Strategic Direction

Strategic planning goals and themes

The AGCO’s strategic plan outlines the vision and strategic goals for the organization. The AGCO is currently in the third year of its five-year strategic plan.

The AGCO seeks to achieve its vision of being a world-class regulator that is innovative, proactive, inclusive and socially responsible through its three strategic goals: Modern Regulator, Service Excellence and People First.

AGCO strategic plan. Text version below.

Text version of strategic plan
Our Strategic Goals Modern Regulator Service Excellence People First
Our Key Commitments
  • Serve the public interest through effective and innovative approaches to regulation in the alcohol, gaming, cannabis and horse racing sectors
  • Make evidence-based decisions to regulate in the public interest
  • Strengthen our organizational foundation to support the agency’s expanding priorities and business strategies
  • Continuously ensure a deep understanding of our stakeholders to anticipate and respond to their evolving needs
  • Provide a positive experience through the delivery of services that are clear, timely and that meet the expectations of those we serve
  • Champion an inclusive workplace by implementing recommendations from the AGCO’s DI&A strategy to further develop employee’s wellbeing and best serve the people of Ontario
  • Develop our talent to empower employees and nurture our internal talent succession pool

Performance measurement framework

The AGCO measures performance and program effectiveness by setting targets, assessing data and evaluating results. Through continuous evaluation and feedback, the AGCO is able to achieve the key objectives identified in the AGCO strategic plan.

The results from these measures, shown in the table below, demonstrate that the AGCO has met or surpassed the majority of agency targets, largely thanks to:

  • a continued focus on stakeholder engagement and an enhanced approach to stakeholder education;
  • a modern regulatory approach that is risk-based, outcomes-based and compliance- focused;
  • a “Future of Work” model that provides the tools and flexibility for a positive employee experience post-COVID;
  • the development of a strategy to address diversity, inclusion and accessibility at the AGCO;
  • the continuous optimization of iAGCO.

The AGCO is committed to further developing an agency-wide performance strategy. It has created a Business Optimization and Insights Branch to advance multi-year goal setting, link agency efforts to resource planning and develop a robust performance measurement framework to support transparency, accountability and regulatory effectiveness.


Modern Regulator

Key commitments

  • Serve the public interest through effective and innovative approaches to regulation in the alcohol, gaming, cannabis and horse racing sectors.
  • Make evidence-based decisions to regulate in the public interest.
  • Strengthen our organizational foundation to support the agency’s expanding priorities and business strategies.

Performance measure

The AGCO provides user-based services and information through multiple windows and service channels anytime and anywhere.

  • Outcome metric: % of users using digital options to transact with the AGCO meets or exceeds target of 85%.

Table 29—Digital First




% of users using digital options to transact with the AGCO


Overall: 70%

Applications: 92%

Complaints: 91%

Inquiries: 25%


Being a Modern Regulator remains a key commitment and shapes how the AGCO regulates and works with its stakeholders. The AGCO is committed to leveraging evidence and effective stakeholder engagement as part of the development and implementation of its regulatory direction. The following corporate projects are based on the AGCO’s commitment to the Modern Regulator strategic goal.

igaming Framework

The upcoming launch of Ontario’s igaming market on April 4, 2022, is a major milestone.

The AGCO developed a regulatory model for this new, competitive market that protects consumers and provides them with choice, reduces red tape and supports legal market growth and provincial returns.

This model reflects the AGCO’s regulatory objectives for igaming while meeting the unique requirements of the igaming open market. It was informed by a series of engagements with industry stakeholders on the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming (Standards) and the eligibility and compliance approaches for igaming. Following the federal government’s legalization of single-event sports betting, the AGCO also undertook stakeholder engagement on the regulatory standards for sports and event betting, which apply to all sports, esports, novelty and betting exchange.

Through the igaming regulatory model, the AGCO undertook several strategic shifts in its operational compliance and eligibility activities to ensure market participants act in accordance with the law, with honesty and integrity, and in the public interest.

The updated risk-based registration model emphasizes applicant ability to meet the Standards and previous experience of applicants, including history in leading jurisdictions. Compliance activities focus on ensuring regulatory objectives are met through innovative, targeted approaches. This includes setting compliance expectations for entry into the market through game and critical system testing and confirmations of full system compliance with the Standards, as well as setting and monitoring priority compliance areas, with targeted monitoring and interventions where appropriate.

