Recent Activity

No comments found

Draft New Plan on Open Government 2016-2018

Read Canada’s Third Biennial Plan to the Open Government Partnership (2016-18).

The consultation period on this draft is closed, but we want this to be an ongoing dialogue. Please contact us at any time.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

“Canadians need to have faith in their government’s honesty and willingness to listen. That is why we committed to set a higher bar for openness and transparency in Ottawa. Government and its information must be open by default. Simply put, it is time to shine more light on government to make sure it remains focused on the people it was created to serve – you.”

- The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.

Openness and transparency are fundamental to ensuring Canadians’ trust in their government and in democracy overall. Citizens expect their government to be open, transparent, and accountable. They also expect their government to deliver real, meaningful results, in a fair, efficient, and responsible manner. The Government of Canada’s commitment to openness is intended to foster greater transparency and accountability, and to help create a more cost-effective, efficient, and responsive government for all Canadians.

Towards an Open and Transparent Government

Open and transparent government figures prominently in the agenda of the federal government. In the  Speech from the Throne and the most recent federal budget in , the Government committed to Canadians and Parliamentarians to raise the bar for openness and transparency. The Government of Canada will restore trust in public institutions by conducting business in an open and transparent way and making sure Canadians’ voices are heard.

Leadership on Open Government is a shared responsibility across government, with many Cabinet ministers having responsibility for leading specific transparency-related initiatives. Key examples include:

  • the creation of a Chief Science Officer by the Minister of Science to ensure that government science is fully available to the public;
  • electoral and Senate reform by the Minister of Democratic Institutions to strengthen the openness and fairness of Canada’s public institutions;
  • work by the Minister of Finance and the President of the Treasury Board to make government accounting and financial reporting more consistent, transparent, and understandable to Canadians; and
  • a review of the Access to Information Act, and efforts to accelerate and expand initiatives to help Canadians easily access and use open data, by the President of the Treasury Board working with the ministers of Justice and Democratic Institutions.

The Treasury Board President is the Minister responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of Canada’s national action plans on open government. In Budget 2016, the Government of Canada announced an investment of $11.5M over five years to double the Treasury Board Secretariat’s (TBS) capacity to support engagement with Canadians, to design and deliver an ambitious open government strategy, and to accelerate the provision of digital content. It also provided $12.9M over five years to make it easier for Canadians to access government information, including their personal information.

A Joint Effort

Beyond the activities of federal departments and agencies, other levels of government are also actively involved in open government. Provinces, territories, and municipalities across the country are making key advances in open data and open dialogue. Responsibility for many important issues such as climate change, education, and growing the economy is shared across the multiple levels of government in Canada. Governments in Canada are committed to working together. Through a collaborative, coordinated approach, partners can bring together data and information from across jurisdictions. In turn, this can provide Canadian information seekers with a single view of the data and information they want, regardless of where it originates.

The Open Government Partnership

Open government is increasingly becoming a global priority. Governments around the world are taking advantage of digital technologies to advance transparency and make information more readily available to the public. This in turn can feed innovation and permit citizens to participate more fully in the activities of government. The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a multilateral initiative to foster greater transparency and accountability, improve governance, and increase civic engagement worldwide. OGP members are expected to develop national action plans to be implemented over a two-year period. Plans must advance the principles of transparency, accountability, citizen participation, and technology and innovation. The OGP also expects countries to select one or more “Grand Challenges” and identify related commitments that reflect their unique context. The OGP’s five “Grand Challenges” are:

  • Improving Public Services: Measures that address the full range of citizen services by fostering public service improvement or private sector innovation;
  • Increasing Public Integrity: Measures that address corruption and public ethics, access to information, campaign finance reform, and media and civil society freedom;
  • More Effectively Managing Public Resources: Measures that address budgets, procurement, natural resources and foreign assistance;
  • Creating Safer Communities: Measures that address public safety, the security sector, disaster and crisis response, and environmental threats; and
  • Increasing Corporate Accountability: Measures that address corporate responsibility on issues such as the environment, anti-corruption, consumer protection, and community engagement.

Through the OGP, governments have worked to develop innovative approaches to serving the public. They are making it easier to access government services and communicate with officials, and making valuable information readily available to the public. Canada is active as a global leader on open government and joined the OGP in . Through this forum, Canada has both shared and learned from international best practices to advance priorities and standards for openness. Canada provided guidance to countries around the world through its chairing of the OGP’s Open Data Working Group, and spearheaded the development of common open data principles and standards for worldwide adoption. Canada was recently ranked 4th out of 92 countries by the World Wide Web Foundation’s Open Data Barometer which measures countries’ readiness to implement open data initiatives, their progress in implementing open data, and the results they are achieving using open data.

II. Progress to Date

Since becoming a member of the OGP, Canada has deepened and expanded its efforts to advance the principles of openness, transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement across government. Canada’s second Action Plan on Open Government included 12 commitments under three key pillars: Open Data, Open Information, and Open Dialogue. More than 50 deliverables and activities were completed, such as:

  • Launching a new Open Government Portal (open.canada.ca): The open.canada.ca portal was officially launched in . It features enhanced navigation and search capabilities, thematic open data communities, improved consultation and engagement capacity, tools for national open government partners, and one-stop access to information provided by departments.
  • Issuing a Directive on Open Government: Designed to maximize the release of eligible federal data and information, this Directive requires departments and agencies to develop and publish plans for implementing the Directive’s requirements over five years.
  • Hosting the International Open Data Conference (IODC) 2015: Canada hosted the 3rd International Open Data Conference in , the largest event of its kind to date. The IODC provided a forum for more than 1,000 representatives from the international open data community to come together to develop a roadmap for enhanced global collaboration on open data.

In the last eight months, Canada has undertaken additional activities to enhance open government both at home and abroad, and demonstrated a strong commitment to openness and transparency:

  • Publication of Mandate Letters: For the first time in Canada’s history, mandate letters from the Prime Minister to all federal Cabinet ministers were published online so Canadians can better understand the government’s priorities and have the necessary tools to hold government accountable on its commitments.
  • “Open and Accountable Government” Guide for Ministers: A guide setting out Ministers’ roles and responsibilities in Canada’s system of responsible parliament was also published online in to provide Ministers with practical guidance for performing their mandates and demonstrate expectations for the conduct of Ministers to Canadians.
  • Cabinet Committee on Open and Transparent Government: The mandate of this new Cabinet committee is to consider issues concerning the reform of democratic institutions and processes, and improving government transparency and openness.
  • Restoring the Long-Form Census: To support evidence-based decision making on programs and policies and provide better and more timely services to Canadians, the Government of Canada reinstated the mandatory long-form census. The long-form census includes more-detailed questions on the demographic, social and economic situation of people across Canada and the dwellings they live in, providing a rich source of data on Canadian society.
  • International Open Data Charter: Canada championed the development of a new International Open Data Charter in collaboration with governments and civil society organizations around the world. This provides a foundation of global open data principles, standards, and practices to enable jurisdictions around the world to strengthen implementation of their open data initiatives. More than 20 governments have formally adopted the Charter, with nearly 30 additional private and civil society organizations around the world also endorsing the Charter’s principles.

In , the OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) published its report on Canada’s progress (PDF, 1.34 MB) in implementing its second Action Plan. This mid-term report observed that all of Canada’s commitments were clearly relevant to advancing the objectives and values of the OGP, and that Canada had substantially completed two-thirds of them by the end of 2015. The IRM also provided key recommendations on areas to focus future open government activities, including reforming Access to Information legislation, increasing data quality, and supporting meaningful public dialogue. These recommendations have inspired many of the commitments in Canada’s New Plan on Open Government.

III. Developing Canada’s New Plan

Canada’s New Plan on Open Government has been developed in consultation with citizens, civil society organizations, and the private sector, and in collaboration with other levels of government in Canada.

As part of his keynote address to the Canadian Open Dialogue Forum on , Treasury Board President Scott Brison launched a series of public consultations to support development of the plan. This consultation was completed over a three-month period and leveraged both in-person and online approaches to engaging Canadians:

  • Online consultations were undertaken from to to support the identification and development of ideas for open government activities;
  • In-person, roundtable discussions and workshops were held with citizens, civil society, private sector, and a variety of other stakeholders in 7 cities across Canada;
  • Bilateral discussions were undertaken with key members of civil society on specific transparency issues in key domains;
  • Federal, provincial, and municipal officials convened at the Canadian Open Government Leaders Summit on to explore potential collaboration on joint transparency initiatives; and
  • An increased focus was placed on the use of social media (e.g. Twitter, Google Hangout, etc.) to expand the reach of public engagement.

Canadians were invited to share and discuss their ideas for open government commitments to address a number of broad themes which reflect international trends in open government, targeted “grand challenges” identified by the Open Government Partnership, and key areas of activity where accelerated openness and transparency can have the greatest potential impact.

Topics discussed included:

  • Making government information open by default.
  • Ensuring easy and consistent access to government data and information to facilitate value-added analysis and reuse.
  • Seeking citizen input into how to set priorities for releasing information and data.
  • Presenting data and information in plain language.
  • Making financial information more readily available and easier to track.
  • Cooperating among all levels of government in Canada.
  • Providing Canadians with the information they need to participate fully in the democratic process.
  • Engaging Canadians on defining problems, not just solutions.
  • Connecting external experts with government experts.

Full details of the results of these consultation activities will be published in a What We Heard report to be made available on open.canada.ca.

IV. Canada’s Open Government Commitments (2016-2018)

Canada’s New Plan on Open Government consists of 22 commitments that help address four of the OGP’s Grand Challenges: improving public services, increasing public integrity, more effectively managing public resources, and increasing corporate accountability. These commitments have been selected by considering the extent to which they reflect the following characteristics:

  • Relevance: Does the activity support the Government’s open and transparent mandate commitments, the Speech from the Throne, and/or Budget 2016? Does it relate to one or more of the OGP’s Grand Challenges?
  • Transformative Impact: Is the activity ambitious, supporting change to the status quo? Does it help move the Government of Canada further along the Open Government scale?
  • Efficiency: Does the activity improve efficiencies within the Government of Canada, among stakeholders, and/or between the government and stakeholders?
  • Audience Reach: Will the activity have a broad effect on a wide range of Canadians, including citizens, civil society, academia, and industry?
  • Public Support: Have Canadians indicated their support and interest in this activity through public consultations, civil society discussions, or through other means?
  • Capacity: Is the Government of Canada able to implement the activity within expected timeframes?

