to government, education and healthcare.

“The goal of the PCTF is to enable and support the establishment of an innovative, secure and privacy enhancing Canadian Digital Identity Ecosystem — which also respects fundamental human rights in the digital era — for all sectors of the economy,” the DIACC says. 

“The PCTF establishes a trust framework within which innovative solutions can be developed, measured and recognised.

“It defines conformance criteria necessary for Digital Identity Ecosystem participants and users to interact with assurance.”

Once alpha testing is completed and the PCTF is fully implemented as planned in 2021, the DIACC will launch the Voila Verified Trust Assurance Program, which “will issue a PCTF Voila Verified Trustmark to organisations that demonstrate compliance with PCTF components.

“Voila Verified will enable solutions and service providers to leverage the trustmark to elevate their market leadership and allow them to collaborate securely with assurance, providing their customers with the digital-first experience that they demand.” 

“The PCTF launch marks an important milestone in Canada’s digital transformation initiatives,” says Dave Nikolejsin, chair of the DIACC board. 

“Canadians have had to deal with identity theft and fraud, high anxiety in accessing services that they were in dire need of while facing social distancing measures, and attempting to go about their lives as normally as possible. Digital identity minimises all those pain points and elevates the livelihoods of Canadians.”

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