Mr. Speaker, the letter from which I was quoting came from the Treasury Board. The report itself is on open data. That is the letter on which I am commenting. I do believe it is completely 100% relevant and it is something that came up in the committee.
When we look at the study overview, it is important that we recognize that governments collect and produce a wealth of data. Increasingly, governments worldwide have started to implement open data strategies to launch open data portals to enable the release of data in open and reusable formats.
In this context, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates adopted the following motion, and it is important that we recognize this motion. It reads:
That the Committee undertake, consistent with Canada’s signing of the G8 Open Data Charter, a study to assess and enhance the government’s Open Data practices; that this study include examining how Canadian businesses can better obtain and utilize high-value information with strong economic potential from the government and reviewing the processes and practices of other governments with respect to their collection, storage and transfer of Open Data; and that the Committee use its findings to provide the government with direction and advice focused on improving the way this high-value data is collected, stored and transferred to Canadians, resulting in access to useful and useable Open Data that will drive economic growth as part of an information economy.
Before I was interrupted, I talked about the importance of data and how it is that governments, even from within the different departments, need to ensure that there is a higher sense of communication. That is, in essence, what I believe is part of the driving force in this. It is just recognizing the need to try as much as possible to bring together the different stakeholders.
The President of the Treasury Board has recognized the role that provincial entities have to play in this whole process, and we look to the Government of Canada to ultimately demonstrate leadership on the open data file. One of the best ways to demonstrate that leadership is to have the committee meet to talk about it. This committee was asked to go ahead and prepare a report. At that particular committee, the motion I just finished reading ultimately led to the report that we have before us today.
It is safe to say, even though I have sat through many committees, that at the end of the day, these committees play a very valuable and important role.
When we look at the committee in question that provided this particular report, it is important that the committee be allowed to continue to meet on a regular basis because of the type of content that it has to deal with. That is a principle that applies to all committees. They need to meet. We need to get back to work.
Over the course of this particular study in committee, eleven meetings were held. It took eleven meetings. The committee heard testimony from federal, provincial and municipal officials. I did not even talk about the municipal officials. That is a very important level of government.
When we talk about the collection of data and information, we often have to refer to what the Canadian government does, but also our provincial and municipal governments. Other industry representatives, academics and other stakeholders as well as witnesses from the United Kingdom and the United States, each discussed the open data initiatives in their respective countries.
We need to be working with different countries of the world in developing this. It is in Canada's best interest, not only from an economic point of view but from a social point of view, and even with the issue of ISIL and so forth. The need for us to be able to ensure that we move forward on this particular file is virtually endless.
The committee focused its study on users' needs in relation to the federal government's open data initiative, the best practices of other jurisdictions, and with respect to open data and the economic and social benefits associated with the use of open data.
I sat on the immigration committee, and I have had a good, thorough discussion regarding biometrics. I understand how important it is that Canada works with other countries in dealing with good solid policy on data. There, we were talking about biometrics. That committee has not met since June, but the point is that there was a point in time when the committee was meeting on a regular basis when we had the opportunity to talk about the issue of data.
Data does matter. I am looking at this report, and I am glad that the New Democrats have decided to call this report—