The AGCO provided smooth service delivery to igaming customers, including:

  • publishing guides on its website to assist prospective igaming Operators and Gaming- Related Suppliers with the registration process (for example, the Internet Gaming Operator Application Guide) and to help them understand compliance requirements when participating in Ontario’s regulated market (for example, the Internet Gaming Go-Live Compliance Guide)
  • collaborating with iGaming Ontario on the development and coordination of a robust onboarding process to ensure igaming Operators have met all requirements to enter the market
  • implementing a robust customer service model for handling both regulatory and iGO matters, including responding to complaints and inquiries
  • making enhancements to the AGCO internet gaming portal, including the creation of a new player support section to provide players with information about the new igaming model and additional resources.

The AGCO also implemented system changes to support the launch of the new igaming market. This included updates to the iAGCO online portal to include igaming applications, processes for complaints and inquiries and ongoing monitoring and managing of compliance activities through regulatory intelligence data.

Auditor General of Ontario: AGCO Value for Money Audit Report

In December 2020, the Auditor General of Ontario released a Value for Money (VFM) Audit Report of the AGCO. The report contained 26 recommendations and proposed 62 action items, along with management responses from the AGCO and the Ministry of the Attorney General; 56 of the action items were assigned to the AGCO for response.

The implementation of the Auditor General of Ontario’s recommendations is one of the AGCO’s five corporate priorities. The AGCO established a dedicated VFM Audit Action Plan Project Team with project leads overseeing working groups to address each recommendation and related action items.

Throughout 2021, the AGCO provided regular quarterly updates to Ontario Internal Audit. The AGCO provided an update outlining the completed and outstanding undertakings for each recommendation to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts in April 2021.

As a result of the recommendations, the AGCO has improved and strengthened regulatory processes within its operations and introduced new functionality into iAGCO. Recommendations have been implemented through robust government partnerships that support the AGCO’s regulatory mandates.

The AGCO remains committed to its action plan and recognizes the value of the Auditor General of Ontario’s recommendations to enhance its effectiveness as a modern regulator. This remains a corporate priority for fiscal year 2022–2023.

Liquor modernization

The Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019 (LLCA) came into effect on November 29, 2021, marking a major milestone for liquor regulation in Ontario. The new liquor framework under the LLCA enables the AGCO to modernize the way it regulates the sale, service and delivery of liquor and allows for a more flexible approach.

The new liquor framework is designed to reduce burden, facilitate better monitoring and compliance and reflect the changing liquor landscape for the benefit of Ontarians. It includes the introduction of a new liquor licence and permit structure and the transfer of the regulatory authority for some activities from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) to the AGCO.

The Registrar’s Interim Standards and Requirements for Liquor (Interim Standards) came into effect under the LLCA and primarily maintain and consolidate many of the previous requirements. Over the coming years, the AGCO will build on this work to develop a comprehensive outcomes-based regulatory model, consistent with our overall strategic approach for other regulated sectors.

Enhanced social responsibility measures were also introduced with the creation of a new re- certification requirement for licensees relating to the responsible sale, service and delivery training (such as Smart Serve). The AGCO adopted this industry best practice in recognition of the significant modernization of Ontario’s liquor sector and the need for continued commitment to social responsibility and public protection in the liquor sector.

Under the LLCA, several new permissible activities for licence holders took effect, including:

  • all licensed grocery stores may offer beer, wine and cider (as applicable) online for curbside pick-up at the store, as permitted under their licence;
  • licensed grocery stores are permitted to display non-liquor products, excluding energy drinks and products that promote immoderate consumption, within the contiguous aisles where liquor products (that is, beer, cider, wine) are displayed;
  • Liquor Sales Licence holders are permitted to infuse liquor to create drinks or change the flavour of liquor through practices such as barrel aging, as long as the customer is informed;
  • a new temporary extension endorsement allows manufacturers with a retail store at their production site to sell liquor products at industry promotional events, in addition to farmers’ markets;
  • the removal of alcohol by volume (ABV) limits that wine and brew pubs were previously subject to (previously, wine pubs could not sell wine with greater than 14% ABV and brew pubs could not sell beer with greater than 6.5% ABV);
  • ferment on premise facilities are permitted to combine multiple customers’ ingredients, allowing innovative practices such as barrel aging;
  • manufacturers are permitted to deliver the liquor products of other licensed manufacturers that have an on-site retail store (a new delivery endorsement enables this activity).

