With a plan to reduce the total number of governmental datacenters from 300 to only 20, Canada's plan seems far more radical than the US plan to reduce from more than 2000 datacenters to 800. But Canada's consolidation plan, which moves IT services into a new agency called Shared Services Canada looks to save money strictly through consolidation, with no new technology spending, on facilities, equipment, or personnel.
With only 11% of the population of the US, the Canadian government's yearly IT budget of approximately $5,000,000,000 still doesn't seem like much given the large geographic area and the need to provide government services in many remote rural areas. They expect the consolidation to reduce the budget no more than $200 million each year, so it would seem that the datacenters haven't been all that expensive to operate, especially when you get to the root of the matter.
That root problem seems to be not to be so much the actual datacenters, but the ongoing costs of supporting over 100 different email installations. The government is currently running all of these mail systems as separate entities, with about 5% of the employees using Novell GroupWise, 15% using Lotus Notes, and the remaining 80% on versions of Microsoft Outlook, presumably with Exchange back ends. The current plan is to consolidate those 100 plus email networks into a single email solution, which should see major savings in the cost of licensing and end-user support. Additional savings are hoped to be found by consolidating some of the more than 3000 overlapping governmental network installations, as well.
From the information provided it seems that the Canadian government suffers from an oversized version of the rapid growth in PC-based networking experienced by US businesses in the 1990's, where every department decided it wanted, and needed , its own network and software solutions. It's only taken another two decades, but it seems that Canada is catching up with the times.