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But the conclusions drawn by its authors, a librarian at Carleton University and an information-management consultant, are chilling. and, at the same time, create a more cost-effective, efficient and responsive government.” Rona Ambrose, the minister of health, announced a Transparency and Openness Framework that included a commitment to begin “transparently publishing drug safety reviews.” Those dependent on these data balk at such claims.

The situation has descended into farce: Library and Archives Canada (LAC), entrusted with preserving historic papers, books, photographs, paintings, film and artifacts, was so eroded by cuts that, a few years ago, author Jane Urquhart was unable to access her own papers, donated to LAC in the 1990s.

The result is a crisis in what Canadians know—and are allowed to know—about themselves.

Canada’s closed-data stance is taking root at the very moment “open data” and “knowledge economy” are global mantras. Food and Drug Administration launched open FDA to provide easy public access. “I do big-picture ecology, where we think across countries and continents.

The OECD and World Bank have led the charge for open-platform disclosures. But rapid scientific process stops at the Canadian border.” Detailed information about Canada isn’t available, says Kerr, noting that his American colleagues “make this data freely available.” Part of the problem is long-standing, he says, arising from “the difficult nature of federal-provincial relationships.” But “accessibility of data in Canada is becoming less, not more,” he says.

“Nothing comes up when I type my name into the search engine on [Environment Canada’s] website,” says Hoff, now a professor emeritus at the University of Maryland.

Also gone are internal reports on the oil sands experiments of the 1970s. Now, the people who need to protect Canada’s environment can’t get access.” Protecting Canadians’ access to data is why Sam-Chin Li, a government information librarian at the University of Toronto, worked late into the night with colleagues in February 2013, frantically trying to archive the federal Aboriginal Canada portal before it disappeared on Feb. The decision to kill the site, which had thousands of links to resources for Aboriginal people, had been announced quietly weeks before; the librarians had only days to train with web-harvesting software.

Economic considerations are cited routinely to justify cutbacks in collecting, analyzing and digitizing information.

A closer look at recent data erasure, however, suggests it runs counter to sound economic strategy.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada spokesman Patrick Girard said it isn’t a shutdown, explaining that the government was simply “moving toward a digital-service delivery model, while keeping all materials of business value.” But according to PIPSC, its members are losing vital data.