About the Open Data Directive

Ontario is committed to being the most open and transparent government in Canada. The new Open Data Directive maximizes access to government data by requiring all data to be made public on the Ontario Data Catalogue, unless it is exempt for legal, privacy, security, confidentiality or commercially-sensitive reasons. It is a binding document that sets out key principles and mandatory requirements for publishing open data, and applies to data created, collected and managed by Ontario ministries and provincial agencies.

Consultation on the draft Open Data Directive

Ontario’s Open Data Directive was developed in partnership with Ontarians. From May 1 to July 1, 2015, we consulted with the public on our draft Open Data Directive in a number of ways, including:

  • online, via our Google Doc, email and social media
  • through outreach to academia, policy makers, business leaders, non-profit and municipal partners, and
  • in-person at sessions through the GO Open Data Conference, the Open Data Conference and Civic Design Camp, and in partnership with community organizations like TechAlliance and Communitech


  • 3,000+ online views
  • 500 mentions on social media
  • 200 comments via our Google Doc and email
  • 150+ participants at in-person sessions

Feedback we received

Several common themes emerged from the ideas, comments and questions we received on our draft Open Data Directive, including:


Rigorous privacy protections could be put in place to ensure the protection of all personal information, while meeting the aims of the directive.


Accountability, purpose, goal, benefits and terms within the directive could be clarified to ensure consistency of interpretation.

Procurement and Contracts

Opening up access to the government procurement process and the disclosure of contracts, without compromising negotiations or negatively affecting business, could be further examined.

Resources and Tools

Government could make its Open Data Publishing Guidebook publicly available as resource material, and could prepare staff to support open data by ensuring the right resources, learning opportunities, technology and skills are in place.


Reasonable and phased transition periods for open data could minimize the impact on operational work, and specifying periods for data inventory updates could help prioritize work.


Monitoring compliance with the directive could help measure progress and help ensure the proactive release of data.

How feedback was used

All feedback was reviewed and assessed to help inform the final directive. Input from the public helped us make the directive clearer, better emphasize privacy, protect personal information and ensure compliance with requirements.
Summary of the revisions by section includes:


  • Emphasizing the vision of open data and the overall goal of the directive.
  • Referencing the Open Data Guidebook as a tool and resource to support implementation of the directive.


  • Clarifying the definition of data and information.
  • Moving exemptions from Purpose to the Mandatory Requirements section.
  • Emphasizing exemptions specified in the directive.

Application and Scope

  • Clarifying details of the directive’s scope.
  • Specifying that the directive is to be implemented in a manner that is consistent with existing legal obligations, restrictions and requirements, including legislation (e.g., the Personal Health Information Protection Act and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act).


  • Emphasizing privacy protection as a principle of the directive
  • Clarifying that personal information will not be released under the Open Government Licence.
  • Changing the title of the Open Government Licence to make it consistent with other references.

Mandatory Requirements – Data Inventory

  • Inserting exemptions from the original Purpose section into the start of this section.
  • Ensuring phrasing is consistent (e.g., all references to exemptions were modified).
  • Adding "legal" to the list of exemptions to incorporate legal privilege in all of its various forms, as well as situations where there are legal restrictions on releasing the data.
  • Changing the term ‘accountability’ to ‘custody and control’ to clarify what data or datasets ministries are responsible for.
  • Removing the reference to third-party ownership as an explanation of why data cannot be released
  • Removing the reference to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to avoid being redundant.

Mandatory Requirements – Open Data Publication

  • Changing the name of the ‘Open Data Catalogue’ to ‘Ontario Data Catalogue’, to include data which is not released as open data.
  • Reiterating the commitment to create a one-window portal for a list of all data.
  • Removing previously explained details of open data file format.
  • Improving definition of ministry responsibilities.
  • Emphasizing language concerning changes in custody and control of data.
  • Confirming commitment to keep historical data accessible.

Mandatory Requirements – Procurement and Contracts

  • Generalizing standards for details of contracts that should be released to the public.
  • Clarifying commercially sensitive data relative to financial data.
  • Clarifying "timely release" of contract details.

Mandatory Requirements – Reporting and Compliance

  • Creating a new Reporting and Compliance section.

Open Data Engagement

  • Developing an overview introduction for Open Data Engagement.


  • Revising the definition of provincial agencies to mirror the definition in the Agencies and Appointments Directive.
  • Clarifying definitions for consistency and clearness.
  • Removing the definition of ‘record’ since there is no mention of ‘record’ in the directive.


  • Clarifying responsibility of Deputy Heads with regards to new compliance measures.
  • Identifying responsibilities at all staff levels.

Appendix A – Ontario Open Government Licence

  • Providing explanation of the commonality of the Ontario license with other jurisdictions in Canada.

Appendix B – Examples of High-Value Data and Prioritization Guidelines

  • Adding "provincial agencies" to Criteria #1 to make it clear they are also responsible for prioritizing their data

Appendix C – Open Data Quality Principles

  • Replacing references to "statistical information" with "Data".

Appendix D – Sample of Data Published in Response to an Act

  • Correcting the name of the Act that enables the publication of Vital Statistics.

Read the final directive and view the tracked changes version of the directive to see what changed.

You can send us your questions or comments on open data, or talk to @ONgov on Twitter using the #openON hashtag.