If I were to suggest that we build certain roads just for cars and different roads for trucks, all going in same direction to the same place, you would think I was nuts. But that’s exactly what the government does for Ontario’s information and information technology world.

Today the Information Technology Association of Canada hosted a roundtable breakfast event for corporate chief information officers.  The discussions were about the state of the government’s various IT projects and what more needs to be done within the eight different IT clusters that cover the province’s 28 different ministries.

While the information discussed was clearly important to the IT vendor community, something struck me: There haven’t been any discussions within the Government about connecting their IT networks and reducing operating and development costs.

Today, the government funds (either directly or indirectly) several private IT networks: the Infrastructure Technology Services Network, Orion (the university and colleges network), E-Health Ontario, Cancer Care Ontario and the Ontario Telemedicine Network. Each network has its own governance, planning, leadership and development structure. In short, they all do pretty much the same thing and connect many of the same geographies.

In contrast, other Canadian provinces build unified networks for all their ministries collective requirements.

But, we’re in Ontario so we need to build an Ontario solution.

Let’s consider Canada’s national banks. Any of the big five banks have thousands of employees in Canada and around the world, thousands of locations, hundreds of thousands of customers, millions of accounts and hundreds of banking products all operating on one network. It has to make you think that perhaps Ontario should be looking at one network for all of its ministries as an effective way to improve efficiencies and operating costs.

But then again, we’re in Ontario, so we need to find an Ontario made solution.

Harvey Nightingale is a Senior Associate with Hill & Knowlton Toronto.