Equine welfare

The AGCO continues to be an industry leader in promoting equine health and safety. In fiscal year 2021–2022, reviews of equine fatalities were enhanced by conducting more toxicological analysis looking for both therapeutic medication and non-therapeutic performance-enhancing substances. Additionally, trainer medication records and treating veterinarian medical records were reviewed with greater scrutiny to improve their quality.

Acknowledging the critical role they play in preventing equine fatalities, AGCO Veterinary Services started meeting with trainers and their veterinarians to share information. These measures are in keeping with the AGCO’s strategic goal to be a Modern Regulator and make evidence-based decisions to regulate in the public interest.

The Regulatory Compliance Branch continues its work on horse welfare to identify significant variables and horses at risk of injury and improve processes. Newly implemented measures include the use of safety reports to help select at-risk racetrack-stabled thoroughbreds for non– race day veterinary examinations. Safety reports are generated by a Jockey Club subsidiary and are leveraged with in-house subject matter expertise to select horses for unannounced examinations to spot lameness issues earlier.

Service Excellence

Key commitments

  • Continuously ensure a deep understanding of our stakeholders to anticipate and respond to their evolving needs.
  • Provide a positive experience through the delivery of services that are clear, timely and that meet the expectations of those we serve.

Performance measures

Table 30—Service Experience

A service-centred design that optimizes the service experience, engages customers proactively and identifies opportunities for improvements.

  • Output metric: Online application turnaround time (in days) meets or is lower than target of 20 days.
  • Outcome metric: % of clients satisfied with services meets or exceeds target of 75%.




Online application turnaround time (in days)



% of clients satisfied with services




  • Turnaround time was affected by COVID-19 and the rollout of iAGCO online services to charitable gaming licensees in November 2020.
  • The turnaround time includes application turnaround times and auto-renewals completed on the iAGCO portal.
  • The “clients satisfied with services” metric is an average based on AGCO website, iAGCO portal and telephone calls.

Table 31—Value for Money

Ensuring value per transaction (internal and external) with a focus on streamlining process and reducing regulatory burden.

  • Output metric: % of applications for SOPs auto-issued meets or exceeds target of 90%.




% of applications for SOPs auto-issued




Service Excellence is a core foundation embedded throughout the AGCO’s work, from both the AGCO’s core service delivery to licensing and registration, compliance, and investigations and enforcement. All corporate projects are viewed through a Service Excellence lens, ensuring that the AGCO builds programs and policies that best serve the needs of our customers.

Clear and timely services that meet expectations

The AGCO is committed to creating a positive experience for our stakeholders through the delivery of clear, timely services and meeting the expectations of those we serve. Through iAGCO, the agency’s digital services portal, 83,678 customer service transactions were initiated. The AGCO Customer Service supported 104,049 customer interactions including calls, webchats, online inquiries, email, and regular mail; 93% of Contact Centre customers received resolution to their inquiry or concern at their initial point of contact.

Due to public health requirements that limited in-person service delivery, the majority of AGCO services were delivered remotely in 2021–2022, with the exception of race day activities in horse racing. In preparation for a return to normal operations, the AGCO modernized its approach to in-person services by introducing a by-appointment model. This change in service approach reflects shifting customer preferences away from in-person services that began prior to the pandemic with an uptake in digital service delivery and was further accelerated to meet public health requirements.

With the AGCO’s contact centre platform set to be decommissioned by its service provider, in 2021–2022 the AGCO started plans to replace and update its enterprise contact centre solution. This work will include the launch of a new multiple-channel solution in 2022–2023 that replaces current functionality and positions the AGCO to meet evolving customer preferences and expectations of a modern contact centre environment.

In response to opportunities identified by the Auditor General of Ontario to improve complaints handling, the AGCO created new procedures and staff training. The AGCO successfully reduced the time to complete complaints-based inspections from 18.9 to 15.4 business days.

Customer-centric design and delivery

To improve the design and delivery of AGCO services, the AGCO is working to better understand our stakeholders. Customer First training was provided to staff starting in 2020– 2021 to encourage greater awareness and skills development in the area of customer-centric design at the AGCO.

Service design tools and methodologies were applied to key corporate projects to improve customer journeys and improve service outcomes. This included:

  • the use of customer research, persona development and journey mapping to design and validate the iGaming Service model for Operators, Suppliers and Players;
  • process improvements and enhanced communications to support the Cannabis Retail Store Application process;
  • updates to the AGCO in-person service model.