Canada’s previous Action Plans included commitments grouped under open data, open information, and open dialogue, and the Government of Canada remains committed to advancing those three key types of activity. Many open government activities, however, touch on more than one category of activity. As well, feedback from Canadians during public consultations indicated that open government efforts should be focussed on achieving goals. Rather than being organized in terms of data, information, and dialogue, Canada’s approach in this new plan is structured within four priority areas:

  1. Open by Default: Canadians can easily access government data and information in open, standardized formats. Citizens have the tools and information they need to hold government to account, which builds trust in public institutions;
  2. Fiscal Transparency: Government of Canada financial and budget information is available and easy to understand, allowing Canadians to track how their tax dollars are spent and understand how government fiscal decisions are made, and enabling Parliament to review and approve government spending;
  3. Innovation, Prosperity, and Sustainable Development: Government data and information can be used in innovative ways by Canadians to improve their lives, their businesses, and their country; and to create sustainable, inclusive social and economic progress worldwide; and
  4. Engaging Canadians and the World: Canadians have the information they need to meaningfully interact with and participate in their democracy. They have the opportunity to make their voices heard on government policy and programs from the start. Canada demonstrates leadership by championing open government principles and initiatives around the world.

A. Open by Default

The Government of Canada has committed to being “open by default”, sharing government data and information, wherever feasible, to provide public benefit, support citizen engagement, and strengthen accountability. This data and information belongs to Canadians, and there is a broad range of benefits associated with making it open and available for reuse. Open by default is about providing easy and consistent access to government data and information in open, standardized, digital formats. This gives Canadians the tools and information they need to hold government to account. It helps build public confidence and mutual trust between citizens and government, a critical ingredient for effective government.

Being “open by default” means not only providing proactive access to open data and information, it also means responding efficiently and effectively to Canadians’ requests for government information, including their own personal information. It means simple, affordable, and efficient systems for requesting information, and meaningful responses to these requests in a timely manner.

Being “open by default” also means allowing Canadians to more easily access government services through a single online window. Government is here to serve Canadians, and the more effective those services are, the better the government is performing. By openly tracking performance against service standards, the government can foster greater trust by Canadians in their public institutions, while at the same time driving service delivery improvements.

Shifting to greater sharing of data and information requires a great deal of work, and a fundamental shift in government’s way of doing business. Public servants need to have the skills and leadership to make openness part of their day-to-day work. Canadians need to have confidence that government is moving forward, becoming more open and transparent, and delivering on commitments. They also need to know that those commitments are having an impact, making government decision-making processes better and improving programs and services. Strong measurement and accountability frameworks will help demonstrate the value of “open by default”.

Commitment 1: Enhance Access to Information

The Government of Canada will move forward on a first round of concrete proposals to improve the Access to Information Act, informed by the views of Parliament, the Information Commissioner, and consultations with Canadians, and will then undertake a full review of the Act by no later than 2018.

Why do this:

Canada was an early adopter of access to information legislation, first introducing the Access to Information Act in 1983. The Access to Information Act maintains openness and transparency by serving the important public interest of enabling public debate on the conduct of government institutions, in turn strengthening the accountability of the Government of Canada to Canadians. In recent years, the need to update the Act has been noted during open government consultations and by the Information Commissioner as well as other stakeholders. It has not been significantly updated since 1983.

How will it be done:

In , the Government announced a two-step approach to revitalize access to information: (1) move forward in the near term on the Government’s commitments to improve the Access to Information Act, followed by (2) a full review of the Act, no later than 2018.

The Government’s commitments to improve the Act in the near term include:

  • Making government data and information open by default, in formats that are modern and easy to use;
  • Eliminating all fees, except for the initial $5 filing fee;
  • Providing requestors with a written explanation when information cannot be released;
  • Giving Government institutions and the Information Commissioner authority to decline to process requests that are frivolous or vexatious;
  • Giving the Information Commissioner the power to order the release of government information;
  • Ensuring that the Access to Information Act applies appropriately to the Prime Minister’s and Ministers’ Offices, as well as administrative institutions that support Parliament and the courts;
  • Undertaking a mandatory legislative review of the Access to Information Act every five years; and
  • Strengthening performance reporting on the Access to Information program.

To make early progress on these commitments, on the Government of Canada issued an Interim Directive on the Administration of the Access to Information Act. The Directive sends a strong message across federal institutions that government information belongs to the people it serves and should be open by default. It emphasizes that government information should be available to the public, except in very limited and specific situations when it must be protected for reasons such as privacy, confidentiality, and security.  The Directive also directs federal officials to:

  • waive all Access to Information fees apart from the $5 filing fee; and
  • release information in user-friendly formats (e.g. spreadsheets), whenever feasible.
Milestones:
  • Seek input from Parliament, the Information Commissioner, stakeholders and through consultations with Canadians on how to revitalize access to information.
  • Introduce legislation to move forward on improvements to the Access to Information Act.
  • Once this first round of improvements has been implemented, undertake a full review of the Access to Information Act by no later than 2018.
Lead Department:

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, working with Justice Canada and the Privy Council Office

Commitment 2: Streamline Requests for Personal Information

The Government of Canada will make it easier for Canadians to access their own personal information held by the federal government.

Why do this:

Transparency includes providing Canadians with timely access to their own personal information held by government.

How will it be done:

To make it easier for Canadians to access government information, including their personal information, the Government will create a simple, central website where Canadians can submit requests to any government institution. This will be backed up with a 30-day guarantee for personal information requests: should a request take longer than 30 days to fulfill, it is proposed that the Government will provide a written explanation for the delay to the requester and to the Privacy Commissioner.

Milestones:
  • Develop a central website where Canadians can submit personal information requests to any government institution, with first phase of roll-out targeted for 2018.
  • Implement a 30-day guarantee for requests for personal information, backed by a commitment to provide a written explanation to the requester and the Privacy Commissioner should a request take longer than 30 days to fulfill.
Lead Department:

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Commitment 3: Expand and Improve Open Data

The Government of Canada will increase the quality and visibility of federal data holdings and set measurable targets for the release of open data over the next five years.

Why do this:

Open data has the potential to transform how government officials make decisions and how citizens interact with government. By providing a range of quality open data from reliable sources, Canada will support informed participation and engagement in the development of programs, services, and policies by citizens and government workers alike. The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that its data is open by default. Data must be discoverable, accessible, and reusable without restriction so as to enhance transparency, enable better services to Canadians, facilitate innovation, and inform public participation.

How will it be done:

Over the last five years, federal departments and agencies have established a good foundation of available open data. The Treasury Board Secretariat’s Directive on Open Government requires federal departments to maximize the release of eligible government data and publish Open Government Implementation Plans outlining how they would implement the Directive's requirements.

The next step is about increasing the diversity, timeliness, and quality of data released, to maximize the potential impact of the reuse of the government’s data by Canadians. As an example, Statistics Canada will increase access to high-quality statistical information in open formats, including releasing all 2016 Census data a full 10 months sooner than the 2011 Census. Steps will also be taken to ensure the data are well understood by Canadians.

In addition, a key focus will be placed on streamlining and improving the process by which departments proactively disclose information on government spending and human resources online. Finally, the Government of Canada will continue to take advantage of opportunities to share best practices and work with data experts both nationally and internationally to improve its own open data services and support the release of high quality data.

Milestones:
  • Develop and publish departmental inventories of federal data, as required by the Directive on Open Government, to support collaboration with the public on setting priorities for the release of open data.
  • Set a baseline for the total volume of open data to be released over time and establish departmental targets for the publication of releasable data over the next five years:
    • Publish departmental targets and progress on departments’ release of open data.
  • Develop and refine guidance to help federal departments and agencies set priorities for the release of high-value open data and understand the specific circumstances under which data cannot be released for privacy, security, and/or confidentiality reasons:
    • Establish data quality standards for open data;
    • Develop metadata standards to enhance data interoperability and discoverability; and
    • Develop guidance on the anonymization of datasets.
  • Provide access to high-quality, open statistical data and information from Statistics Canada, free of charge, in machine-readable formats under an open license and accessible via open.canada.ca:
    • Release the results of the 2016 Census (Short Form and Long Form) in 2017 based on a published release schedule; and
    • Host on-line “Chat with an Expert” and in-person “Talking Stats” sessions to enable Canadians to interact with Statistics Canada analysts and better understand the published data.
  • Improve Canadians’ access to data and information proactively disclosed by departments and agencies through a single, common online search tool:
    • Enhance self-service tools for departments to publish proactive disclosure information to strengthen the quality of data being released.
  • Adopt the International Open Data Charter and initiate implementation of the Charter requirements:
    • Encourage civil society and private sector organizations to open up their own data where this would be of public benefit; and
    • Measure progress and report on Canada’s implementation of Charter principles.
Lead Departments:

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat; Statistics Canada

Commitment 4: Provide and Preserve Open Information

The Government of Canada will establish government-wide initiatives, platforms, and tools to ensure that open information is discoverable and accessible for use by future generations.

Why do this:

Canada has made significant progress on improving public access to government data under its last two Action Plans. By improving access to other forms of government information and ensuring preservation of this information, the Government of Canada can promote and maintain informed participation and sound decision-making.

How will it be done:

The Government of Canada will provide enhanced, centralized, one-stop access to digital content from departments and agencies across government. Guidance will be provided to ensure the ongoing preservation of this information through the application of consistent standards and practices for long-term preservation.

Milestones:
  • Enhance the Open Information Portal on open.canada.ca to improve access to digital publications made available by the federal government and develop a strategy to ensure the sustainability of access over time.
  • Develop and publish clear guidelines on the preservation and retention of digital content.
  • Increase Canadians’ access to records documenting the continuing memory of the Government of Canada.
  • Update Library and Archives Canada’s online archive of the Government of Canada’s web presence to ensure Canadians’ long-term access to federal web content.
  • Expand the implementation of the government-wide information technology solution for the effective management of federal records and documents (GCDOCS) as a foundation for improved transparency:
    • Roll out this common solution managed by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to 125,000 government workers across government departments by .
Lead Departments:

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat; Library and Archives Canada

Commitment 5: Define an Approach for Measuring Open Government Performance

The Government of Canada will integrate performance indicators for openness and transparency into a Performance Management Framework for Open Government.

Why do this:

Open government is a relatively new way of doing things, and there is no single, common, and agreed-upon methodology to measure progress on all aspects that are important to Canada. As Canada defines its goals, it will also have to define how it wants to measure them, identifying interim steps towards longer term objectives.

How will it be done:

Government departments and agencies are publishing their plans for releasing data and information. The government will measure the implementation of these plans to help assess progress on improving openness and transparency. Further analysis will be completed as part of the development of an overall Performance Management Framework for government-wide information management. Work will also be done to better measure progress on broad open government efforts.

