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Minister Clement Launches Next Generation Open Data Portal

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Jun 18, 2013) - The Honourable Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board, today launched the Government of Canada's much-anticipated next-generation Open Data portal, data.gc.ca, providing unprecedented access to government data and information and demonstrating Canada's international commitment to transparency and open government.

The next generation portal was unveiled as Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Canada's support for an international Open Data Charter of Principles while attending the G-8 Leaders Summit in Northern Ireland. The Charter commits Canada to the proactive release of more, high-quality, user-friendly data that is unrestricted in its use and re-use.

"Our Government is committed to the Open Data movement in Canada and around the world. Open Data is a global phenomenon that holds incredible opportunity to spur innovation and economic growth and improve the lives of everyday citizens," said Minister Clement. "I encourage all Canadians to explore the potential of this powerful 21st century resource."

The launch of data.gc.ca coincided with an event by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in Surrey, B.C., highlighting highly sought-after immigration data that underscores the innovative potential of technology and information.

In Toronto, Minister Clement was joined by Robert Herjavec, renowned Canadian entrepreneur and star of the Emmy nominated ABC show, Shark Tank, to showcase data.gc.ca's new interactive capabilities and Web 2.0 features. The site includes new targeted search capabilities and a Developers Corner, where Open Data developers can access specific technical information to assist them in creating user-friendly applications. As part of the launch, Minister Clement also announced plans for a National Open Data Challenge and Appathon using federal datasets, which will take place in the fall.

"The Government's commitment to unleashing the potential of Open Data and helping to drive innovation represents a unique opportunity for Canadian entrepreneurs," said Mr. Herjavec. "Data is a key strategic tool companies are now using to get ahead and succeed. The launch of this site opens the doors for innovative and creative thinkers to come up with all kinds of user-friendly applications."

A key feature of the next generation data.gc.ca site is the new Open Government Licence, which offers unrestricted re-use of government data and information. The new Licence is also being adopted by Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, making it easier for users to combine data from different levels of government to create richer, more contextualized information and applications.

Data.gc.ca contains datasets compiled by over 20 departments and agencies, covering a broad range of topics, from housing, to health and environmental data. People can explore local census or crime statistics, immigration and air quality data, coast-to-coast-to-coast mapping data, and much more.

"Open Data is Canada's new natural resource," said Minister Clement. "The possibilities for using this data are as infinite as our imaginations. I look forward to seeing what innovative and entrepreneurial Canadians are able to create with this newly accessible information."


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The new Open Data Portal, data.gc.ca, enables access to government data through one central location, providing a catalogue of datasets in one place, so that users do not have to go searching on multiple government websites.

The next-generation data.gc.ca is using the most recent Open Government Platform (OGPL). The Open Government Platform is a leading-edge collaborative open source software, which includes a number of interactive features, such as the ability to rate and comment on datasets, and a blog. Open Data users will also be pleased with the enhanced search functionality. Data.gc.ca offers new interactive capabilities that will make finding and using government data easier and more user-friendly.

The open source development of OGPL also allows Canada to benefit from the international community, and to contribute back to this community by sharing the software code for our improvements and alterations. Canada has made significant improvements to the code by applying its Web Experience Toolkit to the OGPL, which has helped make the Open Government Platform more accessible, mobile friendly and able to manage data in multiple languages (currently up to 33 languages).

The design of the new portal was guided by roundtable consultations that took place in five cities across Canada from March 2013 to May 2013. The Open Data community, including entrepreneurs and developers, participated in these sessions and shared their views on the features and content they felt would be key requirements for the portal. Their feedback was invaluable and helped guide the portal's transformation.

Data.gc.ca contains datasets compiled by over 20 departments and agencies, covering a broad range of topics, from housing, to health and environmental data. People can explore local census or crime statistics, immigration and air quality data, coast-to-coast-to-coast mapping data, and much more.

Open Data is Canada's new natural resource. The possibilities for using this data are as infinite as our imaginations. As more Canadians become aware of data.gc.ca, and download Government of Canada datasets, the potential to drive innovation, and spur economic growth increases. The Government of Canada anticipates that more Open Data users, including developers, academics and entrepreneurs, will make use of the new portal, see its potential for collaborative and transparent governance, and provide input for the continued addition of new and better datasets.

Open Government Partnership Commitments

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a global initiative launched in 2011 to secure concrete commitments from member countries to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. Currently there are approximately 56 countries that are members of the Open Government Partnership.

In April 2012, the President of the Treasury Board presented Canada's Action Plan on Open Government and officially joined the OGP. The Action Plan is a set of 12 concrete commitments that address the future of Open Data and information sharing, as well as citizen and stakeholder engagement.

Data.gc.ca is one of Canada's twelve commitments.

Open Government Licence

The new Open Government Licence provides for unrestricted commercial and non-commercial re-use of Government information and data.

Before the adoption of the new Licence, users were required to wade through lengthy legal language to understand what rights were granted to them. With the new Licence, the rights granted to users are clear, concise, and in plain language. Moreover, as the Licence is adopted by other Canadian jurisdictions, users will have one set of common conditions for the use and re-use of Canadian data from all levels of government.

The Open Government Licence is a key pillar to a pan-Canadian approach to Open Data. The provinces of Alberta, Ontario, and British Columbia are also adopting the Open Government Licence. Other jurisdictions and municipalities are encouraged to adopt the Licence. The Open Government Licence is one of the foundational commitments under Canada's Action Plan on Open Government.
June 18, 2013


The Government of Canada has made Open Government and Open Data activities a priority to promote innovation and growth. Canada joined the Open Government Partnership in 2012, and presented its Open Government Action Plan, which highlights several Open Data initiatives, and presents a comprehensive strategy with twelve concrete commitments.