The AGCO uses service insights such as Customer Satisfaction Surveys, and complaints, inquiries and service performance measures from iAGCO, to better listen to customers and identify opportunities for service improvement. This has led to improvements to both the website and iAGCO application guidance.

Service metrics

Table 32—Service provision




Telephone Contacts (Contact Centre)



In-person customers (Head Office)


(Head office in-person services were halted and transitioned online due to the COVID-19 pandemic)


(Head office in-person services were halted and transitioned online due to the COVID-19 pandemic)

Self-Help (using automated voice messaging system)






Table 33—Communication with AGCO stakeholders




AGCO website visits



Overall website traffic change compared to the previous fiscal year



Number of engagements (retweets, replies

and likes) received by the AGCO’s Twitter accounts from users



Number of AGCO direct email campaigns



Total number of emails sent by the AGCO to licensee and stakeholder groups across all regulated sectors



Note: Twitter engagement numbers are lower this year due to a decrease in content from the AGCO Twitter account. A significant portion of the Twitter account is related to public notices.

Table 34—Service metrics










% of complaints that were not addressed within 30 days (cancelled complaints excluded)



Table 35—Online service and autorenewal

The following table shows the percentage of licences, registration and authorizations in regulated sectors that were automatically renewed.




Gaming registration auto-renewals



Horse Racing auto-renewals



Liquor licences auto-renewals



Cannabis auto-renewals



People First

Key commitments

  • Champion an inclusive workplace by implementing recommendations from the AGCO’s DI&A strategy to further develop employees’ wellbeing and best serve the people of Ontario.
  • Develop our talent to empower employees and nurture our internal talent succession pool.

Performance measures

Table 36—Employee experience

The level of engagement and enablement is directly correlated with higher productivity, increased motivation and job satisfaction.

  • Outcome metric: The percentage of AGCO staff who would recommend AGCO as a place to work meets or exceeds target of 75%.
  • Outcome metric: The percentage of AGCO staff who believe they have opportunities to have their ideas adopted and put into use meets or exceeds target of 70%.




The % of AGCO staff who would recommend AGCO as a place to work



The % of AGCO staff who believe they have opportunities to have their ideas adopted and put into use





Note: The measures above reflect one point in time and are sourced from a survey conducted in September 2021.


The AGCO continues to invest in the strength of our people and understands the importance of developing and fostering this organizational priority. A people-first mindset and an ongoing commitment to diversity, inclusion and accessibility are central to achieving progress on this strategic goal.

Diversity, inclusion and accessibility

The AGCO is committed to addressing the needs and concerns of its diverse workforce and increasing equity for all, including racialized communities in Canada, Indigenous peoples, members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, persons with disabilities, and women. The AGCO strives to create a progressive, flexible culture of accountability and trust to empower and foster the growth of our employees.

The AGCO remains committed to delivering inclusive, accessible and responsive services to the public and our stakeholders, which align with our organizational values of integrity, respect, accountability and serving the public interest.

Over the past year, the AGCO worked closely with an objective third-party consultant to help craft a DI&A implementation plan for the AGCO’s workforce and position it as a DI&A leader.

In 2021–2022 the consultant:

  • assessed the AGCO’s current state as a benchmark as it relates to diversity and inclusion;
  • conducted stakeholder analysis that identifies key stakeholders and obtains their feedback on both current state and the desired future aspirations of workforce DI&A initiatives;
  • developed the AGCO’s DI&A strategy complete with vision, mission, goals, objectives, actions and metrics.

In late 2021, the consulting team provided recommendations for consideration as the AGCO develops its DI&A implementation plan, many of which are already being implemented. For example, to enhance organizational accountability, during the 2021–2022 year, the AGCO engaged staff in DI&A activities such as:

  • recognizing and celebrating days and events of significance throughout the year for our diverse workforce;
  • providing land acknowledgements prior to meetings, from locations throughout the province where AGCO employees live;
  • updating professional development plans to encourage greater engagement between managers and staff;
  • initiating cultural competence workshops for leadership staff.

The AGCO will continue to explore the recommendations as it takes its next steps along the DI&A journey. During 2021–2022, the AGCO has made progress in enriching its equity program offerings and built on its commitment to be an inclusive, people-first organization.