Milestones:
  • Integrate key performance indicators related to openness and transparency as part of a Performance Framework for managing data and information government-wide.
  • Measure and report publically on annual departmental progress on implementation of the Directive on Open Government.
  • Work on developing a performance management framework and indicators that can better measure a wider breadth of Open Government efforts and outcomes.
Lead Department:

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Commitment 6: Develop Open Government Skills across the Federal Public Service

The Government of Canada will support a shift to greater transparency and engagement within the public service through Open Government learning material and opportunities for public servants.

Why do this:

Public servants in the Government of Canada must change how they design and deliver programs to support Canada’s commitments to transparency and public engagement. An openness mindset needs to be integrated into their day-to-day business activities. Open data, for example, is useful not only to those who regularly evaluate and use data to support financial, statistical, and socio-economic analysis, but also to non-data specialists working in policy, operational, and service delivery areas. Sharing and leveraging data and information across the government can help innovation flourish.

How will it be done:

Individuals working in departments across government will have access to learning material to build their skills and capabilities for using open data, open information, and open dialogue to support better operational and policy decisions. Furthermore, to boost the value of available open data to Canadians, public servants can be guided to understand how to set priorities for data or information publication, based on its potential value to users both inside and outside of government.

Milestones:
  • Provide enhanced information management learning opportunities and additional materials to raise public servants’ awareness and understanding of open government principles and practices, including:
    • Using open data and information to support policy analysis and development;
    • Sharing best practices in digital public engagement;
    • Setting priorities for the release of open data and information based on potential public impact and benefit; and
    • Implementing the Directive on Open Government.
  • Lead and/or participate in educational forums and workshops designed to further the understanding of how to increase government transparency and foster civic engagement.
Lead Departments:

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat; Canada School of Public Service

Commitment 7: Embed Transparency Requirements in the Federal Service Strategy

The Government of Canada will develop a new Clients-First Service Strategy that embeds requirements for openness and transparency in the delivery of government services.

Why do this:

Excellence in service delivery is at the core of citizens’ expectations for their governments. For a government to truly be open and accountable, it must deliver responsive services and be transparent on results.

How will it be done:

The government is developing a Service Strategy that will transform service design and delivery across the public service, putting clients at the centre.

Milestones:
  • Develop a Government of Canada Clients-First Service Strategy that aims to create a single online window for all government services.
  • Establish new performance standards and set up a mechanism to conduct rigorous assessments of the performance of key government services, and report findings publicly.
Lead Department:

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Commitment 8: Enhance Access to Culture & Heritage Collections

The Government of Canada will expand collaboration with its provincial, territorial, and municipal partners and key stakeholders to develop a searchable National Inventory of Cultural and Heritage Artefacts to improve access across museum collections.

Why do this:

An increasing proportion of Canadian Culture and Heritage artefacts is available in a digitized format. This opens new opportunities to expand the scope and reach of Canadian museums and the social and economic benefits they deliver to Canadians. Using Linked Open Data approaches, this initiative will link the collections across Canadian museums forming a National Inventory of Cultural and Heritage Artefacts.

How will it be done:

In 2015-16, the Canadian Heritage Information Network Program (CHIN) partnered with eight art museums across Canada to develop an approach to link the collections of each museum with each other, and to related external resources, based on industry best practices (e.g., Linked Open Data). This work demonstrates the feasibility of using Open Data approaches to link collections across museums and other memory organizations.

Building on these results, CHIN will develop and implement a multi-year business strategy to work with the Culture and Heritage community to grow the network of linked collections through the Canadian Culture and Heritage Linked Open Data Cloud.

Milestones:
  • Develop authorities and standards to guide the consistent implementation of this approach.
  • Enhance the ability to search and browse across museum collections.
  • Expand the network of museums participating in this initiative and the links to related external resources.
  • Host digital collections for museums that currently do not have a digital presence.
Lead Department:

Canadian Heritage

B. Fiscal Transparency

The Government of Canada is continuing to explore new approaches for increasing the transparency of departmental spending. Citizens want to be able to “follow the money” in order to better understand how their tax dollars are spent, and how government financial decisions are made. By proactively providing information on government spending in reusable formats, government will ensure that Canadians can better understand where their tax dollars are going and hold the government accountable for decisions on spending.

This starts with fundamental budget and spending information to understand how government is allocating funds and how those funds are actually used for programs and services. In some cases, this means opening up data and information on particular spending processes. Across budgets, estimates, contracts, grants, and contributions, the Government of Canada will strengthen transparency in its use and management of public funds. It will also be more transparent about the fiscal and economic information it collects, including information on Canadian corporations. Finally, the government will provide Canadians with the tools they need to visualize spending data and compare fiscal information across departments, between locations, and over time.

Commitment 9: Enhance Openness of Information on Government Spending and Procurement

The Government of Canada will increase the transparency of government spending and procurement to hold government accountable for public expenditures.

Why do this:

Canadians expect their government to implement effective and efficient programs and services, and to report transparently on whether they are meeting their intended goals. A clear understanding of what resources are being used by departments to deliver programs and services is fundamental to Parliament’s role of holding government accountable for delivering on its priorities. Information on planned spending and results for government activities is currently provided through mandatory departmental reports, including Reports on Plans and Priorities (RPPs) and Departmental Performance Reports (DPRs). As a result, understanding how well the government is doing as a whole, or in key areas of interest, is challenging because data is presented across multiple reports and information sources.

How will it be done:

As part of the government’s new Policy on Results, mandatory departmental reporting will be re-focused on each department’s long-term mandates as well as their immediate priorities. Related data from planned and actual activities will be available on a searchable online database that will provide quick and easy access to detailed information on government spending and people management. This data will be presented in a manner which will facilitate Canadians’ analysis and broader understanding of where government resources are being invested.

Milestones:
  • Release an interactive tool that will increase the granularity of data and information made available and enable Canadians to better understand federal departmental spending:
    • Expand the types of data, graphics, and analytics available including:
      • Planned and actual results;
      • Comparisons between historical and planned spending; and
      • Spending on specific components such as salaries, capital, transfer payments, etc.
    • Enable users to explore government spending of the most interest to them based on key data elements (e.g., target group, program type, priority area, etc.).
  • Pilot updating the buyandsell.gc.ca site to record the full details of contracts (in addition to awards), contract amendments, and the final termination of contracts.
  • Participate in a case study to share best practices from Public Service and Procurement Canada’s pilot of the Open Contracting Data Standard on BuyandSell.gc.ca.
Lead Department:

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat; Public Services and Procurement Canada

Commitment 10: Increase Transparency of Budget Data and Economic and Fiscal Analysis

The Government of Canada will provide access to the datasets used in the Federal Budget each year in near real time.

Why do this:

Each year, the Department of Finance Canada plans and prepares the federal government’s budget and analyzes economic and fiscal developments. This serves to provide policy advice on a wide range of economic issues of concern to the health of Canada’s economy. The datasets for federal budgets have been released publicly since 2015 but with a lag time of six to eight weeks given formatting, editing and translation requirements. Listings of briefing subjects prepared on a wide range of economic issues have only been made available to specific requestors through access to information requests.

How will it be done:

There is an opportunity to accelerate the preparation of the datasets used in the Budget. This would allow their publication in near real-time following the release of the Budget to facilitate analysis by citizens and Parliamentarians. There is also an opportunity to broaden public access to briefing subjects raised by the Department, to help advance understanding of the range of economic and fiscal topics being addressed to support a healthy economy.

Milestones:
  • Starting with Budget 2017, make all data from Budget charts and tables available in near real time to facilitate analysis by citizens and Parliamentarians.
  • Publish the listings of briefing note subjects prepared by Department of Finance officials on a regular basis to clarify the nature of policy and other issues raised to inform government decision-making.
Lead Department:

Department of Finance

Commitment 11: Increase Transparency of Grants and Contributions Funding

The Government of Canada will provide one-stop access to consistent, searchable data on grants and contributions (Gs&Cs) programs across the federal government.

Why do this:

Each year, the Government of Canada provides funding to support initiatives focussed on career development, employment, homelessness, seniors, youth, and others through its various grants and contributions programs. Disbursing these funds works to meet the objectives and goals of the government and ultimately helps to better serve Canadians. Proactive reporting on grants and contributions by departments is currently distributed, with limited capacity to search across government. Furthermore, data is currently only required for Gs&Cs with a funding amount in excess of $25,000. Data published across government is in non-standard formats, thus making it more difficult to share.

How will it be done:

Federal departments and agencies with the authority to deliver Gs&Cs funding are currently required to publicly disclose data on agreements in excess of $25,000 in order to foster greater transparency and openness. To further support the government’s commitment to transparency and openness, information on agreements less than $25,000 will now also be disclosed, and the consistency of the data published will be improved to allow for increased searchability.

Milestones:
  • Provide Canadians with centralized access to standardized information on grants and contributions funding that is proactively disclosed by federal departments via a common, searchable portal on open.canada.ca:
    • Establish a standardized, common template for federal departments to publish their data through the centralized portal;
    • Increase access to Gs&Cs information through a decrease to the required disclosure amount from $25,000 to $1;
    • Provide training to federal departments on how to upload their data; and
    • Ensure historical data previously disclosed by federal departments on grants and contributions funding is searchable via the central portal.
  • In consultation with internal and external stakeholders, expand the amount of information on grants and contributions funding disclosed by departments to align with international standards.
  • Pilot an approach to improving transparency in the delivery of grants and contributions by Canadian Heritage, including publication of:
    • An increased level of detail in the data proactively disclosed on individual grants and contributions awarded by the department;
    • Performance results against published service standards; and
    • Data on events and celebrations funded by the department.
Lead Departments:

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Canadian Heritage

Commitment 12: Improve Public Information on Canadian Corporations

The Government of Canada will provide searchable information on Canadian businesses that is held in business registries at the federal, provincial, and territorial level.

Why do this:

Currently, business identity information is distributed across jurisdictions in Canada, which poses access challenges for citizens and businesses alike. The federal, provincial, and territorial governments have agreed to collaborate on enhancing processes to reduce the burden on corporate registration and reporting and to provide streamlined access to corporate information through an online search. Making information about Canadian companies and organizations more accessible, discoverable, and usable, can ultimately improve corporate accountability.

How will it be done:

The federal government, Ontario, Québec, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, and British Columbia will collaborate on the development of an expandable and adaptable digital solution.

Milestones:
  • Launch a pilot project to provide citizens and business with online capacity to search existing federal and provincial (from Ontario, Québec, and Nova Scotia) business registries through a single search tool.
  • Develop a proof of concept and prototype of a digital solution for reducing burden in the areas of corporate search, registration, and reporting for Canadian businesses that is expandable to all registries across Canada in order to drive consistency in corporate data provided to the public by both federal and provincial governments.
Lead Department:

Innovation, Science, and Economic Development

C. Innovation, Prosperity, and Sustainable Development

The Government of Canada collects and stores a lot of data and information, from agricultural and geographical data, to the results of scientific research. This information can be used to spur innovation and fuel economic growth. The public has resources and ingenuity to take advantage of this information in ways that the government may not have considered. Making government data and information openly available to Canadians without restriction on reuse can generate opportunities for Canadians to improve their lives and their businesses, and contribute to the country’s economic growth.

Beyond releasing its open data and information, the Government of Canada will be building strategic partnerships with other governments at the provincial, territorial, and municipal level, to support the development of common standards and principles for open data and information. This will help ensure Canadians can access the information they need, regardless of which government holds it. Likewise, fostering strong communities of civil society, private sector, and academic organizations can help spur ideas. Developers and entrepreneurs in all sectors can reuse government data and information in new and innovative ways.

Finally, open data and information can also be a catalyst in our efforts to foster sustainable, social and economic progress and innovation around the world. For example, providing information on how resources are accessed and managed, can help attract investment, enhance the reputation of Canada’s extractives firms, strengthen international partnerships, and build trust. Open sharing of vital information on the part of both donors and recipients of international aid has the potential to multiply the effect of aid, as best practices are shared and lessons-learned are used to shape practical reforms.

Commitment 13: Increase the Availability and Usability of Geospatial Data

The Government of Canada will make more high-quality, authoritative, and useable geospatial data available in open formats to support better services to Canadians.

Why do this:

Over the last five years, federal departments have worked together to establish a single platform to collect and share geospatial data. This effort enables Canadians to more easily discover, view, and understand geospatial data. Building on this strong foundation, the focus in the coming years will be to increase the quality and usability of geospatial data to derive additional information, solve problems, help with context setting, and assist with evidence-based decision-making.

How it will be done:

The geospatial data collection will be expanded, and the technologies to access that data will be improved, thereby fundamentally changing the way geospatial assets can be accessed and used by government and the public. The single window to federal geospatial data, open maps, will support progress towards a modern, networked, and tech-enabled society. It will ensure effective program delivery, improve services to Canadians, and support them in their day-to-day activities.

Milestones:
  • Improve access to open geospatial data through the expansion of open maps:
    • Increase the number of federal geospatial datasets available through a single window enabling Canadians to more easily find relevant geospatial data that can be mapped and visualized;
    • Provide access to satellite imagery through an open licence; and
    • Work with researchers, data enthusiasts, and developers who use geospatial data to share their work through the open maps gallery.
  • Develop geospatial data and web service standards:
    • Increase the quality and standardization of critical geospatial data assets through strategic investments;
    • Implement a management and investment framework for high value federal geospatial data assets; and
    • Participate in geospatial standards bodies to ensure that Canada's data continues to be accessible and interoperable nationally and internationally.
  • Develop Geospatial Applications:
    • Build mobile applications to disseminate key information to Canadians in an interactive format, which makes complex and large amounts of information easy to understand;
    • Provide targeted applications, which use open geospatial data to address the policy priorities of government; and
    • Provide the ability for Canadians to share data they collect through standardized tools.
Lead Department:

Natural Resources Canada

Commitment 14: Increase Openness of Federal Science Activities (Open Science)

The Government of Canada will take appropriate steps to make the science performed in support of Government of Canada programs and decision-making open and transparent to Canadians.

Why do this:

The Government of Canada undertakes a wide range of scientific activities, making significant investments in scientific research and knowledge creation that are essential for informing policy choices or decision making, providing services to Canadians, and ultimately supporting sustainable economic growth. At the same time, the government highlighted its commitment to ensuring that government science is fully available to the public, consistent with its broader pledge for openness and transparency.

How will it be done:

Horizontal implementation of the federal open science initiative began in 2012. Under the new plan, the Government of Canada wants to build on past work by taking bold steps to make government-funded science open and transparent to Canadians. Reflecting the importance of citizen engagement and collaboration, deliverables will focus on increasing the accessibility of government science, helping to ensure Canadians are informed of opportunities to engage in federal science and technology (S&T) activities, and exploring ways to enhance the impact of government data and information.

Underscoring the government's commitment to open science at the recent meeting of G7 Science and Technology Ministers, Canada supported a recommendation to establish an international working group on open science. This group would focus on sharing open science policies, exploring supportive incentive structures, and identifying good practices for promoting increased access to the results of publicly funded research, including scientific data and publications.

Milestones:
Science-based Departments and Agencies
  • Create a Chief Science Officer mandated to ensure that government science is fully available to the public, that scientists are able to speak freely about their work, and that scientific analyses are considered when the government makes decisions.  
  • Increase the public availability of data and publications produced from federal Science and Technology (S&T) activities.
  • Increase engagement with Canadians on federal S&T activities, including, as appropriate:
    • Enhanced communication of scientific participation opportunities in support of federal S&T activities; and
    • Targeted consultations on best practices for increasing the impact of federal S&T activities.
  • Develop metrics to track collective federal progress on open science activities.
Granting Councils and Grants and Contributions
  • Develop and implement an open access policy for scientific research funded through grants and contributions.
  • Work toward the development of policies on digital data management for research funded through the Granting Councils.
Lead Departments:

Environment and Climate Change Canada; Innovation, Science, and Economic Development

Commitment 15: Stimulate Innovation through Canada’s Open Data Exchange (ODX)

The Government of Canada will partner with the private sector to better understand how companies are using open data, and raise awareness of the possibilities that exist for Canadian entrepreneurs to take advantage of the value of open data.

Why do this:

As governments at all levels continue to make more and more open data available to the public, it will be important to help support the private sector in extracting knowledge and value from that data to build their businesses. In order to develop new products, retain talent, and achieve prosperity, competitiveness, and productivity for Canada, Canada's Open Data Exchange (ODX) was established in 2015 as a partnership among the private, public, and academic sectors to support the commercialization of open data by Canadian companies.

How will it be done:

The ODX will take advantage of key opportunities to work collaboratively with stakeholders at all levels to increase the number of open data companies in Canada and to explore new methods for improving access and extracting value from open data.

Milestones:
  • Complete a comprehensive mapping of 150 Canadian companies that are using open data to launch new products and services, create commercial and non-profit ventures, optimize their business processes, conduct research, and/or make data-driven decisions.
  • Launch an online platform at www.opendata500.com/ca to showcase Canada's Open Data 150.
  • Establish a national network of open data users within industry to collaborate on the development of standards and practices in support of data commercialization.
  • Collaborate with private industry on three demonstration projects to illustrate the commercialization potential of open data in priority sectors.
  • Incubate 15 new data-driven companies by .
Lead Department:

Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev) in collaboration with Canada's Open Data Exchange (ODX)

Commitment 16: Align Open Data across Canada (Open Data Canada)

The Government of Canada will expand collaboration with provincial, territorial, and municipal partners on further standardizing and harmonizing the delivery of open government data across jurisdictions.

Why do this:

Across Canada, different governments at the federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal levels have varying levels of open data implementation. While some governments have launched open data portals and made numerous datasets available, others do not have official open data or open government policies or initiatives. Furthermore, governments set priorities for different types of data for release, which may make it difficult for Canadians to compare data across jurisdictions. Each government may also measure and record data differently, which can make it difficult to compare data even when that data is open. The true value of open data can really be unlocked when similar, high-value data is released using consistent, standardized approaches, so that Canadians can easily compare data among departments, across geographic locations, and over time.

How will it be done:

The Government of Canada has made preliminary progress with its counterparts at the provincial/territorial level on the development of common open data principles, common licencing, and promotion of the reuse of open data. Moving forward, the Government of Canada will work with other levels of government to expand collaboration across jurisdictions and to develop a list of high-value datasets that are priorities for governments to release. This work will help increase the comprehensiveness of open data available to Canadians and encourage comparability of data across different governments. In addition, work will begin with one or more provincial partners to collaborate on a pilot project that will allow users to search data from multiple governments via a common portal. This pilot project will provide an opportunity to accelerate data standardization efforts and better understand the challenges and opportunities associated with federated search.

Milestones:
  • Foster the adoption of common open data principles that are consistent with the International Open Data Charter by all levels of government
  • Develop a list of high-value, priority datasets for release in collaboration with key jurisdictions to make it easier for Canadians to compare data across different governments.
  • Launch an online, federated, multi-jurisdictional open data search service in partnership with one or more provinces and territories to allow Canadians to search and access data from across jurisdictions, regardless of its origin.
  • Host a national Open Data Canada summit in 2017 to bring together federal, provincial/ territorial, and municipal officials to collaborate on setting a national agenda for aligning and improving the delivery of open data across the country.
Lead Department:

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Commitment 17: Implement the Extractives Sector Transparency Measures Act

The Government of Canada will implement the Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act (ESTMA) that requires the reporting of certain payments made to governments related to the commercial development of oil, gas, and minerals.

Why do this:

The Government of Canada remains committed to improving the transparency and accountability of the Canadian extractives sector. In its second Action Plan, legislation was introduced, the Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act (ESTMA), which established new reporting and transparency obligations for the Canadian extractive sector to contribute to global efforts against corruption in the extractive sector.

How will it be done:

Implementation of the ESTMA will help improve the transparency of payments made by extractive companies involved in the exploration and/or extraction of oil, gas, or minerals to all levels of government, both foreign and domestic.

Milestones:
  • Establish processes for reporting entities to publish their reports and create means for the public to access the reports.
  • Seek alignment of ESTMA with other jurisdictions.
Lead Department:

Natural Resources Canada

Commitment 18: Support Openness and Transparency Initiatives around the World

The Government of Canada will work with international partners to increase the transparency of international development funding, and to share skills and knowledge with developing countries to ensure that everyone can reap the benefits of open government.

Why do this:

To ensure that the global open government movement is not restricted to the wealthiest or most technologically advanced governments, it is important to ensure that Canada continues to support peer knowledge exchange and capacity-building efforts. Citizens of all nations can benefit both socially and economically from open government, regardless of who they are or where they live.

How will it be done:

Under Canada's first two Action Plans, steps were taken to ensure greater transparency and quality of Canada's international aid data. Canada worked with partners in the Open Data for Development (OD4D) network to build capacity around the world for ambitious open government initiatives to benefit citizens. By expanding these initiatives, and undertaking new leadership roles in support of the Open Government Partnership and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), Canada can help ensure citizens around the world have access to government information and opportunities to engage in public affairs. This will also facilitate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals.

