Bio Pic

May 2018

MOVE catches up with the AAMVA Board’s Canadian jurisdiction representative

What led to your position as assistant deputy minister at the Ontario Ministry of Transportation?

I began my career with the MTO in the mid-’90s, with several roles that were focused on IT. Over the last 20 years working in the Ontario government, I have had the good fortune to move through various departments and see how other ministries functioned; each with a different way of delivering services, but all of them focused on supporting the citizens we serve.

Raising Money for Cancer
Kevin Byrnes wears pink at an event to raise money for cancer.

I recently returned to the Ministry of Transportation as we are focused on modernizing the delivery of driver and vehicle services; the opportunity for transformation is incredible, and the pride and commitment of staff is unparalleled. They have a deep-rooted desire to create partnerships and to keep both roads and drivers safe.

What are your current goals at the MTO?

My role is to create change in a well thought out and productive way. We are halfway through modernizing our technology to support driver services. We have moved our carrier system online and are building a plan to bring more online services on board, such as mobile driver licensing.

I want people to think in new ways. Let’s not limit this [revamp] to an approach we took five years ago; let’s see what all sectors need today. I want to pursue a more agile approach to bring new services along more quickly.

What I’ve learned is that there really is no end result in terms of modernization—change is always happening. We need new ways of looking at how government delivers services, and a framework under which the staff/experts can be responsive and think beyond governmental restraint. If I can deliver foundational pieces for a system like that, I will be happy.

Hockey Dad
Byrnes, pictured here with one of his daughters, is a self-proclaimed “hockey dad.”

What will you try to accomplish on AAMVA’s board as the representative from Canada?

I am bringing a new set of eyes to look at what is working well in the U.S., as well as share what is working in Canada. (I also serve on the board of the Council of Canadian Motor Transport Administrators, the CCMTA.) Many U.S. states are further along on mobile driver licensing, for example, and there are other models for adopting new ways of delivering services that I’d like to bring back to Ontario and the rest of Canada.

About what transportation-related issue(s) are you most passionate?

I would like to have policies and services evaluated from an outside-in perspective. How can we better respond to the various sectors of the driving public, such as the new driver sector? There should be a more proactive way to gather feedback or complaints from both private and commercial drivers. If something gets to the ombudsman stage, that means that the person didn’t get an answer or resolution to their complaint. We want to be more advisory than reactive, and make changes in advance that facilitate communication.

I think that the whole world is expecting government to be more receptive. We need to have a different mindset to work cooperatively with the public, industry and carriers, all while maintaining the safest roads in North America.

Throughout your career, is there one particular accomplishment you’re most proud of?

I have been involved in some truly transformative programs over the course of my time in government. When I worked in the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, I worked to harmonize a set of child welfare services that were being implemented in 45 agencies across Ontario. These were important services, and agencies had a multitude of different ways to implement them. We developed unified processes, then helped the agencies adopt new systems that allowed the agencies to treat all cases the same way. I was thrilled that I helped government work better to protect our most vulnerable citizens.

Donating Blood1
Kevin Byrnes gives back by donating blood.

And even though new technology was part of the solution, the focus should never be about the technology, per se. It’s about how to deliver a common set of services. We can adopt new methods and processes more easily if we are doing things the same way.