The Ontario Public Service (the OPS) is a professional service organization committed to providing high-quality, cost-effective services that keep pace with rising public expectations.

The purpose of this directive is to:

  • Build on past service quality initiatives and further imbed a common service vision, principles and culture to apply to all services provided directly by the government, or by third parties on its behalf, to the people, businesses and organizations of this province.
  • Clearly articulate and reinforce the need for service standards, processes and practices, roles and responsibilities to ensure accessible, quality services to customers.
  • Drive the provision of accessible, quality services, regardless of:
  • the type of customer served (internal or external to the organization);
  • the nature of the service provided (public-facing transactional or informational, social, regulatory-based or internal business support services) or the channel over which the service is delivered (e.g. in- person, telephone, teletype, mail, internet, kiosk);
  • whether it is delivered directly by the OPS or indirectly by others on behalf of the OPS.

Application and scope

This directive applies to all Ontario ministries in respect of their provision of services to both internal and external customers of the Ontario Public Service.

This directive will apply to all Ontario ministries effective January 1, 2010.

Service principles

Researchfootnote 1 has shown that customers of government services expect:

  • Easy access to government services
  • Products and services to be delivered, and questions, requests and concerns to be resolved, in a timely manner
  • Clear, accurate, and reliable information
  • Opportunities to provide feedback on their service experience, and to receive responses where appropriate
  • Protection of their privacy and personal information

The principles below are intended to guide ministries in their efforts to meet or exceed customer needs and expectations. The principles apply equally to internal and external customers, as appropriate.


  • Ministries provide ready access to services.
  • Ministries design and implement services to promote participation for persons with disabilities, considering their needs and expectations of dignity, independence and integration. Services are in compliance with the AODA Accessibility Standards.
  • Services are integrated across ministries and other jurisdictions where appropriate, and managed in a coordinated fashion.


  • Ministries listen to their customers and adapt and improve services to make it easier for them to get what they need, taking into account the needs of a diverse, multicultural population.
  • Ministries deliver services efficiently and in a timely manner, avoiding duplication and minimizing administrative burden.
  • Internal service providers ensure their services support OPS customers, so they in turn can meet the needs and expectations of the public.


  • Ministries set, monitor, communicate and consistently meet program- specific service standards using dependable service delivery processes.
  • Ministries provide clear, accurate and relevant information about their services.


  • Ministries treat all customers equitably and fairly with dignity and courtesy and in accordance with OPS organizational values.


  • Ministries review, evaluate and communicate performance to customers.
  • Ministries protect the personal information provided by customers for the purpose of receiving services.
  • Ministries manage resources as efficiently and effectively as possible to enable a focus on creating value for customers.
  • Where services are delivered indirectly by agencies or other third parties, Ministries promote achievement of the service principles through their agreements with those parties as they are established or renewed.

Mandatory requirements

All ministries must:

  • adopt and meet the OPS Common Service Standards
  • establish and communicate, to customers, program-specific service standards for services offered
  • obtain Treasury Board/Management Board of Cabinet approval if proposing to adopt a Service Guarantee
  • monitor and measure the quality of service provided
  • communicate, to customers, the actual quality of service provided
  • identify and implement service improvements
  • adhere to all relevant legislative requirements, including:
  • the Ontario Human Rights Code
  • the information access and privacy provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Personal Health Information Protection Act.
  • the French Language Services Act
  • the accessibility requirements of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 ( including Ontario Regulation 429/07 on Accessibility Standards for Customer Service.)


Treasury Board/Management Board of Cabinet is responsible for:

  • Approving amendments or exemptions to this directive.

Secretary of Management Board of Cabinet is responsible for:

  • Periodically reviewing and recommending revisions to this directive.
  • Approving policies and guidelines developed in support of this directive.

Deputy Ministers are responsible for:

  • Ensuring that this directive is adhered to by their ministry.

Program Managers are responsible for:

  • Establishing and communicating program-specific service standards for the services they provide; monitoring and measuring the service provided; making service improvements to address service gaps; supporting, engaging and recognizing staff in achieving service excellence.

Employees are responsible for:

  • Understanding and applying the service standards, principles and practices in their day-to-day work for internal and external service delivery to meet or exceed customers’ expectations.


footnote 2
The direct user or recipient (sometimes involuntary recipient) of a service. See internal customer and external customer. For the purposes of this directive, client will be considered synonymous with customer and encompasses people, businesses and organizations.
External Customer:
A person, business or organization that receives a service but is not part of the organization supplying it.
Internal Customer:
A person, or a part of an organization, that receives a service and is part of the organization supplying it.
Customer expectations:
The assumptions that each customer has about the kind of service that will be provided during a transaction. The expectations are usually related to timeliness, reliability, accessibility, responsiveness and product quality.
The degree of excellence customers perceive, based upon their needs and expectations.
Service Standard:
A commitment by the organization to provide a specific/stated level of service to customers/clients. It is usually established in areas such as communications, access, timeliness and interactions between staff and customers/clients. Service standards include the following essential elements:
  • Description of the service provided including any associated fees
  • Service quality pledges or principles that describe the quality of service delivery clients can expect to receive.
  • Performance objectives for key service aspects such as timeliness, access, and accuracy of delivery.
  • Clear complaint and redress mechanisms for clients when they feel standards have not been met.
Service Guaranteefootnote 3
Formal assurance that standards will be met, with a provision for accounting to the customer if they are not.