As a member of the Open Government Partnership, Canada releases National Action Plans on Open Government every two years. These plans set the direction for open government in Canada. The plans outline specific and concrete changes to advance transparency, integrity, accountability, and citizen participation across government. They are developed in collaboration with the people of Canada and in partnership with the Multi-stakeholder Forum (MSF). The MSF is a working group composed of civil society and government members who participate in the development and implementation of the National Action Plan.
The public consultations on Canada’s 2022-24 National Action Plan (NAP) on Open Government were designed to be broad, inclusive, and available through a variety of platforms. The public was involved in each phase of development, and their feedback was incorporated throughout the plan.
The Open Government team responsible for drafting the plan had to shift to a digital engagement process due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Given that in-person meetings were no longer possible, we moved our engagement activities online. In doing so, we had to be mindful of those who may not be able to participate online and make sure that their feedback could still be gathered and included.
We identified five themes for this plan, based on the online idea generation phase held in the fall of 2020 and conversations with the MSF:
- access to justice
- climate change and sustainable growth
- fiscal, financial, and corporate transparency
- disinformation and fair elections (later changed to “democracy and civic space” following the inclusion of Summit for Democracy commitments)
- open data for results
As we further consulted with the public on the five themes, three concepts consistently emerged:
- To ensure effective solutions, the Government of Canada (GC) must collaborate with provinces, territories and municipalities, and with external stakeholders such as academia, the non-profit sector, and the private sector.
- People want their government to meaningfully engage with them on policies and programs throughout the design and implementation processes, not only as a one-off or an afterthought.
- Participants requested that a diversity, inclusion, and equity lens be integrated into the design, implementation, and evaluation of all policies and programs, including through the 2022-24 National Action Plan commitments.
These concepts were included throughout the development of the plan and are reflected in the milestone activities under each of the five themes.
In this report, we will share what we heard for each of the themes during the consultations, and how we addressed this feedback. The full text of Canada’s 2022-24 National Action Plan on Open Government can be found on open.canada.ca as well as the Open Government Partnership website.
Theme 1: Climate change and sustainable growth
|What we heard||Government of Canada response|
|People in Canada are interested in accessing and understanding scientific knowledge and data, as well as decisions that impact the environment. There seemed to be a lack of awareness around available resources, suggesting a need to better communicate environmental science and data.||Natural Resources Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada committed to use the work of the Open Science and Data Platform and the Canadian Centre for Climate Services to make climate-related information easier for people to find and understand (NAP milestones 1.1 and 1.4).|
|There is an interest in open environmental data to track progress in the fight against climate change and protecting our biodiversity. The connection between environmental data and socioeconomics is important to understand the impact of climate change on vulnerable communities such as Indigenous Peoples, people with disabilities, lower-income and rural communities.||
Statistics Canada committed to linking energy consumption and GHG emissions data with economic data in the tourism, clean tech, natural resources, transportation, and agricultural sectors (NAP milestone 1.2).
The intersection of environmental data and social data has not been included in the 2022-24 National Action Plan. However, it has been noted as an idea to explore for the next National Action Plan.
Make environmental data easily discoverable and accessible, including climate impact data, carbon saturation and sequestration data, biodiversity data, agricultural landscape data, surface water data, the list of big polluters, and mitigation spending data. This will help the public to navigate the resources that exist.
Create an internal government point of contact to help civil society organizations navigate, locate and interpret government environmental data.
The Canadian Centre for Climate Services committed to respond to user enquiries as it relates to climate information and services (NAP milestone 1.4).
The Centre helps Canadians understand climate change by providing access to climate information, building local capacity and offering training and support. The Centre has a Support Desk that provides personalized support to understand climate information. This supports the request made during the consultation to create an internal government point of contact to help civil society interpret government environmental data.
|Access to journal articles on government-funded research is prohibitively expensive for non-academics. Government should further develop the open science model, including contribution and access to non-federal partners’ research.||
Environment and Climate Change Canada committed to design a new metric to track progress on the number of climate change science publications accessible in open access (NAP milestone 1.3).
The Open Science and Data Platform (OSDP) provides access to science, data, publications and information on cumulative effects of human activities across Canada. In the 2022-24 National Action Plan, OSDP committed to provide accessible science-based educational content.
Theme 2: Democracy and civic space
|What we heard||Government of Canada response|
|Provide individuals with the tools they need to identify compromised information on social media, during and outside of elections. Create plain language, accessible, targeted learning for different demographics. Partner with civil society to provide third party verification of information to support learning and education efforts.
Provide funding for and seek to amplify civil society organizations’ work on media and digital literacy to build trust in a broader “information ecosystem”.
Provide appropriate media and digital literacy training to local journalists, journalists from underrepresented groups, and social media influencers.
Build a community of practice between media, journalists, government, and civil society to debunk disinformation, disseminate consistent and authentic information and share good practices across sectors.
