Cannan: Better access to Alberta oil sands scientific data

Recently, the government announced two new online tools that will improve access to accurate and important government information.

The federal government has been working to provide Canadians with a more modern, cost effective and efficient federal government.

In fact, a significant part of that commitment is to improve accessibility through the use of improved online tools, just as most organizations representing the public and private sectors have been doing for the past few years.

Recently, the government announced two new online tools that will improve access to accurate and important government information.

One will enable better monitoring of government spending; the second will provide high quality scientific data so Canadians can monitor how well the government is meeting its commitment to protect the environment and ensure responsible resource development in Canada’s oil sands.

The Expenditures Database is a new searchable online database that, for the first time, provides easy access and analysis of all government spending, giving Canadians a quick picture of how taxpayer dollars are spent and allowing parliamentarians to better analyze government expenditures.

The database allows users to search for spending information that includes comparing the amount of funding that was authorized to what was actually spent, details on itemized government spending, and spending by program.

The online portal was one of the recommendations to come out of a report by the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.

As a member of this committee, along with my colleague Dan Albas, our committee was looking to strengthen parliamentary scrutiny of the estimates process and fulfill a commitment to parliamentarians for a more accessible financial reporting system.

Now parliamentarians and citizens can find information in one place that shows what every department is spending on a particular program.

The Expenditure Database is available online at the Treasury Board website www.tbs-sct.gc.ca.

The second database, made available this week by the Canadian and Alberta governments, is equally important.

The government is committed to balancing economic growth with sustainable development and nowhere is this more important than in the heart of Canada’s energy resource sector, the Alberta oil sands.

To ensure we are meeting our objectives, Canadians have asked the federal and provincial governments to provide them with effective environmental monitoring and data information.

Ottawa has listened and the information is now available through an online data portal at www.JointOilSandsMonitoring.ca.

The Joint Oil Sands Monitoring portal ensures that high quality scientific data is accessible to actively encourage informed discussions and analysis on the impacts of oil sands development.

Monitoring the impacts of oil sands activity over an area covering some 140,000 square kilometres, the information and data portal offers an overview of the monitoring process along with a map identifying specific water, air, land and biodiversity monitoring sites and allows users to see what is being monitored and the data that has been gathered for each site.

The information and data found on the joint portal will complement what can be found on Alberta’s Oil Sands Information Portal (www.osip.alberta.ca).

As new data is collected, analyzed and validated, it will be posted and be publicly accessible.

An open government is one that strives to be accountable to its citizens.

Utilizing online tools to provide easier access to accurate information will result in a better informed electorate and an even stronger government.

I hope constituents will take advantage of the information the government is providing through these online tools.

I also encourage constituents to utilize the federal government’s website by going to www.gc.ca where you will find a vast amount of useful information pertaining to all federal government programs, services and legislation.