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Open Data Canada (CA0031)



Action Plan: Canada, Second Action Plan, 2014-2016

Action Plan Cycle: 2014

Status: Inactive


Lead Institution: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Support Institution(s): Provinces, territories, and municipalities

Policy Areas

Access to Information, Local Commitments, Open Data

IRM Review

IRM Report: Canada End-of-Term Report 2014-2016, Canada Progress Report 2014-2015

Starred: Yes Starred

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i



The Government of Canada will work with provinces, territories, and municipalities to
break down barriers to integrated, pan-Canadian open data services through the
establishment of common principles, standards, and licensing across all levels of

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 2. Open Data (✪)

Commitment Text:

The Government of Canada will work with provinces, territories, and municipalities to break down barriers to integrated, pan-Canadian open data services through the establishment of common principles, standards, and licensing across all levels of government.

As announced at the OGP Annual Summit in October 2013, the pan-Canadian, Open Data Canada strategy will remove existing jurisdictional barriers to realizing the full potential of open data in Canada. By harmonizing and integrating the diverse range of open data activities happening at all levels of government across Canada, we will facilitate a 'no wrong door' approach to open government data, regardless of which government owns it.

This is a challenging prospect given that Canada is a decentralized federation in which government programs and services cut across multiple jurisdictions. Health, transportation, and agriculture are just a few examples of government activities that have municipal, provincial/territorial, and federal involvement.

Our consultations with citizens and civil society organizations have reinforced how important it is that users be able to combine data from multiple jurisdictions in spite of any challenges that stand in the way. Such challenges include data ownership, search and discovery barriers, licensing, cataloguing, and significant differences across jurisdictions with regard to capacity. As part of our commitment to open data in Canada, we will address these challenges head-on.

Work on these activities will be governed by a national Open Data Canada Steering Committee with representation from all levels of government. The end result will provide unprecedented access to comprehensive open data from across Canada to spur innovation, increase productivity, and ultimately improve the lives of Canadians.

Deliverables to be completed in 2014-16:

  • Establish common open data principles for adoption by governments across Canada.
  • Facilitate the adoption of a common or compatible open government licence by all Canadian governments to enable the release and reuse of open data and information.
  • Establish or identify common open data standards (e.g., metadata, data formats) that align with existing international standards for adoption by governments across Canada.
  • Develop a federated open data search service with provinces and municipalities to provide users with a 'no wrong door' approach to accessing open data, so that data can be easily found and downloaded regardless of which government open data portal is used.
  • Expand and deliver a national appathon event, the Canadian Open Data Experience (CODE), to promote access to, and reuse of, multi-jurisdictional data to develop new and innovative tools and services for Canadians.

Responsible institution: Treasury Board Secretariat

Supporting institution(s): Provinces, Territories and Municipalities

Start date: November 2014   End date: 30 June 2016

Editorial note: This is a starred commitment, because it is measurable, clearly relevant to OGP values as written, of transformative potential impact, and was substantially or completely implemented.

Commitment Aim:

The purpose of this commitment is to facilitate Canadians’ retrieval of data across various levels of government in Canada by developing a pan-Canadian open data service with common principles, standards, and licensing across all levels of government. The additional federated open data search service aims to provide users with a ‘no wrong door’ approach, so they can retrieve data easily regardless of which portal they use. The commitment also included access to and reuse of multi-jurisdictional data via an expansion of the Canadian Open Data Experience (CODE), part of Canada’s national appathon.  CODE 2015,  At the appathon event, participants were encouraged to “mash-up federal datasets as well as include provincial, territorial, and municipal data when building apps.” Prior to this commitment, the majority of municipalities, provinces, territories, and the federal government were using a range of open data standards, principles, and licenses - users had to know which level of government housed which data in order to retrieve what they were looking for.


Mid-term: Substantial

Fundamental work on this commitment took place in the first year, including a survey on best practices, challenges, and opportunities with provinces and territories, a metadata mapping exercise with five provinces (to be used as a foundation for drafting common standards), and published guidelines for implementing the Open Government Licence. The CODE appathon was completed - it took place from 20 – 22 February 2015. However, the federated open data search service was not established.

End of term: Substantial

The government considers the Open Data Charter announced in May 2015 the common data principles to be used for adoption by governments across Canada.  Open Data Charter,  As such, milestone 2.1 (establishment of common data principles) was completed. The government of Canada played a significant role in the development of the Charter.

Little changed with the common open government licence from the mid term progress report to the end of term report. Active open data provinces and some municipalities have adopted licences that are compatible with the Open Government Licence.  Open Government Across Canada,  However, more work remains to be done when it comes to providing support and guidance to jurisdictions considering adoption of a licencing regime compatible with the Open Government Licence.

No notable progress took place in the second year of the action plan cycle for the common open data standard and federated open data search service.

Expansion of the national appathon event was completed during the first year of the action plan cycle and is discussed at length in the mid term progress report.  Canada Progress Report 2014-2015:

Did it open government?

Access to information: Marginal

This commitment had a marginal effect on government openness. It resulted in some discussions and work between the federal government and other levels of government regarding common open data principles, licencing, standards, and search services. These are necessary and important steps forward, but work remains to be done for this commitment to be fully implemented.

Carried forward?

The third and fourth milestones have been carried forward to the third action plan under that document’s commitment 16: ‘Align Open Data Across Canada.’ The milestones under this commitment include:

  • 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.  Canada’s Third Biennial Plan to the Open Government Partnership 2016 – 2018,  


Open Government Partnership