The Government of Canada's efforts to foster greater openness and accountability, to strengthen the Democratic Reform agenda and to spur entrepreneurship and economic progress are part of the worldwide movement toward greater transparency in government.

This year, the G8 Summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, addressed Open Data and Open Government as key themes. Open Data drives innovation, economic opportunity, and deeper democratic engagement worldwide, while ensuring that governments are held accountable by their citizens.

Today, Canada plays a leadership role in the growing Open Data movement around the world. The G8 Summit provides an opportunity to build on Canada's work with partners, including the UK and the US, to develop common open data standards and tools, and to shape a shared agenda on open data within the G8 and the broader international community.

The launch of the Government of Canada's next-generation data.gc.ca (the Open Data Portal) and the new Open Government Licence are products of this kind of collaboration with partner countries, and are important contributions to international best practices on how to make data open and accessible.

The launch also coincides with today's endorsement of a common Open Data Charter by Canada and the other G8 member countries. The Charter commits Canada to implement five foundational open data principles and international best practices by the end of 2015.

The Open Data Charter commits G8 member countries to a set of norms and standards with the aim of making data more open and accessible.

These commitments will also allow the G8 to help forge common approaches for the comparability of key data among member countries and the international community.

The principles are:

  • Open Data by Default - foster expectations that government data be published openly;
  • Quantity and Quality - release quality, timely and well described open data;
  • Useable by All - release as much data in as many open formats as possible;
  • Releasing Data for Improved Governance - share expertise and be transparent about data collection, standards and publishing processes; and
  • Releasing Data for Innovation - consult with users and empower future generations of innovators.

The launch of the Government of Canada's next-generation data.gc.ca and the new Open Government Licence provide unprecedented access to re-use government data, and fulfills key principles of the G8 Open Data Charter.

Canada played an instrumental role in the development of the Charter and the principles are consistent with our Action Plan on Open Government.

The expansion of Open Government continues to be pursued through three main streams:

  • Open Data is about offering Government data in useful machine-readable formats to enable citizens, the private sector, and non-government organizations to leverage it in innovative and value-added ways.
  • Open Information is about proactively releasing information on government activities to Canadians on an ongoing basis. By proactively making government information available, it will be easier to find and more accessible for Canadians.
  • Open Dialogue is about giving Canadians a stronger say in government policies and priorities, and expanding engagement through Web 2.0 technologies.


Canada's commitment to Open Government is key to the federal government's efforts to foster greater openness and accountability. These efforts are intended to provide Canadians with more opportunities to learn about government and participate in the democratic process. By driving innovation and economic opportunities, and at the same time, creating a more cost effective, efficient and responsive government, Open Government will serve Canadians better.

In March 2011, the Government of Canada issued a statement outlining its commitment to expanding Open Government. It later released Canada's Action Plan on Open Government, outlining twelve concrete commitments along three streams:

  • Open Data, is about offering Government data in a more useful and machine- readable format to enable citizens, the private sector and non-government organizations to leverage it in innovative and value-added ways.
  • Open Information, is about proactively releasing information, including on Government activities, to Canadians on an ongoing basis. By proactively making Government information available, it will be easier to find and more accessible for Canadians.
  • Open Dialogue, is about giving Canadians a stronger say in Government policies and priorities, and expanding engagement through Web 2.0 technologies.

These three streams offer Canadians greater opportunities to learn about and participate in government, in the economy and in our democratic process.

How are we doing?

Open Data

Data.gc.ca, the Open Data portal is part of the Government of Canada's efforts to drive innovation and economic opportunities for all Canadians. With this site, application developers can re-purpose data for commercial, research or community purposes to benefit Canadians in a variety of ways. Open Data is also about letting Canadians explore our data sets to find information that is of value to them.

Publishing data online in useful machine-readable formats is a Government-wide commitment. To date, over 20 federal departments and agencies have posted data to the portal.

Another example of progress in Open Government is a new searchable Expenditure Database, which for the first time, provides easy access and analysis of all government spending. The tool gives Canadians a quick picture of how Canadian taxpayers' dollars are spent and allows Parliamentarians to better analyse government expenditures.

Open Information

Canada was one of the first countries to enact access to information legislation three decades ago. In 2006, the Government of Canada expanded coverage through the 2006 Federal Accountability Act. Canada has also led the way in proactively disclosing information about contracts, grants and contributions, and posting hospitality and travel expenses on the Web.

All institutions subject to the Access to Information Act are required to publish summaries of completed access to information (ATI) requests in both official languages on their websites. The new data.gc.ca will provide the ability to search summaries from a single location.

Additional improvements under Open Information include:

  • An ATIP Request and Buy Online pilot service which was launched on April 9, 2013 for several departments, including the Treasury Board Secretariat and Citizenship and Immigration Canada; and
  • Measures taken by Library and Archives Canada to open three million pages of previously restricted Government of Canada archived records.

Open Dialogue

Open Dialogue is about engaging Canadians and giving them a strong say in Government policies, programs and priorities. It empowers citizens by providing more opportunities to participate in the Government's decision making, the economy and the democratic process.

  • Progress has been made in this area through Open Regulation which provides Canadians and businesses with a more transparent and predictable federal regulatory system. For more information, see the Red Tape Reduction Action Plan.

All departments and agencies are expected to engage regularly with citizens, and will work diligently to ensure Canadians are aware of any opportunities to participate in consultation activities.