ONN Data Policy Priorities
As nonprofits, we need to build policies and practices that help protect privacy while ensuring the right to be counted, and to use data to build effective programs and policy across the sector. We need access to high-quality, relevant, and current data on the nonprofit sector, including its labour force and its role in Ontario’s economy.
Our goal is to ensure that the data of the Ontario nonprofit sector is ethically used and appropriately leveraged to support learning and data-driven decision-making. We will continue to advocate for nonprofits to be engaged in the development of new legislation and policies affecting data and privacy.
Specifically, ONN advocates for effective policies in the following areas:
- Open data and administrative data-linking for effective programs and policy
- Macro-level data about the nonprofit sector
- Privacy legislation
Open data and administrative data-linking
Leveraging the value in existing data sets for more effective programs and policies:
Policy Statement: Governmental and non-governmental funders should support open data where appropriate and engage in administrative data-sharing arrangements that provide valuable information on programs and services, while respecting privacy. Ontario nonprofits and governments should work together to build on good practices that create confidential, ethical, and standardardized ways to share that data.
Disaggregated data (by gender, race, and disability, for example) must be prioritized to support better programming and outcomes for Black and other racialized communities, First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, rural areas, and other historically excluded groups. Sharing administrative data will create new opportunities for measuring program outcomes, providing more collaborative care, and supporting evidence-based policy.
Advocate to the Ontario government to:
- Work with the nonprofit sector to create a broad strategy to advance the possibilities of ethical administrative data sharing across provincially-funded ministries, leveraging the information gathered by nonprofits and meeting the need for disaggregated data (by race, gender, disability, and urban/rural, for example).
- Accelerate the publishing of open data on the Open Data Portal and develop a mechanism for nonprofits and the communities they serve to prioritize data sets for release.
Macro-level data about the nonprofit sector
Measuring the size, diversity, and impact of the nonprofit sector to better communicate its role in the economy and society
Policy statement: Federal and provincial governments should engage the nonprofit sector directly on the development of open-access administrative data on the nonprofit sector and its contributions to the economy and society. Governments should find more comprehensive ways beyond basic revenue measures of measuring the nonprofit sector’s contributions- and positive ripple effects.
Advocate to the federal and Ontario governments to:
- Collect and publish up-to-date and comprehensive data and research on the nonprofit sector, in Ontario and Canada-wide, via:
- Dedicated Statistics Canada studies of the nonprofit sector.
- Canada Revenue Agency administrative data, notably form T3010 for charities and T2/T1044 for nonprofits (open data).
- Provincial and federal grants/transfer payment agreement data (open data).
- Federal/provincial enterprise (business) registries (open data).
Ensuring nonprofit voices are reflected in the development of privacy legislation and frameworks for the ethical use of client, community, employee, and donor personal data
Policy statement: ONN supports, in principle, privacy legislation that would ensure an ethical approach to the treatment of personal information in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. The nonprofit sector must be part of shaping new privacy legislation. Legislation should ensure meaningful knowledge and consent mechanisms for the use of personal data by all sectors – public, private, and nonprofit. Legislation should ensure that technologies do not contribute to inequality.
Advocate to the Ontario government to:
- Engage nonprofits in developing legislation as stewards of personal data (employees, clients, donors, and volunteers) and as advocates for the rights and data ownership of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples, Black and racialized communities, and other groups affected by systemic oppression. Take into account their concerns about how data is currently used across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.
- Harmonize legislation with existing frameworks to which many nonprofits are already subject, particularly those that operate across Canada and/or in the healthcare field.
- Consider distinct regulations for public benefit nonprofits.
- Be mindful of imposing new administrative burdens during a fragile recovery.
- Support nonprofit sector education and specific, plain-language guidance for nonprofits, similar to that provided by the British Columbia Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.
- ONN’s DEAL (Data, Evidence-use, and Learning) Project: supporting the development of a data strategy for Ontario’s nonprofit sector
- Towards a Data Strategy for the Nonprofit Sector: a report providing greater context to help us think about how nonprofits as a sector can seize the opportunities that data offers
- Developing Big Data Analysis for Public Benefit: a blog post outlining how nonprofits can use government and sector data to tackle the challenges the sector face