The following is a news release on the official introduction of the Canada wordmark to the Federal Identity Program. It was issued by Treasury Board Canada on February 23, 1981.

Use of the “Canada” wordmark in the Federal Identity Program

For Immediate Release
February 23, 1981

The “Canada” wordmark will be used extensively to identify federal facilities and services as part of the revised federal identity program announced today by Donald Johnston, President of the Treasury Board of Canada.

The federal identity program was introduced following the 1969 task force on government information which pointed to the need for a uniform identification of federal organizations. Before it was introduced, there was no standardization and each department was free to choose its own graphic symbols to identify its programs and services.

The consistent visual identification of the federal government helps people to recognize federal programs, services and facilities and gain access to them. It also aids in distinguishing federal services from those offered by other levels of government.

Under the federal identity program, each organization has a signature consisting of one of three symbols coupled with an applied bilingual title, rather than a legal title. For example, the Department of National Health and Welfare is known as Health and Welfare Canada. In order to underline the federal presence, the “Canada” wordmark will be used as well as the signature.

“The Canada” wordmark is intended to provide a clear and attractive expression of the federal presence. Prior to its introduction, we became aware of the need for a strong unifying symbol to complement often long and unwieldy organization titles,” Mr. Johnston said.

“I think Canadians will take pride in this symbol of our national unity which will be used by all organizations and other agencies which are often not perceived as being part of the government, but which are owned by the government and form part of the federal presence, ” he continued. “Canada is one of the first countries to adopt a strong corporate identity in order to make our services more accessible to Canadians.”

The wordmark was originally introduced by the Canadian Government Office of Tourism in 1965 and has been used in the promotion of tourism since then. Already appearing in government advertising, the symbol will soon be seen on all signs, vehicles and publications.

Use of the “Canada” wordmark will be phased in over a two-year period. It is anticipated that estimated costs of $7.8 million will be met within existing budgetary allocations. All vehicles will be “wordmarked” by spring, 1981, and conversion of government signs will be completed in 1982.

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Background Information on the Federal Identity Program

In 1978, a policy and guidelines on the application of the federal identity program was issued to departments. Design standards for signs, vehicles, stationery, publications and advertising were developed to illustrate the application of the policy. Guidelines were also issued on the use of the two official languages in identifying the federal government.

Recently, Treasury Board Canada issued a design guide on “Graphic symbols for public areas and occupational environment”. The guide provides government-wide standards for symbols used to regulate, warn or inform — such as indicating facilities for use by the handicapped, or messages related to safety.


The objectives of the federal identity program are to: identify federal activities consistently; project the federal presence; improve the graphic handling of official languages; and effect cost savings through standardization.


The program applies to 110 government organizations. Exempt are certain federal agencies, such as Air Canada and the CBC, which are engaged in commercial activity and need their own corporate identity to compete in the market-place. Other international organizations, such as the International Joint Council, or those in which other governments are major participants are also exempt from the program.


Under the program each organization has a signature which consists of a symbol and a short descriptive title, such as Labour Canada, rather than the legal title, Department of Labour. The word “Canada” is almost always part of this title.

One of the three symbols is used as part of the signature. The symbols are applied wherever the government is to be identified. In addition to letterheads, calling cards, news releases and publications, the symbols also appear on signs, vehicles, advertising, audio-visual productions and displays and exhibits.

The Coat of Arms is reserved for use by the legislature, the judiciary and for certain purposes outside Canada by External Affairs Canada.

The flag is reserved for the identification of Cabinet Ministers.

The federal symbol is used to identify most organizations. It consists of one bar and the leaf of the Canadian flag, and always appear to the left of the applied title.

The “Canada” wordmark is now the dominant element of the federal identity program.


A physical copy of this document is part of the federal identity archive.