Canadian Heritage committed to the following (NAP milestone 2.1):
While not included in the 2022-24 National Action Plan, the Government of Canada is working on an intergovernmental response to protect democratic institutions, including enhancing citizen resilience, organizational readiness, combatting foreign interferences and ensuring accountability for social media platforms. The commitment on democracy and civic space in the National Action Plan includes additional milestones that resulted from the Summit for Democracy.
|Create clear, direct, simple, and branded communications to help individuals identify trusted sources of information around topics like elections, which would in turn increase awareness and trust towards institutions.||
Global Affairs committed to leverage its position as the 2022 Chair of the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance to engage international partners on the challenges created by disinformation, particularly those affecting marginalized and vulnerable groups (NAP milestone 2.1).
Global Affairs also committed to report publicly on foreign interference, including state sponsored disinformation (NAP milestone 2.2).
|Strengthen laws and policies to improve the transparency and accountability of social media platforms that are front and center in the spread of online disinformation. Allow for easier consent on these platforms (opt in, opt out), and impose repercussions for not removing or acting on disinformation.||Privy Council Office committed to implement the Declaration for Electoral Integrity Online to improve the flow of reliable and verifiable government information during elections. PCO will work with social media companies on the next version of the Declaration (NAP milestone 2.2).|
|Equitable access to Internet across Canada to ensure digital inclusion. The collection of disaggregated, location-based data on internet use and affordability at the national, provincial, municipal, and neighborhood levels. This would require reporting on where the infrastructure does and does not exist, as well as the speed and cost.||
The 2022-24 National Action Plan does not include a commitment on access to Internet data, as data on Internet access is currently collected by Statistics Canada and many datasets are available on the open government portal.
However, Global Affairs and the International Research Development Centre committed to advance digital inclusion at home and abroad through their position as the 2022 Chair of the Freedom Online Coalition and the financing of research projects that will generate knowledge that can be reused in Canada (NAP milestone 2.4).
Theme 3: Fiscal, financial, and corporate transparency
|What we heard||Government of Canada response|
Create a national publicly accessible registry with information on who benefits from the ownership of companies incorporated in Canada to counter money laundering and tax evasion. This registry should consult with stakeholders to validate the data, flag suspicious activities and strengthen enforcement.
Ensure the registry has high-level data requirements, verification, and validation protocols.
Data requirements include:
Penalties to motivate compliance with the registry, ranging from administrative penalties to criminal offenses (including prison sentences).
Consider adding a declaration in which a beneficial owner (and all designated persons) attest that the information provided is correct. The declaration is attached to sanctions, in case of false information.
|Innovation, Science and Economic Development, in partnership with Finance, committed to two milestones in the 2022-24 National Action Plan. Pursuant to the Budget 2022 commitment the Government of Canada will implement a public and searchable beneficial ownership registry by the end of 2023. The registry will cover federally regulated corporations and will be scalable to allow access to the beneficial ownership data held by provinces and territories that agree to participate in a national registry (NAP milestone 3.1).|
Continue to engage civil society, academia, and journalists on how to best implement a registry.
Consistency with provinces and territories is necessary. Most corporations are registered at the provincial level. A centralized portal accessible by competent domestic and foreign authorities, journalists, and transparency advocates is a key consideration.
Innovation, Science and Economic Development, in partnership with Finance, will continue discussions with provincial and territorial partners, especially in studying the technical and operational options for such a registry (NAP milestone 3.2).
The Government’s approach to beneficial ownership disclosures will be informed by stakeholders.
|Consider joining the Open Government Partnership Beneficial Ownership Leadership Group. This group is working with jurisdictions around the world who are implementing beneficial ownership registries.||
Canada’s public corporate beneficial ownership registry is still in development and at this time does not include the international principles required to be a member.
However, Canada will keep following this group’s work closely.
Manage how the government obtains technology and software and study the context in which the data from these technologies will be used. Public accountability measures included:
|Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat committed to release the details of applications used by the Government of Canada, subject to data availability, and to work towards developing policy instruments around the ethical use of information technology in the Government of Canada (NAP milestone 3.3).|
Theme 4: Justice
|What we heard||Government of Canada response|
There is a need for an intersectional approach to justice and policing.
Open disaggregated justice and policing related data to promote analysis, identify any possible biases, ensure accountability, and promote innovation.
Suggested data includes court caseloads, judicial officials, legal aid, prosecution, corrections, arbitration, incarceration, police workforce and services, police violence and profiling, etc.). Standardize data for all jurisdictions.
Justice Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) committed to collect and share data, including disaggregated data (NAP milestone 4.1). Justice Canada identified as one of their milestones the completion and sharing of findings of Qualitative Studies on LGBTQ2S+ populations, Black Canadians, persons with disabilities, immigrants and Indigenous peoples. Work is currently underway in this area.
