Remote Deliberation Solution in Canada: Embracing the Digital Future

About House of Commons of Canada

Strategic Partners

Written on September, 2020

  1. Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic forced institutions worldwide to adapt and change in order to continue functioning. One such example is the House of Commons of Canada, which had to quickly develop and implement remote deliberation solutions to enable parliamentary processes to continue. This essay will discuss the strategies and challenges faced by the House of Commons in ensuring business continuity, the integration of technology, and the cultural shifts that have occurred as a result.

  1. Strategies for Business Continuity
  1. Anywhere, Anytime Computing

The House of Commons adopted a forward-thinking approach by implementing an “Anywhere, Anytime” computing strategy several years before the pandemic. This allowed members to work remotely using devices provided by the institution, such as laptops and mobile devices. As a result, when the pandemic struck, the House of Commons was better equipped to handle the transition to remote work, ensuring that parliamentary business could continue despite the challenging circumstances.

  1. Business Continuity Planning

While the House of Commons had a business continuity plan in place for various types of failures, it had not anticipated a pandemic. The institution had prepared for scenarios such as losing access to a building but did not have a plan for when all employees, including members and parliamentary staff, would be required to work remotely. Although the existing plan provided some guidance, it was necessary to adapt and innovate in response to the unique challenges posed by the pandemic.


III. Integrating Technology and Addressing Challenges

  1. PRISM: The Parliamentary Platform

The House of Commons had already implemented a platform called PRISM, which was designed for transcription, record-keeping, and electronic voting. Any new remote voting solution needed to integrate seamlessly with this existing system. This constraint presented a challenge, as it required the development of customized solutions rather than the adoption of off-the-shelf products.

  1. Ensuring Connectivity and Support

The geographic size of Canada and the diverse locations of its members posed a significant challenge to ensuring that everyone had adequate connectivity and support. The House of Commons formed a crisis management team with multiple subteams to address these issues. The team focused on locating members, assessing their connectivity, and providing devices and support when needed. Special attention was given to rural areas with limited connectivity, necessitating agreements with satellite-based service providers.

  1. IT Security and Cybersecurity

With the increased reliance on remote working, IT security became a paramount concern. The House of Commons worked closely with national security partners and other parliaments worldwide to enhance monitoring and assess the impact of remote work on cybersecurity. The institution introduced 24/7 monitoring and expedited the transition to cloud-based services such as Office 365 to better protect Members of Parliament.

  1. Navigating Cultural Shifts and Future Implications
  1. Adapting to Remote Work

The shift to remote work brought about numerous challenges, including ensuring that members knew how to use the necessary tools and platforms, managing the risk of video propaganda, and addressing the issue of e-voting. Although the House of Commons administration was prepared to implement e-voting, they had not received an official request to do so as of September 2020.

  1. Rethinking the Future of Work

The experience of remote work during the pandemic has prompted discussions about the future of workspaces and the potential for long-term remote work. There is now debate over whether some employees should continue working remotely and whether the same amount of physical space will be needed in the future.

  1. Conclusion

The House of Commons of Canada’s experience during the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the importance of proactively adopting new technologies and strategies to ensure business continuity. While the institution faced numerous challenges in adapting to remote work, its ability to innovate and integrate technology has been crucial in allowing parliamentary business to proceed during these unprecedented times. As the world moves forward, the lessons learned from this experience can serve as a valuable model for other organizations and governments seeking to adapt to an increasingly digital and connected world.


The successful transition to remote work and the integration of digital platforms have shown the resilience of the House of Commons of Canada in the face of adversity. As institutions worldwide continue to navigate the challenges of the pandemic and beyond, embracing digital solutions and fostering a culture of adaptability will be crucial for maintaining business continuity and ensuring the long-term success of these organizations. The House of Commons’ experience highlights the importance of being prepared for the unexpected and the need for constant innovation and adaptation in an ever-changing world.


Moreover, the cultural shifts and discussions surrounding the future of workspaces and remote work have the potential to transform the way organizations operate. This transformation could lead to increased efficiency, reduced costs, and improved work-life balance for employees. As a result, organizations must be willing to reassess traditional ways of working and consider new models that better align with the evolving needs of their workforce.


In summary, the House of Commons of Canada has demonstrated the value of proactive planning, technological integration, and adaptability in ensuring business continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The lessons learned from this experience can provide valuable insights for other organizations and governments as they navigate an uncertain future. By embracing digital solutions, fostering a culture of innovation, and remaining open to new ways of working, institutions can successfully adapt to the challenges of a rapidly changing world and continue to thrive.

Support this library and donate

Supporting and donating to this library is more than a contribution; it is a vote for the importance of freely accessible knowledge and a pledge to our shared intellectual growth. Each donation aids in the curation, preservation, and expansion of our resources, ensuring the continued availability of relevant and timely content. It helps us sustain the quality and breadth of our offerings, enabling us to serve our diverse community better. Your contribution signifies your commitment to fostering a vibrant, informed, and connected community, underpinned by the principle of equitable access to knowledge.