Although videoconferencing remained popular throughout 2022-23, the lifting of the latest travel restrictions related to COVID-19 resulted in a return to face-to-face conferences; the vast majority of which were in fact hybrid meetings. As this type of conference requires additional human and technical resources, hybrid conferencing resulted in an increase of costs. This was compounded by a significant inflation in prices which increased the average cost of in-person events from approximately $27,000 in 2019-20 to approximately $42,700 in 2022-23; This represents a 58% increase in costs over a period of just two years. This considerable increase in costs has had a serious impact on CICS’ ability to financially support the numerous conference requests it received. Throughout the year and despite the financial challenges outlined above, the Agency demonstrated its capacity to respond, often on short notice, to the very high demand for services, ensuring that they remained relevant, forward-looking and of the highest quality. CICS was able to successfully serve 44 videoconferences and 37 in-person conferences, for a total of 81 events.

Throughout the fiscal year 2022-23, CICS tested and implemented a series of innovations that created efficiencies and enhanced service delivery related to conference services. The most impactful innovation was the introduction of remote interpretation services. The significant demand for interpretation services required that CICS strengthen its network of private sector interpretation and audiovisual suppliers. The Agency tested audiovisual service companies to ensure they had the equipment and technical skills to support remote interpretation. The implementation of remote interpretation has led to significant cost savings, and CICS now offers remote interpretation services for all in-person and virtual conferences, when possible.

In 2022-23, CICS continued to mitigate the risk that the organization would be unable to sustain an adequate workforce with the appropriate competencies due to a large turnover of staff (attributed to retirements and departures, provincial-territorial secondment rotations, and peak period staffing). CICS mitigated this risk by implementing staffing strategies to enable the continued staffing of key positions, including career development opportunities, staffing pools, taking advantage of the Federal Student Work Experience Program, and implementing temporary staffing actions to ensure prompt staffing at peak intervals. CICS also continued to promote job rotations, as the lean nature of a micro-agency emphasizes the need for an agile and multi-skilled workforce.