The RCMP committed to the collection and release of high valued data related to various policing activities, workforce, and composition (NAP milestone 4.1). The RCMP releases annually the disclosure of police information, such as police intervention options, calls for service, and employee and diversity statistics. The newly established Open Government office at the RCMP will advance its commitment and work on high-value data collection and publication (NAP milestone 4.5).
|Marginalized communities (such as Black communities, First Nations, Métis, Inuit, refugees, women and girls, people with disabilities, and new Canadians) need to be able to access justice through legal aid, programs, tools, faster court systems, and plain language information. Engaging/consulting directly, specifically with underrepresented and marginalized communities, is key to ensuring their needs and challenges related to justice are reflected.||Justice Canada committed to advancing legal literacy and empowerment (NAP milestone 4.3) including:
The RCMP committed to establishing an RCMP Multi-Stakeholder forum comprised of, but not limited to, non-government organizations, academia, and underrepresented and marginalized communities to help engage in discussions around priorities and areas of focus (NAP milestone 4.5)
|Decisions made in courts and by administrative tribunals need to be made available to the public through the primary source rather than through third party suppliers. Federal tribunals should make raw data and information publicly available so that civil society can analyse it while respecting privacy requirements; a need for robust data points to use in empirical research.||Publication of courts and administrative tribunal decisions was not included in the 2022-24 National Action Plan, as the administration of justice, in most cases, is managed by provinces and territories. When decisions fall to federal jurisdiction, the Court or Tribunal to decide how they release their decisions.|
|Establish a public registry/inventory of algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) systems, as well as an independent oversight body for the AI. The list should include AI technologies used by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and other departments implicated in the justice system, for immigration and cross border systems, police services, and facial recognition technology. Create an independent oversight body for responsible use of artificial intelligence (AI) in government.||The Government of Canada is currently mapping new automated decision systems across the Government of Canada through the mandatory Algorithmic Impact Assessment and associated release of this information required by the Directive on Automated-Decision Making. The possibility of a public registry and strengthening governance for the use of these technologies within the mandate of the TBS will be considered as part of the fourth review of the directive, to take place after the third review currently underway.|
Theme 5: Open data for results
|What we heard||Government of Canada response|
|Improve the management of open data:
Attention should be put on data collection practices, standardization, and discoverability (e.g. federating open data with provinces, territories and municipalities).
The MSF recommended an approach for improving data management:
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat committed (NAP milestone 5.1) to developing a roadmap to:
The Government of Canada will also support the Global data barometer that will release a comparative analysis on data in more than 100 countries.
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat committed to the creation of a maturity model to enable departments to self-assess and report annually on progress (NAP milestone 5.2).
The recommended data management approach from the MSF will serve as a source of inspiration as we develop a data and information governance framework moving forward.
Integrate a diversity, inclusion, and equity lens into data collection (e.g. applying GBA Plus).
Use open data as a tool to reduce stigmatization, over-policing, bias in data and the reduced risk of data manipulation against certain demographics.
|Employment Social Development Canada, in partnership with Statistics Canada, committed to work on a Disaggregated Data Action Plan (NAP milestone 5.3).|
Identify data gaps pertaining to people with disabilities and how open data can contribute to reconciliation.
Define disability using the social model rather than the medical model. A focus should be put on typology and the gathering of data on collective residences and collective care facilities such as group homes, home care, respite care for people with disabilities, and children with disabilities.
Employment and Social Development Canada, in partnership with Statistics Canada, committed to collecting data through the 2022 Canadian Survey on Disability and releasing the results (NAP milestone 5.3).
They also committed to develop a new survey on children with disabilities and launch an Accessibility Statistics Data Hub (NAP milestone 5.3).
Support awareness and engagement on sensitive topics such as:
The MSF reminded the Government that data and statistics related to reconciliation would have to follow OCAP principles. The collection of new data needs to be done by, and for, First Nations, Metis and Inuit, and will require institutional and technical expertise, and financial support.
|Indigenous Services Canada committed to working in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples and internal and external stakeholders to create a data sharing policy that would facilitate data sharing with Indigenous governments and organizations and their partners. They will also address key data governance issues such as protecting the confidentiality of community-level information (NAP milestone 5.2).|
Proactively disclose information of interest to Canadians (i.e. analysis of access to information requests) and remove barriers to Access to Information (ATI) for all citizens (e.g. Crown copyrights, redactions, delays in receiving documents).
Increase access to subject-matter experts in government for journalists and researchers.
Centralized information hubs to increase the public’s ability to find the information without barriers.
Adherence of government Access to information processes and digital public services to accessibility standards.
|Work to make government information more available and accessible through proactive disclosure and a centralized information hub continues through the development of the Access to Information and Privacy Online Request Service. The open government portal also plays an important role in centralizing governmental information and data.|
Canada has submitted the 2022-24 National Action Plan to the Open Government Partnership, thanks to the hard work and dedication of everyone who participated in the consultations and helped develop the plan. The public tracker on open.canada.ca will be used to monitor our progress as we implement the actions outlined in the plan.
The public can continue to provide feedback on the 2022-24 National Action Plan through comments on open.canada.ca, on Twitter at @opengovcan, emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, the Multi-stakeholder Forum on Open Government, and any other preferred methods of communication.