Align open data across Canada (Open Data Canada) - Commitment 16


  • RSS
  • Cite
Lead implementing department(s)
Treasury Board Secretariat
Reporting period

Mid-term (July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017)

Other actors involved: Provinces, territories, municipalities, and Indigenous Peoples

Commitment description

What is the public problem that the commitment will address?

Currently, Canadians cannot easily find, compare or reuse data across Canadian jurisdictions. 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.

What is the commitment?

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.

How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?

Collaborative efforts to implement open government at all levels of government began in 2012. Building on past pan-Canadian cooperation, the Government of Canada is working with other levels of government and key stakeholders to expand collaboration across jurisdictions and 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, it will work 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.

Relevance to OGP values

This commitment relates to the OGP values of transparency and public accountability.

Status update

Deliverables in Action Plan

  1. Foster the adoption of common open data principles that are consistent with the International Open Data Charter by all levels of government.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Expected result

Data and information from different levels of government will be easier for citizens to access and use.

Description of results

  1. Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat partnered with Open North (a not-for-profit organization) in the development of a Do-it-Yourself (DIY) Open Data Toolkit for Canadian municipalities. This toolkit is aimed at accelerating the implementation open data across Canada. The toolkit provides comprehensive guidelines and a step-by-step process to enable municipalities to initiate an open data program and adopt data principles aligned with the International Open Data Charter. A blog on the toolkit is available on as is the executive summary. The full toolkit is being prepared for publication on Its production was guided by an advisory committee consisting of fifteen Canadian municipalities, the federal government, and the International Open Data Charter group.

    The Open Data Charter principles provide a common foundation for open data activities across Canada, promoting more open, accessible, comparable and timely data for all Canadians. As such, implementing the Charter principles is a key activity of the Canadian Open Government Working Group, a collaborative forum made up of representatives from provincial and territorial governments, as well as the Government of Canada. A draft work plan is available on the group’s GCCollab site.

    Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, along with the Government of Ontario, City of Edmonton and Open North, delivered a panel session at the 2017 Canadian Open Data Summit to promote the adoption of the principles of the Open Data Charter (notable recent adopters of the Charter include the Government of Ontario and the City of Edmonton).

  2. A draft work plan to develop a list of high-value, priority datasets for release in collaboration with key jurisdictions has been agreed upon and is available on the group’s GCCollab site.
  3. A draft work plan on a cross-jurisdiction federated search service has been developed and discussed by the federal, provincial, territorial committee. The province of Alberta is leading this work in collaboration with other members of the Working Group.
  4. On the margins of the fourth Canadian Open Data Summit in Edmonton, Alberta, the Government of Canada hosted an in-person senior executive meeting of the Canadian Open Government Working Group on June 12. The meeting discussed six broad thematic areas of collaboration that form the basis of a 2017–2018 work plan and help align and strengthen open government across the country.

Next steps to June 2018

  1. Discussion and further development of the DIY Toolkit will be managed via a discussion group set up on GCCollab.

    As part of its work in the coming year, the Canada Open Government Working Group will work with Canadian jurisdictions to support adoption of the principles of the Charter, and to develop resources that promote effective implementation of open data initiatives. Immediate next steps include validating the current state of the adoption of the Open Data Charter across Canada, creating a shared space for collecting resources and sharing actions taken toward the adoption of the Charter as well as monitoring commitments across jurisdictions.

  2. Through the Canadian Open Government Working Group, the provinces of Quebec (Treasury Board) and Nova Scotia will be leading work to develop a tool for identifying high value datasets during data prioritization process. This will foster the release of common core and other important datasets across all jurisdictions. Immediate next steps include the review of high value datasets identification criteria across Canadian governments, definition of generic and targeted criteria for identifying high-value datasets and identification of a select core of high value data that can be considered a priority for common release across jurisdictions. This deliverable is on track to complete progress by June 2018.
  3. The provinces of Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec have expressed an interest in being part of a pilot on federated search service with the Government of Canada. Immediate next steps include the development of a multi-party MOU, mapping of metadata and controlled vocabulary, gathering of functional specifications, creating of technical architecture as well as implementation and testing. This deliverable is currently on schedule; however, given the complexity of the pilot, including official language requirements, this deliverable is at risk of not being launched by June 2018.
  4. The pan-Canadian work plan will be finalized and made available in July 2017. The plan will lay out a set of deliverables that will further the alignment of open data and open government delivery across the country.

Completion level

  1. Substantial
  2. Limited
  3. Limited
  4. Completed
Date modified: