In my 2013-2014 Annual Report I praised the government’s ambitious project Open Data Catalogue for being produced simultaneously in both French and English. Since then, a draft of the Open Data Directive was submitted online, along with updates on the consultation process which ended in July.
This Directive, which will apply to all Ontario government ministries and provincial agencies, is subject to all applicable legislation such as the Archives and Record Keeping Act, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and the French Language Services Act.
The draft Directive, which was published on the Open Data site during the consultation process states that “Open data is to be published in Ontario’s Open Data Catalogue in the language it was collected”. This statement caught my attention as it seems to absolve the government of the need to provide relevant information in French. That said the Directive goes on to outline that “the dataset title, description, and all accompanying information must be available simultaneously in both English and French.” The Open Data Catalogue website is available in both English and French; however; after just five minutes navigating the Open Data Catalogue, out of my own curiosity, the first document I came upon: OPS Common Service Standards 2013-2014 was available uniquely in English. The second document I came across was a simple table titled College Enrolment by Institutions 1996-97 to 2011-2012. None of the three columns in this table: Fiscal Year, College Name and Head Count were translated, nor was the tab or document title.
The Francophone community is currently focused on the need for better access to post-secondary education in French, and this data could be of interest to students, researchers and educators, all of whom should have equitable access to innovative technologies, such as this data catalogue, in French.
Recognising that the Open Data Catalogue is still a work in progress, it is my hope that, as the government reviews and assesses the feedback received during the consultation process, they develop a policy and process that will ensure compliance with the Directive, and the French Language Services Act, which will improve the public’s access to the government of Ontario’s initiative to proactively release data, making it a more transparent and open government.