Milestones:
  • Endorse the Open Government Partnership's Joint Declaration on Open Government for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (PDF, 36 KB), and leverage Canada's participation in the OGP to help support the declaration's commitments.
  • Leverage Canada's role as chair of the International Aid Transparency Initiative to support international good practices on aid transparency and greater interoperability among data standards (e.g., aid, public procurement, public accounts, corporate identifiers) to enable greater accountability and improve the effectiveness of development finance.
  • Provide training and peer-learning to at least 500 open data leaders in government and civil society in developing countries, provide technical assistance to at least 10 developing countries, increasing the quality and ambition of their open data policies, and assess how capacity-building activities affect communities.
  • Work with international organizations and partners in developing countries to implement innovative open data projects with impact on anti-corruption, local governance, health, and education.
  • In support of Canada's role as a partner in the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN):
    • Increase the amount of high-value, reusable agriculture and nutrition data made available to Canadians in open formats under the Government of Canada's open licence.
    • Participate in the planning of the GODAN Summit in in order to support the global agenda for opening agriculture and nutrition data around the world.
Lead Departments:

Global Affairs Canada, the International Development Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, and Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

D. Engaging Canadians and the World

Engaging in a dialogue with Canadians allows the government to tap in to a wealth of external experience, knowledge, and expertise to help find solutions to the challenges that governments and Canadians face together as a nation. If citizens understand why their government is taking a particular course of action — if they have been engaged from the start — if they have access to the same information the government has — they will have more confidence and trust in the outcomes and be better equipped to participate in their democracy. In practice, open dialogue enables citizens, experts, civil society organizations, stakeholders, and other interested parties to engage with the government in simultaneously identifying the problems and developing the solutions.

Earlier this year, the Government of Canada collaborated with stakeholders and partners in the public, private, and non-profit sectors on the development of a set of principles that can help governments improve the design of open dialogue initiatives. These principles will provide the foundation for federal public engagement efforts moving forward.

Canadians have valuable input to provide on their views and expectations for government. Civil society organizations can make an invaluable contribution to the development and implementation of open government initiatives. By leveraging modern technology, the government can help Canadians have a stronger voice in this policy development process.

This engagement between citizens and their government is a critical part of a broader global movement to make public institutions more open, transparent, accountable, and responsive to the citizens they serve. Canada is a leader, at home and abroad, in the global movement toward transparency and accountability. The Government can demonstrate this leadership by engaging stakeholders from around the world and brokering important conversations about how to capitalize on this global movement, and put in place the common, global principles, standards, skills, and capacities to ensure that the future is open.

Commitment 19: Engage Civil Society on Open Government

The Government of Canada will create ongoing mechanisms for strengthening dialogue with civil society in support of open government activities.

Why do this:

Collaboration among governments and civil society on open government reforms is a cornerstone of the Open Government Partnership model. As a result, member countries are required to establish a permanent mechanism for ongoing public dialogue in order to foster transparency and empower civil society organizations’ interaction on open government. Establishing a permanent forum for dialogue provides a formal structure for regular, two-way communication between government and civil society.

How will it be done:

Canada initially established a multi-stakeholder advisory panel to support development and implementation of Canada’s first two Action plans. Canada is committed to cultivating an effective relationship with civil society by designing and nurturing a renewed mechanism to support constructive, ongoing dialogue between government and non-government stakeholders. Led by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, this renewed mechanism will establish a strong link between government and civil society. It will engage regularly to track progress on Canada’s commitments, identify potential new areas of focus, and help raise awareness of open government issues across Canada.

Milestones:
  • Develop and maintain a renewed mechanism for ongoing, meaningful dialogue between the Government of Canada and civil society organizations on open government issues across the country.
  • Undertake targeted engagement activities to discuss open government issues in specific domains with key civil society stakeholders.
Lead Department:

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Commitment 20: Enable Open Dialogue and Open Policy Making

The Government of Canada will foster enhanced citizen participation through greater collaboration and co-creation with the public and stakeholders within and across government initiatives.

Why do this:

Public engagement through open dialogue and participatory processes is vital to the success of government. The Government of Canada recognizes that informed decision making requires the knowledge, views, values and skills of experts, stakeholders, and citizens to inform and shape effective government policies, programs, and services. Consultation provides participants an opportunity to state how an issue affects them, identify underlying values and contribute to shared outcomes.

How will it be done:

Through this open dialogue commitment, the government will engage citizens, stakeholders, and other governments, to participate in well-designed processes that create space for deliberation and collaboration of the participants involved. The Government of Canada will adopt common principles, clarify needs and implement tools and guidance to foster greater collaboration across traditional organizational boundaries.

Milestones:
  • Promote common principles for Open Dialogue and common practices across the Government of Canada to enable the use of new methods for consulting and engaging Canadians.
  • Identify necessary supports (e.g. skills development, resourcing, technological innovation) needed to deliver on the full potential of engaging with stakeholders.
  • Identify and support participatory processes undertaken by departments to share lessons learned and demonstrate the value of including stakeholders and members of the public throughout the policy, program or service design and implementation.
  • Develop, implement the measurement of, and promote indicators for open government to support benchmarking and continuous improvement.
Lead Departments:

Privy Council Office; Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Commitment 21: Promote Open Government Globally

The Government of Canada will work with international partners to promote the principles of open government around the world.

Why do this:

The Government is committed to working with international partners in government, civil society, private sector, and academia to support the principles of openness and transparency around the world. The world is witnessing a global transformation, fueled by citizens’ desire to better understand how their governments make decisions and develop policy. This global open government movement is essential to promoting the rule of law, reducing corruption, promoting public access to information, and developing effective and accountable institutions.

How will it be done:

Canada will undertake leadership roles in the global open government community, supporting the International Open Data Charter and the Open Government Partnership, and fostering new strategic partnerships through organizations like the International Organisation of La Francophonie. By working collaboratively with international partners to promote common, global principles of open government, Canada can cement its role as a world leader in openness and transparency.

Milestones:
  • Participate in key forums internationally to learn from other countries and share our challenges and successes.
  • Strengthen the capacity to deliver open data in Francophone Africa through support to locally-led, multi-stakeholder processes and international conferences.
  • Promote the principles of the International Open Data Charter, participate in the development of enabling resources and tools for the Charter, and support the development of the World Wide Web Foundation’s Open Data Barometer through the Open Data for Development (OD4D) network to measure the Charter’s implementation by governments around the world.
Lead Departments:

Global Affairs Canada; Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Commitment 22: Engage Canadians to Improve Key Canada Revenue Agency Services

The Government of Canada will undertake public consultations and engagement to support improved access to high-value, statistical tax data and publications, increased fairness of the rules governing charities' political activities, and better understanding of factors affecting the low rates of benefit uptake.

Why do this:

Service excellence is a top priority for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and the agency is committed to ensuring high-quality services are delivered to Canadians in a way that makes them feel respected and valued.

How will it be done:

Over the next two years, CRA will undertake a number of key public consultation and engagement activities to respond to key challenges:

  • CRA currently publishes open data in various categories both on its website and on Canada’s Open Data portal. A better understanding of the public’s satisfaction with, and interest in, statistical tax publications and related data, is needed to meet the growing demand for data that is of value to Canadians.
  • CRA has committed to providing more information on the regulation of charities to the public in a timely manner and to ensuring the engagement of the charitable sector in support of rules that are fair, open, and easily accessible and understood.
  • Each year a number of indigenous Canadians miss out on potential tax benefits. Through consultation, new data, and collaboration with other government departments and stakeholders CRA will seek to empower indigenous Canadians to obtain the tax benefits to which they are entitled.
Milestones:
  • Complete an online consultation with Canadians to measure public satisfaction with, and interest in, statistical tax publications and related data.
  • Engage with registered charities, the public, and other stakeholders in the charitable sector to help clarify rules governing charities’ political activities.
    • Conduct online and in-person consultations sessions on what information is needed, what form any future rules should take, and how best to communicate them to stakeholders and the general public.
  • Engage with indigenous Canadians to better understand the issues, root causes, and data gaps that may be preventing eligible individuals from accessing benefits.
Lead Department:

Canada Revenue Agency

V. Conclusion

An open government makes for a more effective one. A government engaged with its citizens is sharply focused on their needs. A government that is transparent is driven to achieve better results and held accountable for decisions.

The Government of Canada is committed to making real change happen – by doing different things, and doing things differently. Through implementation of Canada’s New Plan on Open Government over the next two years, the Government of Canada will work together with its partners to achieve real results for Canadians, including:

  • easy access to federal data and information, including data from across jurisdictions;
  • better understanding of key financial and budget data to help Canadians track how tax dollars are spent;
  • innovation and sustainable development unleashed by open data and information;
  • support for Canadians to fully interact with and participate in their democracy, building trust; and
  • Canadian democratic values reflected and promoted around the world.

The future is open – Canadians and the international community can be confident that Canada’s dedication to the principles of transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement espoused by the OGP is strong and will continue to grow over the coming years.

“Our plan for an open and accountable government will allow us to modernize how the Government of Canada works, so that it better reflects the values and expectations of Canadians. At its heart is a simple idea: open government is good government.”

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Appendix: Implementation Roadmap – Canada’s New Plan on Open Government 2016-2018

Commitment Status Involved OGP Grand Challenges
Open by Default

1 Enhance Access to Information

Enhance the ATI Act, informed by the views of Parliament, the Information Commissioner and consultations with Canadians, and then undertake a full review of the Act by no later than 2018.

New

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (working with Justice Canada and Privy Council Office)

Improving Public Services; Increasing Public Integrity

2 Streamline Requests for Personal Information

Make it easier for Canadians to access their own personal information held by the Government of Canada.

New

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Improving Public Services; Increasing Public Integrity

3 Expand and Improve Open Data

Increase the quality and visibility of Government of Canada data holdings. Set measurable targets for the release of open data over the next five years.

Continuing

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Statistics Canada

Improving Public Services; Increasing Public Integrity

4 Provide and Preserve Access to Information

Establish Government of Canada-wide platforms and tools to ensure that open information is discoverable and accessible for use by future generations.

Continuing

Library and Archives Canada, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Improving Public Services; Increasing Public Integrity

5 Define Approach for Measuring Open Government Performance

Integrate performance indicators for openness and transparency into a Performance Management Framework for Open Government.

New

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Improving Public Services

6 Develop Open Government Skills across the Federal Public Service

Support a shift to greater transparency and engagement within the public service through a series of open government learning opportunities.

New

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Canada School of Public Service

Improving Public Services

7 Embed Transparency Requirements in Federal Service Strategy

Develop a new ‘Clients First’ Service Strategy that embeds requirements for openness and transparency in the delivery of government services.

New

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Improving Public Services

8 Enhance Access to Culture and Heritage Collections

Expand collaboration with key stakeholders to develop a National Inventory of Cultural and Heritage Artefacts using open data.

New

Canadian Heritage

Improving Public Services
Fiscal Transparency

9 Enhance Openness of Information on Government Spending and Procurement

Increase the transparency of government spending and procurement to hold government accountable for public expenditures.

