The AGCO’s corporate communications function provides a range of services and products that help the agency deliver on its strategic objectives in a way that cultivates relationships of trust, understanding and support with its internal and external stakeholders. These stakeholders, who are truly our customers, include the licensees and registrants of the regulated sectors, municipal and provincial governments, the public at large and AGCO employees themselves.
The AGCO has committed to enhancing customer experience as one of its main priorities, as reflected by its Service Excellence strategic objective. The agency’s goal is to develop and embed a strong service culture where customer needs are the focus of AGCO policy developments, as well as the design and delivery of services.
Further, the AGCO’s digital first mindset extends to its communications program. Communications that leverage digital channels and take advantage of the benefits of rich media to engage and inform customers support the agency’s overall modern regulatory approach. All sectors can now transact business with the AGCO online and, wherever possible, channels are developed to be “two-way” to allow for meaningful exchanges between the AGCO and its audiences. The AGCO is also committed to making content easily accessible and available in English and French.
Ongoing communication activities include issues management, media relations, digital communications channel content development, as well as the planning and support for agency initiatives and stakeholder engagement activities. These services help the AGCO provide stakeholders with the information that matters to them, at the right time and in the right place, while acting in the public interest.
The agency continuously monitors its communications strategies and products for usability, engagement and in response to changing government priorities.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the AGCO quickly refocused its communication efforts to support the government’s response and used its established channels to inform the public, licensees and registrants about the changes, restrictions and public health measures put in place.
The AGCO has fine-tuned its communication approaches and developed rapid response strategies that allow the agency to quickly support government emergency announcements and distribute important information in a timely and efficient manner.
Roll-out and Products
Rapid response to emerging issues
Working collaboratively with policy, legal operations, customer service and other branches of the organization, the corporate communications team has established processes to reduce the normal turnaround time to create, design, translate, publish, and distribute information in a matter of hours. This can include:
Drafting news releases, information bulletins, and direct emails to licensees and registrants, as well as fact sheets for AGCO Customer Service and Inspectors
French translation for all materials
Internal notification to affected AGCO staff
Direct email distribution capacity to licensees and registrants
Posting information bulletins and blogs on the AGCO website and social media channels
Distributing news releases via newswire
The AGCO website, www.agco.ca, remains a primary information and communication channel for the agency and its stakeholders. This site is also the gateway to iAGCO, the agency’s online service delivery portal and is adaptive for ease of use on tablets and mobile devices.
The agco.ca site provides information for all lines of business and is updated regularly to reflect new programs and changes in government policy. It also includes a dynamically generated and interactive map of all cannabis retail stores that have applied and been authorized by the AGCO. All information is posted in both English and French to meet the requirements of the French Language Services Act.
A key element of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) compliance is to ensure that the AGCO’s public website meets or exceeds the accessibility standards required under the AODA. The site is on track to meet the enhanced Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) AA standards by January 1, 2021.
The AGCO generates analytics reports that measure a number of key website performance indicators. These reports help gauge how well the site is contributing to business objectives related to education, awareness, and compliance. The AGCO also captures direct user feedback from users to better understand how easily users can find the information they came for. All of this is with the goal of continually improving and expanding the site to meet the needs of the AGCO’s stakeholders.
The AGCO is taking a more proactive approach to community engagement and exploring opportunities to expand its social media footprint in a manageable way.
The number of followers to the AGCO’s social media channels continues to grow. Every day, the AGCO publishes information about new applications for liquor licences and for cannabis retail stores with links to the process for the public to share their views or concerns.
To align with the Ontario Public Service’s digital objectives, the AGCO continues to pursue a digital first strategy. This includes producing and sharing engaging digital content (e.g. videos, infographics, images, etc.) and responding appropriately to relevant questions and inquiries within social communities.
The AGCO is expanding its use of videos to help clarify important processes or changes. These easy to understand and easy to share videos have proven popular and are used for a variety of topics, such as how to apply for or renew your licence on iAGCO, which are helpful resources for licensees and registrants as they shift to online transactions with the AGCO.
With the licensing of retail cannabis stores, the modernization of liquor, and changes to horse racing regulation, the number of AGCO media inquiries continues to rise. The AGCO is now receiving over 400 media inquiries each year, including those from newspapers, radio, magazines, web-based news blogs and television. While the AGCO does conduct radio and television interviews when requested, most of the inquiries are from local and regional newspapers and news blogs.
The agency strives to respond to these requests in a timely and transparent way. In 2019, a service standard was established to respond to media inquiries within three hours. If information is more detailed, we aim to provide the response by the next business day.
The AGCO regularly publishes and distributes newsletters in English and French to provide educational and compliance information to stakeholders and the public. These newsletters have transitioned to a digital format for ease of access, as well as to lower production and distribution costs and enable better content satisfaction tracking.
Licence Line is a newsletter published three times per year for liquor sales licensees. It covers a variety of issues important to that audience, including information on recent changes to liquor legislation, regulations, and policies, as well as industry news and tips for licence holders.
Lottery Line is a newsletter for lottery retailers and is published three times a year. It provides information and tips to educate sellers on the laws, regulations and policies governing the sale of OLG lottery products and break-open tickets.
Race Line is an informative and educational newsletter published three times a year for horse racing licensees and other parties interested in Ontario’s horse racing industry.