Open Data Policy

Type: Operational

Target audience: Public

1.0 Rationale

The Government of Ontario is committed to Open Data and Open Government and has drafted an Open Data directive for ministries and agencies.  As an Agency of the Ontario Government, OTF is required to follow this Open Data directive.

2.0 Purpose

To outline and ensure that OTF follows the requirements of the Open Data directive. The Open Data Guidebook should be used as an example of best practices to adopt.

3.0 Policy

  • OTF will provide to the Ontario government an up-to-date listing (‘Data Inventory’) of all of its datasets and databases. The Data Inventory:
    • identifies any dataset or database which cannot be made accessible to the public as well as the reason why (e.g., protected by legislation, contains personal information, security, contains data owned by third parties, etc.);
    • identifies the datasets to be released as open data.
  • Datasets are open by default, with exemptions for:
    • Data that is subject to statutory confidentiality requitements (i.e. FIPPA, PHIPA, Ant-Racism Act);
    • Data that should not be disclosed for legal, security, confidentiality, privacy, or commercial sensitivity reasons identified by expert assessors (i.e. legal counsel, IT security professionals).
  • OTF will publish its Data Inventory on its website.
  • All open data must be accurate, timely, openly accessible, interpretable, coherent, de-identified and released in accordance with the principles in the International Open Data Charter.
  • All open data will be released in open, machine-readable, vendor-neutral file formats as defined in the government’s Open Data Guidebook.
  • All open data will be released at no cost to the user and under the Ontario Open Government Licence.
  • No datasets released as open data will be deleted or removed from public access, except where a dataset was published in error.
  • When newer or modified versions are published, the old version of the dataset will remain publicly accessible in an archived format.
  • In situations where active maintenance and updating of a dataset is discontinued, the dataset description will be updated in the Data Inventory to reflect the “inactive” status, without restricting public access to the dataset.
  • Open data will be published in the language it was collected. This is an exemption in accordance with the French Language Services Act.
  • OTF promotes the use of open data under the guidance of Ontario Digital Service.

4.0 Definitions

Data: Facts, figures and statistics objectively mea­sured according to a standard or scale, such as frequency, volumes or occurrences Data management. For the purpose of this Policy, refers to the identification and tracking of datasets, metadata, and databases (not to be confused with general records management).

Dataset: A collection of data that uses a standard, machine-readable format.

Inventory: A complete list that describes the data holdings of a program area and their characteristics.

Machine-readable: Data (or metadata) which is in a format that can be understood and directly used by a computer. See Open Data Publishing Guidebook for a list of machine-readable file formats.

Metadata: A set of data that describes and gives information about other data (e.g., time of collection, update frequency, geographic coverage, etc.) or information (e.g., author, year of publication, number of pages, etc.).

Open Data: Data that is released to the public without charge in an open machine-readable vendor-neutral file format, under the Open Government Licence, through Ontario’s Open Data Catalogue. Open by default – Is a principle that says that Ministries and provincial agencies must adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure of public records unless there are specific reasons not to do so.

Open Data Guidebook: Refers to Ontario’s reference document maintained by the Treasury Board Secretariat. It contains open data technical standards and recommended data assessment processes. See

Open format: This is a set of specifications used to store and transmit digital data that is platform independent, machine-readable, and made available to the public without restrictions that would impede the re-use of that information.

Ontario Open Government Licence: A legal agreement that sets out the terms and conditions relating to Ontario’s open data. 

Personal information:  Defined by applicable legislation, such as the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Personal Health Information Protection Act, or Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Record: Any record or information however recorded, whether in print form, on film, by electronic means or otherwise as defined by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.