Continuing

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Public Services and Procurement Canada

Increasing Public Integrity; More Effectively Managing Public Resources; Increasing Corporate Accountability

10 Increase Transparency of Economic and Fiscal Data and Analysis

Provide access to the datasets used in the federal Budget each year in near real-time.

Continuing

Finance Canada

More Effectively Managing Public Resources

11 Increase Transparency of Grants and Contributions Funding (Gs&Cs)

Provide one-stop access to consistent, searchable data on Gs&Cs programs across the Government of Canada.

New

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Heritage Canada

More Effectively Managing Public Resources; Increasing Corporate Accountability

12 Improve Public Information on Canadian Corporations

Provide searchable information on Canadian businesses that is held in business registries at the federal, provincial, and territorial level.

New

Innovation, Science and Economic Development

More Effectively Managing Public Resources; Increasing Corporate Accountability
Innovation, Prosperity, and Sustainable Development

13 Increase the Availability and Usability of Geospatial Data

Open up more high-quality, authoritative, and useable geospatial data.

New

Natural Resources Canada

Improving Public Services

14 Open Science

Take steps to make the science performed in support of GC programs and decision-making open and transparent to Canadians.

Continuing

Environment and Climate Change , Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Improving Public Services

15 Canada’s Open Data Exchange (ODX)

Partner with the private sector to promote the value of open data and to understand how companies use it.

Continuing

Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario  in collaboration with Open Data Exchange

Improving Public Services

16 Open Data Canada

Expand collaboration with provinces, territories and municipal partners on standardizing and harmonizing the delivery of open government data across Canada.

Continuing

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Improving Public Services; Increasing Public Integrity

17 Transparency in Extractives

Implement reporting requirements for extractives companies making payments to governments.

Continuing

Natural Resources Canada

More Effectively Managing Public Resources; Increasing Corporate Accountability

18 Support Openness and Transparency Initiatives around the World

Work with partners to increase the transparency of international development funding, share skills and knowledge.

Continuing

Global Affairs Canada, International Development Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Improving Public Services; Increasing Public Integrity
Engaging Canadians and the World

19 Engage Civil Society on Open Government

Create ongoing mechanisms for strengthening dialogue with civil society in support of open government activities.

Continuing

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Improving Public Services; Increasing Public Integrity

20 Enable Open Dialogue and Open Policy Making

Foster enhanced citizen participation through greater collaboration and co-creation with the public and stakeholders within and across government initiatives.

New

Privy Council Office, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Improving Public Services; Increasing Public Integrity; More Effectively Managing Public Resources

21 Promote Open Government Globally

Work with international partners to promote the principles of open government around the world.

Continuing

Global Affairs Canada, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Improving Public Services; Increasing Public Integrity

22 Engage Canadians to Improve Key Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Services

Undertake public consultations and engagement to support improved access to high-value, statistical tax data and publications, increased fairness of the rules governing charities’ political activities, and better understanding of factors affecting the low rates of benefit uptake.

New

Canada Revenue Agency

Improving Public Services; Increasing Public Integrity; More Effectively Managing Public Resources
Please note that comments are moderated. It may take some time for your comments to appear online. For more information, consult our rules of engagement.

User comments

There is much in the New Plan to commend - I'm especially interested to see the focus on 'open government skills' development for the public sector (#6); having a data literate public service is vital to the success of Canada's OGP commitments in the long run. However, on the theme of literacy, overt mention of developing a data literate citizenry is missing from the "Engaging Canadians and the World" section. Engaging civil society is an important goal, but I suspect this dialogue is not currently as inclusive and representative as it should be, owing to persistent digital divide issues.

Regarding the Open Data Canada commitment (#16), it would be great to see an emphasis on working more closely with municipal government, since this level of government plays a huge role in residents' day-to-day life experiences. (And in many cases, municipal government have smaller or non-existent budgets for open data portals and the like).

PWYP-Canada would like to commend the Government of Canada for developing a draft action plan, entitled “Canada’s New Plan on Open Government,” that is aspirational and which recognizes the need to engage citizens and focus not just on open data, but on accountability. In particular, PWYP-Canada is pleased to see a commitment to train 500 open data leaders around the world.

Unfortunately, that ambition did not translate into a strong commitment related to extractive sector data. PWYP-Canada recommends that this commitment be strengthened to ensure companies report in open data format and to work with a multi-stakeholder group to produce a report aggregating and communicating the data.. In relation to beneficial ownership transparency, PWYP-Canada was pleased to see a commitment that aims to improve the accessibility of public information about Canadian companies, which is a critical step in efforts to increase the transparency of beneficial ownership in Canada. However, this commitment is not situated within the context of anti-corruption, money laundering and tax evasion, nor does seek to increase the amount of public information about companies.To read PWYP-Canada's full response: http://pwyp.ca/images/PWYP_Canada_response_to_the_OGP_draft_Action_Plan.pdf

I think there should be two institutionalized open dataset release processes (not all datasets are equal):

1. An ongoing "Open by Default" process that deals with majority of datasets
2. An expedited "Priority" process that is assigned a ministerial sponsor, a deadline and an accelerated appeals process that deals with release opposition. Datasets would be entered into the Priority queue based on public demand (e-petition enabled), Public Service request or Ministerial discretion.

Without a separation of process, contentious datasets will never see the light of day.

I do like the commitments that are being made, but I also really like the principle based approach which the GDS in the UK has adopted, in particular the last point "10) Make things open: it makes things better" - https://www.gov.uk/design-principles#tenth

It is written in an informal, human readable approach which doesn't come naturally to many in government, but the message is clear. Share early & often with as many people inside & outside the organization as possible. Open Government is essentially about understanding abundance, rather than understanding scarcity. Government has a key role to spearhead innovation by finding new ways to share. This draft document demonstrates much of what is possible with an open by default approach.

What underlies the Government Digital Service's Design Principles is in many ways summarized by the last line:
"Much of what we’re doing is only possible because of open-source code and the generosity of the web design community. We should pay that back."

I don't think that it is critical in this document to be able to roll out a commitment point and road-map for implementation. I would like to see that and it is long over-due, however, I do think a simple paragraph to acknowledge the role of open-source in open government would be easily achievable. To not even have an aspiration mention of open-source adoption just sucks a lot of the wind out of an initiative that has so much potential.

I am happy to see that many of the submitted ideas are included in the plan and that, to my understanding, the top five recommendations from the last IRM report [1] have been integrated.

However, some popular ideas with potential for transformative impact were not included. I and others articulated the reasons for Canada to pursue beneficial ownership transparency [2], citing many prior consultations in which the same requests were made, and pointing to several occasions on which Canada committed to beneficial ownership transparency. Another popular idea is to release Postal Code Address Data [3]. I expect a satisfactory explanation for these exclusions from the plan in the What We Heard report.

With respect to Commitment 1: Enhance Access to Information, I’ve submitted comments as part of the separate consultation on that Act. For the rest of the plan, I have comments on eight commitments:

Commitment 2: Streamline Requests for Personal Information
Will personal information become more centralized or aggregated as a result? How will the government safeguard personal privacy?

Commitment 4: Provide and Preserve Open Information
How will the open information be licensed? Will it be under the Open Government Licence, or a new suite of licences?

Commitment 12: Improve Public Information on Canadian Corporations
First, the commitment should include a milestone to provide free public access to the bulk data of all participating provinces and territories, preferably under an Open Government Licence, like Canada already does for federal corporations [4]. Second, the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia presently charge fees to search companies. The commitment should state that the new single search tool will be at no charge. Government should not be “open” to only those who can afford it.

Commitment 16: Align Open Data across Canada (Open Data Canada)
First, identifying key datasets requires more robust consultation with data users – not just other jurisdictions – as Bernard Rudny and I describe more fully in the second point of our op-ed [5]. Second, all data catalogs participating in the open data search service should release their datasets’ metadata as its own dataset, like Canada already does [6]. Third, the national summit should invite non-government experts as both speakers and participants, as there is a great deal of relevant knowledge within the private and nonprofit sectors.

Commitment 17: Implement the Extractives Sector Transparency Measures Act
In my submission, “Next Steps for the Mandatory Reporting on Extractives” [7], I described the broad support for a centralized database of the mandatory reports and for a machine-readable reporting template. The commitment should include those details. ESTMA will only help “deter and detect corruption” – its purpose [8] – if it is easy to analyze those reports, and that means providing machine-readable, aggregated data. Otherwise, what we get is something like the web before hotel booking websites. Instead of a list of rooms that you can easily sort and filter by availability, location, price and amenities, you have to visit each hotel’s website, figure out its booking system, and manually build your own spreadsheet with the results to sort and filter. The same will be true of the reports and the data they contain unless they are aggregated and machine-readable.

Commitment 19: Engage Civil Society on Open Government
On behalf of the Canadian Open Government Civil Society Network, I submitted a specific proposal for a permanent dialogue mechanism [9]. I have written separately to follow-up on that proposal. The network is made up of over two dozen civil society organizations and counting, most of whom are active participants in OGP processes and government consultations. We look forward to continued conversations about what form the dialogue mechanism should take, and to feedback on our proposal.

In closing, I’d like to draw attention to others’ feedback that I don’t see reflected in the comments:
http://www.teresascassa.ca/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=219:new-action-plan-on-open-government-open-for-comment&Itemi...
https://eaves.ca/2016/06/20/canadas-draft-open-government-plan%e2%80%8a-%e2%80%8athe-promise-and-problems-reviewed/
http://poeticeconomics.blogspot.ca/2016/06/canadas-draft-new-action-plan-on-open.html
http://democracywatch.ca/20160623-federal-liberals-open-government-action-plan-fails/

[1] http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Canada%2014-15_PublicComment_Eng_1.pdf
[2] http://open.canada.ca/en/idea/beneficial-ownership-transparency
[3] http://open.canada.ca/en/idea/postal-codes-0
[4] http://open.canada.ca/data/en/dataset/0032ce54-c5dd-4b66-99a0-320a7b5e99f2
[5] http://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/march-2016/whats-needed-to-deliver-on-the-federal-governments-open-by-default-promise/
[6] http://open.canada.ca/data/en/dataset/c4c5c7f1-bfa6-4ff6-b4a0-c164cb2060f7
[7] http://open.canada.ca/en/idea/next-steps-mandatory-reporting-extractives
[8] http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/E-22.7/page-1.html
[9] http://open.canada.ca/en/idea/establish-multi-stakeholder-forum

I'd echo comments from others - that there needs to be more emphasis on standardizing the format of the data itself. It's sort of buried in the open data charter link (princple #4) that is provided: http://opendatacharter.net/principles/ - but this is the key to the data being open. If people can't work with it through standard data types, well known APIs or open source software it's not so helpful and at some point may be more expensive than simply collecting new data another way.

