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Cover of Canadian Data Governance Standardization Roadmap

Canadian Data Governance Standardization Roadmap Released

July 5, 2021

The Standards Council of Canada last week published the Canadian Data Governance Standardization Roadmap, highlighting ways to coordinate the development and compatibility of data governance standards in Canada and create a level playing field in the digital economy.

Developed over the last two years by the Canadian Data Governance Standardization Collaborative with 220 experts, the roadmap describes the current and desired Canadian standardization landscape and makes 35 recommendations to address gaps and explore new areas where standards and conformity assessment are needed. The solutions identified in the roadmap will help ensure that Canada’s digital infrastructure is founded on quality, trust and ethics to fuel a competitive data-driven economy while protecting Canadians.

Executive Summary

In 2019, with the launch of Canada’s Digital Charter and its action plan, standards and conformity assessment were highlighted as vital tools for “encouraging development and implementation of new data governance mechanisms.” The Digital Charter states that “Canada has an opportunity to be proactive and take a leadership role in emerging areas in digital and data management, helping to establish benchmarks or global standards… . Allowing for internationally driven certifications and standardizations could bring some certainty to these disruptive markets and allow Canada to help shape global norms.

In November 2020, the government proposed the Digital Charter Implementation Action with the goal of building a national data strategy to “harness the economic benefits that can flow from data, while also mitigating the potential harms.” At the same time, Canada’s Industry Strategy Council shared its ambitious growth plan for building a digital, sustainable and innovative economy, highlighting the need for standards and conformity assessment (i.e., standardization) as key tools for Canada to become a digital and data-driven economy.

The Canadian Data Governance Standardization Collaborative (DGSC, also known as “the Collaborative”) was launched as a response to the Digital Charter to coordinate the development and compatibility of data governance standards and complementary conformity assessment programs in Canada, contributing to the digital and the datadriven economy. This Roadmap is the first product of the Collaborative, focused on the data value chain of data governance, describing the current and desired Canadian standardization landscape including recommendations to address gaps and new areas where Canada can be a standards setter and influencer internationally in the sphere of data governance/big data;

Three broad themes emerge from this Roadmap, based on 35 recommendations from the Collaborative, highlighting the imperative need for data governance standardization solutions that focus on both operative and strategic needs:

  1. Quality — establishing standardization solutions for systems and controls so that high-quality data can be achieved.
  2. Trust — building the foundation of trust through standardization to know that those using data are using it properly and respecting privacy, security and transparency regulations and frameworks.
  3. Ethics — Ensuring that AI machine learning tools are ethical and that explainability (can be explained in human terms) can be achieved and supported by standardization, systems and other forms of controls.

Standardization solutions will result in a higher quality of data and trust in access mechanisms, and ensure that tools being deployed are ethical, fair and lawful.

This report builds on the recommendations of the Digital Charter and puts standardization into action as a catalyst for change and a solution to pandemic recovery efforts. The Roadmap provides a framework to ensure that the conversations and interactions involving data among governments, Indigenous governments and organizations, industry, civil society, standardization bodies and Canadian citizens are meaningful, trustworthy and transparent.

Standardization is a tool that more traditional sectors are familiar with. Standardization is embedded in our building codes and regulations and are seamlessly used to build our infrastructure in a manner that keeps us safe without having to think about “why” we feel safe. We are now in an era where people, organizations and communities are using or interacting with an intangible infrastructure (i.e., the Internet), yet rules governing, for instance, data privacy and safety are still in their infancy. Standardization, and all that it entails, adopts an approach that acknowledges the need for continuous change and improvement (of standards, of services, of products, etc.), and provides a holistic approach toward auditing and compliance as both strategic and operational data governance issues evolve.

This Roadmap sets the stage for a fulsome discussion about how to action the various components and elements that make up data governance in Canada through standardization. In addition to its broader policy implications, the Roadmap presents concrete recommendations to be implemented over the next five years to achieve the greatest impact while utilizing resources efficiently and effectively.

This Roadmap is your CALL TO ACTION:

  • For our government partners, this Roadmap will help you understand how participating in the development of standardization solutions will address public policy needs, including incorporation by reference in regulation, and using national conformity assessment schemes to support internal and external trade agreements;
  • For our standardization partners, this Roadmap will support the development of new and needed standardization solutions; issues presented in the Roadmap have been scoped to begin or continue with the development of standardization solutions that can help close identified gaps, and position Canada as a leader in the development of new national and international standards and conformity assessment schemes for data governance;
  • For our private-sector partners, this Roadmap can cultivate an understanding of how standardization tools can help industry access new markets, scale up and be first to market, comply with emerging regulations, and provide guidance on how to navigate the standardization system, especially for SMEs with limited resources;
  • For our partners from civil society organizations, this Roadmap highlights the need for stronger data governance in civil society and to lead by example by demonstrating “an alternative to the current model of unchecked, large-scale data exploitation by many big technology companies.”3
  • For Canadian citizens, this Roadmap will help you understand how standardization, a tool that is already seamlessly incorporated in your day-to-day life, will help build a safer and more secure digital infrastructure founded on quality, trust and ethics as more and more services and transactions go online and we continue to build digital infrastructures that support the health and safety of Canadians.

Lastly, and this is the value and foundation of the Collaborative, none of this work can move forward without partnerships among all stakeholders. For Canada and Canadians to benefit from a digital and data-driven economy, standardization tools will be a catalyst to:

  • take advantage of private/public/civil-societysector digital solutions to improve the quality of, streamline and modernize Canada’s data infrastructure;
  • promote the sharing of data among multiple stakeholders from different sectors and produced by private/public/civil-society-sector organizations on trusted data platforms or portals; and
  • increase data owners’ control and decision power over the ethical sharing and use of their data to address common policy challenges.

If you need more information on how to use this Roadmap or how to get involved, please contact the Standards Council of Canada at

(Via Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada)

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