Ontario Moves to Open Data by Default


Ontario, Canada is moving to an open data by default policy. The decision follows the completion of a province-wide open data directive draft period that included feedback from local citizens and entities. The Open Data Directive will take effect on April 1, 2016 and will apply to all Ontario ministries and provincial agencies requiring them to make data public, unless it is exempt for privacy, legal, confidentiality, security or commercially sensitive reasons.

Ontario was the first jurisdiction in Canada to consult on a draft open data directive. The province has developed a four-part plan aimed at creating a more open government.

Included in the directive are provisions to make data updates timely while ensuring that there is no personally sensitive information included that could be of value to adversaries. The province already has some 400 data sets available on its existing open data portal – that number is expected to increase as the full weight of the directive comes into force.

Still, it is taking some time to get all of the most requested data sets online. Only 7 of the 25 most requested data sets are online so far, although the province says it is working to add the others as soon as possible. The directive itself also only includes some but not all of the recommendations made by the Open Government Engagement Team. Notably missing is the recommended expansion of the Open Government Secretariat to reflect a comprehensive approach to digital strategy. The full slate of recommendations is available here.

The directive will be a binding document for all Ontario Public Service and provincial agencies. The full text of the directive is available here.