Also what is Canada's ongoing role in developing and improving these standards perpetually? I see in the document here that we are participating in the developing of the open data charter, but what does this mean? Will there be professorships and scholarships dedicated to supporting this? Will it be hired public servants developing this? Are we involved in the policy side, the technical side, both, other aspects?

This document looks like great progress, keep up the great work!

The “Open by Default” commitment is laudable but tempered by Section 12 of the Copyright Act (i.e., crown copyright) and related licensing language that restricts the use of government works. Furthermore, inconsistent interpretation of both Section 12 and existing licences by federal departments unnecessarily complicates the use of government works.

Please follow the lead of other countries by making government works accessible and open for reuse and redistribution (in the public domain, without restriction) at the point of creation. The Copyright Act is scheduled for review in 2017 and rewording Section 12 of the Copyright Act would help realize many of the commitments in this draft.

For more information about the antiquated and obstructionist nature of crown copyright in an open digital publishing environment, see:

Freund, Luanne and Elissa How. Quagmire of Crown Copyright: Implications for reuse of government information. Canadian Law Library Review. 40.4 (2015).
https://issuu.com/callacbd/docs/cllr_40_4_final.1

Wakaruk. Amanda. Canadian Crown Copyright Conundrum. Fair Dealing Week 2016 blog post. (February 2016). https://era.library.ualberta.ca/files/b2b88qc23g#.VtYEdlsrJaQ

Open by Default.

Clear definition of what Open by Default is. Especially what the exceptions are: there needs to be quantifiable criteria to being exempt from Open by Default. Also the statement "...authority to decline to process requests that are frivolous or vexatious..." is too vague, the Canadian public deserves clear guidance.

There does not seem to be a commitment to providing an appeal process to declined requests. An appeal process is a necessary part of any open and democratic process. Unilateral processes will not improve public trust of the access to information and open data commitments.

Merci au Gouvernement du Canada pour m'avoir permis de participer à la table ronde qui s'est déroulée à Montréal en mai 2016. J'ai le sentiment d'avoir participé pleinement à un Gouvernement Ouvert et que la démocratie parle.

Cette première ébauche semble être un très bon début. Il est essentiel que l'information soit vraiment facile d'accès pour tout un chacun. Il est aussi souhaitable que les citoyens sachent ce qu'est exactement un Gouvernement Ouvert.

Bonne continuité,

As a long time public servant I am very excited about the move to open up to Citizens. Commitment 20, in particular, strikes me as an essential ingredient to develop policies that are both accepted by the stakeholders and effective. Unfortunately, although this direction is being stressed nationally, the process whereby these over-arching policies/guidelines are being implemented within Departments follows the old process. Essentially guidance or internal policy is developed without any consultation with those who need to change the way they are doing things! In fact draft versions of implementation plans etc. are often under wraps until they get approved by TBS. Definitely no opportunity to comment nor even awareness of what is coming until a memo arrives stating... You must do 'x' this way now. Lot's of talk about changing the culture to being less risk adverse and more consultative and even a bit of a stick (must demonstrate a % of experimentation). It would be great if more proactive disclosure of successes and/or failures occurred.

Silos (between Departments, Branches and even Divisions) exist. I recognize that changing work practices takes time, yet information remains power within many departments. The hierarchical structure and approval process ensures that the pace of this change will remain painfully slow. For those of us who actively use the internal GCpedia and GCConnex systems there is lots of opportunity to engage, not a lot of opportunity for our 'brilliant' ideas to be incorporated into documents in development. Unfortunately, we may not know what is planned until after something is approved for release. I would like to see lots of kudos given to those departments who pilot Commitment 20 internally, and track and report their experiences using similar measures as are put in place nationally under OGAP3.

I am also encouraged by the call for open dialog. The consultation efforts thus far have been a great effort to build collaboration experiment with co-creation involving the public and other stakeholders.

I just wanted to note that GCpedia is based on the open-source tool MediaWiki and GCConnex is based on the open-source tool Elgg. I don't know that the GoC has contributed to either of these projects, but it has been an encouraging experiment in use of GPL code that goes back at least as far as 2008.

There are those who have been experimenting with and advocating for open-source tools and open standards within government for a very long time.

There’s a lot of positive measures in this plan. Clearly, there’s been a lot of careful thought and consideration and I applaud this. There are a few things that I am concerned about though. Broadly, it’s about the way access != openness. It’s not enough to simply put materials online, even if they have all sorts of linked open data goodness. There are two issues here.

1. accessing data is something that is not equitably available to all. Big data dumps require fast connections, or good internet plans, or good connectivity. In Canada, if you’re in a major urban area, you’re in luck. If you live in a more rural area, or a poorer area, or an area that is broadly speaking under-educated, you will not have any of these. Where I’m from, there’s a single telephone cable that connects everything (although in recent years a cell phone tower was built. But have you looked at the farce that is Canadian mobile data?)

2. accessing data so that it becomes useful depends on training. I struggle to make use of things like linked open data to good effect. Open Context for instance (an open archaeological data publishing platform, http://opencontext.org) provides example ‘api recipes‘ to show people what’s possible and how to actually accomplish something.

So my initial thought is this: without training and education (or funds to encourage same), open data becomes a public resource that only the private few can exploit successfully. Which makes things like the http://programminghistorian.org and the emergence of digital humanities programs at the undergraduate and graduate level at our universities all the more important, if the digital divide (and the riches being on the right side of it brings) is to be narrowed, if ‘open by default’ is to be for the common good.

Hi Shawn,

Our colleagues at Innovation, Science, and Economic Development are doing a lot of work on digital infrastructure and connectivity in Canada (and they’re currently consulting on Canada’s innovation agenda: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/062.nsf/eng/home), and we’ve shared your comments with them.

Thank you,

Kent on behalf of the Open Government team

ECCC, NRC, DFO (and other science-based departments) should release more data available online. Many historical observations, records and data collection are done by taxpayers' dollars and they should be available for public access rather than stored in internal database that the data are rarely utilized. Let the public decide how those newly released data to be used and let the academia choose how to incorporate these data into their research. The public and academia can't request access to these data if they don't even know that these data exist.

Hi Andrew,

Thank you for your comment. As part of the Directive on Open Government (http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=28108) departments are currently working on creating inventories of their data holdings. We expect that these inventories will be published later this year. The goal is for these inventories to help us prioritize the release of open data, moving us closer to a culture of “open by default” where federal government data is made open to Canadians as long as there are no security, privacy, or confidentiality concerns.

Thank you,

Kent on behalf of the Open Government team

As mentioned by others, this does not specifically address Software. Our firm was selected to participate on a committee for Open Source Software Architecture hosted by Shared Services (linked below). We would be interested in having these two GoC initiatives around Open Government factor each other, and ensure an OpenSource first policy. The Government of Canada needs to start engaging with the rest of the world around Open Source based initiative and policies.
How will this plan factor outcomes from the following industry engagement:
http://www.ssc-spc.gc.ca/pages/itir-triti/itir-triti-afac-271115-pres1-eng.html
http://www.ssc-spc.gc.ca/pages/itir-triti/frameworkcommittee-architecture2016-eng.html
http://www.ssc-spc.gc.ca/pages/itir-triti/pdf/AFAC-Open-Source-Software-Session-2-eng.pdf

Robin,

We appreciate you taking the time to share these comments. You may wish to check out our response to Mike Gifford's comment on open source above. We hope this addresses some of your concerns. We will continue to work with our partners in the Government of Canada to see if we can identify some open source initiatives that might respond to the comments we received in our consultation.

Once again, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

The Open Government Team

I'd like to generally endorse the suggestions on including Open Source as part of your Open Government Plan at http://open.canada.ca/en/Open_Source_Software. In addition, I'd recommend including the following:
1. Open Source software helps to provide transparency in terms of how the government is providing online services.
2. Improving use of open source in the Canadian government along the lines of the US IT procurement procedures would help to reduce wasted duplicate spending on the same software and improve free reuse (see https://opensource.com/government/16/4/draft-policy-federal-sourcing).
3. More articles on the relationship of open source and open government, with a strong focus on US policies and practices, can be found at https://opensource.com/government/15/12/best-of-government-2015.

Joe,

Thanks for these comments. You may be interested in checking out our response to Mike Gifford's comment on open source above. We hope this addresses some of the ideas you've shared. We will continue to work with our partners in the Government of Canada to see if we can identify some open source initiatives that might respond to the comments we received in our consultation.

The Open Government Team

The listed commitments suggest that the Government of Canada wishes to make its data and information resources available for the public good. Are the tools to access, explore and transform this data to also be open? That requires some commitment to open source software, which does not seem to be mentioned in the Draft Plan. Are we to have party where ice cream is free but the spoon vendors have a cartel to make rich profits?

The word "software" appears not once in this draft document. Yet a citizen's thoughtful recommendation in response the invitation to "Help shape Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government 2016–18" was to "Make code available for reuse across GoC & release to the public as Open Source Software". [1] That recommendation received a "thumbs-up" from 80 other people. Interestingly, I see that the website http://open.canada.ca is running on a free/libre/open source software stack: Linux, Apache/2.2.15, Drupal, PHP.[2] It seems so sad that, in the "Draft New Plan on Open Government" the team of authors disown Canada's most distinguished information theorist, Marshall McLuhan, a mere half century after he profoundly encouraged us all to pay more attention to the information medium, than to the content it carries.[3] That medium includes the physical systems, and I notice another citizen's recommendation was for "strategies, policies and tools to support and foster the pro-active release of government funded inventions openly and for free". That suggestion received "thumbs-up" from 36 other people. [4] But the "Draft New Plan" overlooks it.

I therefore invite the President of Treasury Board, who is leading this "Open Government" initiative, to host a panel discussion in 2017, a year that is not only the 150th Anniversary of Canada (1867), but also will be the 50th Anniversary of the publication of McLuhan's "The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects" (1967)[5], as well as the 25th Anniversary of the official formation date of the Internet Society (1992)[6]. The proposed topic for debate: "Be it resolved that when Canada's Open Government website runs on a free/libre/open source stack, McLuhan matters!"

