The following is a fact sheet on the Federal Identity Program. It was issued by Information Canada in 1971, after the first federal symbol was selected.

Federal Government Identity Program

What is it?

A system of designs, incorporating two devices from Canada’s flag, a bar and maple leaf, to be used to identify the Federal Government departments, agencies and other units and functions.

Why does the Government need such a program?

There are, at present, almost thirty different designs being used by departments. Agencies and other units of government have also designed their own, and new designs are being registered and adopted every year. The result is a confusing variety of federal identifications, which does not help Canadians to understand their federal system and the functions of their federal government.

Where will these new designs be used?

Everywhere there is an opportunity for the public and public servants to identify the federal government at work in the service of Canadians: on all stationery; cheques; most forms; publications; advertising; signs outside and inside buildings occupied by the government; vehicles; certain uniforms.

Is the Canadian Coat of Arms being replaced?

No. Presented to Canada by Queen Victoria at the time of Confederation, the Coat of Arms remains a symbol, or emblem of the nation as a whole. It has been used by the government and some of its departments over the years. However, it does not fill the need for a simple, readily recognizable and easily reproduced design identifying the federal government and administration as distinct from the nation itself.

Is the new design effective?

Interviews (carried out by Contemporary Research Centre of Toronto and Montreal) of 400 English and French-speaking citizens in London and Sherbrooke recently indicated a high degree of acceptance and recognition of the new design.

Who is responsible for the program?

In November of 1969, a graphic design consultant,
Communication Arts Centre Inc. of Montreal, was retained to study the possibilities for a system of designs to identify the federal government. The firm was paid $24,000 for its services. The new design has been approved by Cabinet, and Information Canada is directed to implement the federal identity program as soon as practicable.

Why wasn’t the maple leaf alone used?

This possibility was studied in great detail. However, there are hundreds of registered uses of the maple leaf commercially and probably thousands of unregistered uses. The problem was to use the maple leaf in a distinctive and authoritative way. The right to use the flag (and Coat of Arms) as an identifying mark is reserved to the federal government by chapter 9 of the Trade Marks Act.

The application of two of the flag’s elements (or “decorative devices” in heraldic terms) to the design offers distinctiveness and can be protected from use by others than the federal government.

How much is this program going to cost?

It is expected that with the standardization possible through this system of coordinated designs, and the reduction in the number of different forms used by the government (now approximately 150,000), substantial savings can be achieved. There will, of course, be “set-up” costs involved in the implementation of this program including a manual for usage and the orientation of those directly involved within the government. These costs are currently estimated at less than $200,000. A net saving should result if the purposes of the program are realized. A committee of public servants, chaired by Information Canada, is responsible for implementing the program over an extended period as present stocks of material are depleted.

Where can inquiries about this program be directed?

Staff responsible for the Federal Identity Program at Information Canada, 171 Slater Street in Ottawa, will be glad to answer any additional questions you may have.


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