Many unprecedented firsts are happening in 2020. A switch to work-at-home for a huge percentage of the population has put pressure on Internet, Video Conferencing, many systems. But one I am particularly intrigued with is Government response. Normally the timeline from problem recognition through legislation through implementation is multiple years. Here in Canada we have seen the rapid launch of CERB and CEWS (as well as many other programs). It seems easy: the prime minister walks out of Rideau cottage, says some soothing words, and it just works, right?

Well, thanks to the awesome work of the people behind the scenes, I can attest it did. This am I had to apply for CEWS. I’m not happy I had to, I’m happy I was able to. I was expecting the worst of IT to come through, web site crashes, hard to use, byzantine. Particularly since it was on the CRA website. After all, national revenue agencies are known for mainframes and Cobol, not Reactive and Web.

I am 100% impressed. Fast, responsive, modern, secure. As a technologist and developer I can well understand the sweat that went in, under pressure, remote, fast timeline, a lot on the line. And, you did it. The Government of Canada went from concept (“if we can keep people connected to their jobs the recovery will be simpler, its better than them all laid off and on EI”) to plan (“If your revenue has dropped by this amount and …”) to implementation (“Go to CRA, login with your My Business Account, click, go”). And that last step, you nailed it.

The end-user experience was rock solid and fast. The prep web site went live last week with the rules and spreadsheet. The live experience was fast, simple, confidence inspiring.

Am I happy to be in this situation? No. Am I happy with all the debt we all have to draw down in the future? No. Am I happy that such a great response was delivered so quickly, so simply, so well? Immensely.

From watching this announced on CBC (on YouTube!) by the Prime Minister, to seeing it tweaked by our Minister of Small Business (Mary Ng), to seeing a multi-party discussion and agreement in a complex House, to seeing the program roll out. Less than a month, and glitch free.

Now its time to take this assistance we have generously offered each other and bear down on the real problems of containing the current problem, and, planning for how we’ll come out the other side better.

Hat’s off to the IT and Developers of the Government of Canada and CRA. I thought I would never say these words together, you rock.

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