[1] http://open.canada.ca/en/node/564601
[2] http://toolbar.netcraft.com/site_report?url=http://open.canada.ca
[3] http://individual.utoronto.ca/markfederman/article_mediumisthemessage.htm (This is an essay by Mark Federman, Chief Strategist at the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto.)
[4] http://open.canada.ca/en/idea/inventions-ouvertes-open-inventions
[5] https://archive.org/details/pdfy-vNiFct6b-L5ucJEa
[6] https://www.internetsociety.org/history

In keeping with McLuhan's basic idea - that it is not the thing, but the effects of the thing that govern the change in human and societal interactions - what it means to truly embrace open-source principles must be considered a context that is wider than that of software choices. A reluctance to acknowledge these principles signals some adherence to the traditional mindset of governments, namely, everything is secret unless there is a good reason for it not to be so. An open-source mentality takes that into reversal (in good McLuhan tetrad fashion): Everything should be open, shareable, and available for modification and improvement by the community at large (how to appropriately engage that community of citizens is a different, not to mention exceedingly complicated matter), unless there is a good reason for it not to be so.

Joseph and I are co-founders of a group called GOSLING which stands for "Getting Open Source Logic INto Government". The first draft had that as "Linux", and as a student of Lawrence Lessig's "Code: and other laws of cyberspace" I wanted us to think about and promote more of the Logic behind Open Source (Including: that software is a set of rules that govern our lives, that those rules should be transparent in a democratic society, and that these rules can be adopted and built upon upon by others without friction). I wanted us all to recognise that software choice is required but not sufficient, as well as understanding that the logic behind Open Source (open by default) applies to far more than software.

Democratic governments already openly collaborate across jurisdictions on public policy, and legal precedent in many jurisdictions are consulted by courts interpreting laws, My primary suggestion to the Canadian government is that similar or even greater level of transparency and collaboration should apply to government interactions with software code as with legal code.

As an earlier stage of the migration toward an open government I don't think the government needs to be as concerned about actively engaging citizens in this collaboration as much as removing the current barriers to citizens engaging amongst each other. There is value in greater government transparency (legal code, software code, other policy, and data used to make decisions) even if the flow of information is only one way from government to citizens. A future government can then make that flow of information bidirectional.

I also find it odd that software is not mentioned, but go far beyond simple usage of software (acquisition). Government policy is implemented in software, and just as a translation from English to French requires that both be available for accountability/transparency, any government policy implemented in software must equally be available.

As a reference I would add http://codev2.cc/

How software regulates our lives may be different than how court interpreted laws and other policies regulates our lives, but there are relationships. I simply don't believe it is possible to have an "open" government without understanding those relationships, and having a much more modern and robust understanding of what software is (Hint: It isn't a "product" like a building or stapler).

For further reference, I'm http://flora.ca

Joseph,

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. You may be interested in checking out our response to Mike Gifford's comment on open source above. We hope this addresses some of the concerns you raise. We will continue to work with our partners in the Government of Canada to see if we can identify some open source initiatives that might respond to the comments we received in our consultation.

Again, thanks for your feedback!
The Open Government Team

Re: Commitment #14 (Open Science)
The emphasis on increased access to the results of publicly funded research does not go far enough. Developing and implementing an "open access policy for scientific research funded through grants and contributions" only addresses publications, but there is a need for an open repository of the research data that creates the publications. As it stands, funding agencies like SSHRC and NSERC depend on grantees to disseminate their own research, but other countries, such as the UK (http://www.data-archive.ac.uk/) have been more proactive in establishing a collective repository for research and data. I recommend Open Data Canada's mandate be extended so that it can become a more powerful tool for innovation, a one-stop shop for both government *and* government-funded scientific and humanities research data and publications.

Good points. I am a researcher at a large Canadian University, and have been moving toward open science practices in my own lab and helping others do the same. In addition to focusing on availability of data, it is also important to focus on openly sharing information of the research process (i.e., how the results were obtained) during the research process. For example, pre-registering hypotheses when feasible, making study materials/procedures available, making data analytic plans available, and sharing the results of research regardless of study outcomes (i.e., not only publishing statistically significant results). I want to point attention toward the excellent resources available here: https://osf.io/jtcu9/. I was in attendance at this meeting (the meeting referred to in the link) where 100 leading scholars of Open Science in Psychology and related disciplines worked together in 9 breakout sessions to find solutions to many issues facing all academics in the transition to open science practices (e.g., improving teaching and training, improving research in individual labs, what journals and societies can do). A lot more is to come from this group in the near future.

Best.

Re: Commitment 4: Provide and Preserve Open Information

The preservation needs to extend beyond currently Open Information to all government information as information currently not open may need to be released via Access to Information or other access instrument.

A great vision, I really like this draft ! Awesome job !

A work in progress, : - ), life is a journey.

Can’t wait for it all to come together !

Under, “Commitment 4: Provide and Preserve Open Information”, I agree 100% with the concept of archival preservation.

“Develop and publish clear guidelines on the preservation and retention of digital content.”, and let the public know the guidelines, formats, file sizes, etc.

Yes, because I am trying to digitize my family heritage in pictures, stories and to see a federal professional “standard” that will preserve data for future generations is greatly appreciated.

I don’t want to start digitizing in one format (1200, 900, jpg, tiff, pdf) to find much later on that I should of...

Under,“Commitment 8: Enhance Access to Culture & Heritage Collections”, yes, link archival sources from one centralized site http://open.canada.ca/, open government !

“The Government of Canada will expand collaboration with its provincial, territorial, and municipal partners and key stakeholders to develop a searchable National Inventory of Cultural and Heritage Artefacts to improve access across museum collections.”

Yes !!!, I want to see, connect to, link to data with provincial, territorial, and municipal partners and key stakeholders, even local museums, linked through one centralized site http://open.canada.ca/, open government !

As a Métis, especially: https://gdins.org/metis-culture/, the Gabriel Dumont Institute (GDI), Archivist information at Diocese of Rupert’s Land – Anglican Centre, http://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/archives/, Archives of Manitoba...

And generally… local museums such as: Renfrew County Museum Network, http://www.renfrewcountymuseums.org/. ...

Is it possible for the federal government to have their own or link to genealogical family trees of individuals.

I use free FamilySearch, but I wouldn't mind if there was something like that in the cloud FROM and with the federal government !

A Canadian citizen could have a free account with federal government, upload/type in genealogical data base, photos, stories, … Available to public 100 years after death or along that line. Or currently share with family, friends…?

Under,“V. Conclusion, An open government makes for a more effective one. A government engaged with its citizens is sharply focused on their needs. A government that is transparent is driven to achieve better results and held accountable for decisions.”

Yes, but be somewhat flexible for government employees that are learning this new digital world, mistakes happen, as long as we learn from our mistakes, we become stronger and more valued employees and citizens.

Lots of training, work with Google, Microsoft, Apple,....

I don’t want fear or stress to be a part of the working environment.

There needs to be an open dialogue vertical and horizontal communication, among all levels of employees and ministries.

Not an “us versus them” paradigm, we all work for each other.

A minister can’t be afraid to ask for help from a lower level manager, and a receptionist can’t be afraid to double check something.

Get opinions, feedback from all levels, but the final decisions follow protocol.

As I always say: "As we paddle forward together, our voyage to our highest potential is only as fast as the last canoe." Author, John D. Hamilton, Métis.

: - )

Thank you, Merci beaucoup, Marsé.

Great Start. I often find the current open data is difficult to work with. Consistent data formats and APIs would be helpful. I would like to see some more work with technical folks who use the data to make business decisions.

Yeah, good point Gabriel
It is usually better to expose a service than copy data

How does the mapping of the New Plan on Open Government 2016-2018 tie into the online consultations? Both in this consultation as well as the previous one, the use of open-source software was popular in votes and also had a lot of people submitting related ideas. The omission within this draft document is very problematic. There is a lot of great stuff in here, but the culture and experience that underlies most of it is based in the practice of open-source software. If there is a reason why this idea is being discounted, it should be clearly stated.

http://open.canada.ca/en/consultations/help-shape-canadas-action-plan-open-government-2016-18

Thanks for your comment Mike.

Regarding the mapping of commitments in the plan against online and in person consultations, we will be publishing a full What We Heard report on this New Plan for Open Government. The What We Heard report will provide a summary of the comments and ideas we received in all phases of our consultation, as well as some information on how they were (or why they were not) incorporated into the plan. Expect to see this a few weeks after the final plan is published.

On the specific issue of open source, this is definitely something that we saw discussed frequently in our consultations.

At the moment, the Government of Canada uses both commercial and open source software in its IT solutions, and departments are free to choose software that best meets their business and technical requirements, except when solutions have been mandated on a whole of government basis. So, for example, our open government portal, open.canada.ca, uses open source software (CKAN).

Issues around open source are definitely being discussed and explored in the Government of Canada, but as we are still developing a roadmap to move forward on these issues, it would have been premature for us to include a specific commitment in this draft plan. We will continue to work with our partners in government to see if we can identify some milestones on open source.

Open Government Team

Thanks for this. It is useful to see a bit of the bigger picture.

Unfortunately, the GoC has been looking at this, but not giving it much attention for a great many years. I responded in 2009 to an RFI for No Charge Licensed Software. Other open-source firms did too. There was no clear improvement in government policy based on this feedback.

Most of the G7 is already way ahead on this issue. The UK & USA are really leading the pack, but Canada stands out as a modern country that just hasn't seemed to understand the advantages of collaboration.

Governments can and should continue to use both software where the intellectual property is either owned by a corporation, or that which is explicitly open. However, any government interested in an open agenda, saving money and encouraging innovation really needs to give a priority to open-source tools and approaches. This doesn't mean that if the right proprietary tool comes in that it isn't worth trading off some freedoms, but it should be a conscious choice.

The example I provided by the USA CIO is attempting to achieve a balance between commercial & open-source tools - https://sourcecode.cio.gov/

After almost 8 years working to modernize government, they have come a long ways in understanding and embracing the potential of the internet and value of open-source.

Yes, this website uses open-source as do applications like https://buyandsell.gc.ca which OpenConcept was involved in setting up. It also uses Drupal, and of course the Web Experience Toolkit which is one of the only instances of the GoC contributing back. This venture into GitHub and with open-source licensing even got the Government of Canada featured in Wired magazine:
http://www.wired.com/2013/01/wet/

Government departments have been using open-source software forever, particularly the science/research focused ones. Everyone is using open-source, that isn't the point. The point is to make it the preferred option, because it will encourage open thinking, reduce costs, and allow innovation. If you have two equal solutions, one of which does not come with a vendor lock-in can we not clearly state that the preference of the GoC will be open by default?

I do think that there are those in government who will need help in understanding open thinking and will need time to make the adjustments. Government procurement programs especially.

There is a lot of knowledge in the GoC about use of open-source. It just hasn’t filtered up to senior management.

It is not premature to make a commitment in this document to acknowledge that the GoC will be investigating best practices and will be proposing some mile-stones for adopting open-source software.

You must make sure the provinces have to make this their minimum standards also . You can not just say we recommend all the provinces to follow along . You must use the word must , make this their minimum. Thank You gthis is a great start .