A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Statscan to stop charging for data.

Embassy Magazine (recently) broke the story that all of Statistics Canada's online data will not only be made free, but released under the Government of Canada's Open Data License Agreement (updated and reviewed earlier this week) that allows for commercial re-use.

(T)here may be tougher news on the horizon for StatsCan. With every department required to have submitted proposal to cut their budgets by either 5% and 10%, and with StatsCan having already seen a number of its programs cut, there may be fewer resources in the organization to take advantage of the opportunity making its data open creates, or even just adjust to what has happened.........

The winners from this decision are of course, consumers of statscan's data. Indirectly, this includes all of us, since provincial and local governments are big consumers of statscan data and so now - assuming it is structured in such a manner - they will have easier (and cheaper) access to it..........

The first thing everybody will be waiting for is to see exactly what data gets shared, in what structure and to what detail.........

Therein lays the rub, announcements are all very fine but exactly what will be included and how long will it be until all data is available is something we must wait and see what happens. All to often both government and other users are basing their decisions on data that is anywhere from a few months old to 5 or 6 years old, we all know that statistical information on (for instance) family incomes from the 2006 census is utterly useless in todays economy. Given the governments failure to retain the mandatory portion of the long form census care must be taken to get too excited about free data that may be less than accurate due to poor input data.
All in all its a step in the right direction but we wonder how the reduction in revenue coupled with the across the board departmental cuts will impact their ability to collect and analyze data.

NOW how about data from all the other government departments being made freely available, particularly on where and how all out tax dollars are being spent AND access to documents requested through freedom of information requests being actually provided in a timely and open manner. Opening up access to Statscan data whist handicapping their ability to collect accurate data and making it ever more difficult to get information and data from other government departments may just be another one of those Harper regimes smoke screens. Time will tell!

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