Work Begins on Standardizing Key Terms in Health Data and Digital Governance

Words matter, particularly in emerging digital fields where the meanings of terms have yet to be settled. Instead of collaboration, confusion can reign when stakeholders can interpret the same text differently.

To mitigate this risk, the CIO Strategy Council’s Standards Policy Committee has given the green light to the creation of two new lexicons. These will reduce ambiguity and uncertainty by providing standardized definitions of key terms.


Heath Data and Information Lexicon

This standard aims to strengthen data stewardship and management in the health sector by facilitating alignment around a common set of terms based on internationally accepted definitions where possible. This shared vocabulary will support data efforts that aid in the advancement of health and well-being across communities and populations in Canada.

“A lexicon is a perfect example of a small tool with massive impact,” says Eric Sutherland, Executive Director of the pan-Canadian Health Data Strategy at the Public Health Agency of Canada. “A common lexicon will accelerate health policy development and improve consistency of its roll-out. It will simplify and improve the quality of how we collect, share and use data, improving timely outcomes for all.”


English-French Lexicon for Digital Governance and Technologies

The rapid pace of change in digital technologies creates space for ambiguity and uncertainty in how terms should be translated between Canada’s official languages. This standard will define terms used in digital governance and technologies in both English and French and ensure they are aligned. When complete, it will be a resource to facilitate the use of a common terminology and accelerate development of policy and standards in this space.

“We’re thrilled that our proposal to develop a new Canadian standard for an English-French lexicon on digital governance and technologies was approved by the CIO Strategy Council Standards Policy Committee,” says Mathieu Desrosiers, Director of Everyday Banking, Electronic Payments and Digital Identity at Desjardins Group. “Getting people to agree on the meaning of words is a challenge in itself. This new standard in both official languages will form the foundation of a national, common understanding.”

“Using a common lexicon is foundational to digital governance,” says Michel Girard, Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation. “Common terms and definitions are required to achieve interoperability between systems and networks. You also need them to regulate high-risk AI or to manage digital identity consistently across jurisdictions. This is why CIGI supports this important initiative.”

“The Quebec Government is proud to contribute to the development of a digital governance and technology lexicon in collaboration with the CIO Strategic Council in both French and English,” said Pierre E. Rodrigue, Chief Information Officer of the Quebec Government. “A common terminology is the foundation for interoperable solutions in Quebec and across Canada. ”


Get Involved

If you’d like to participate, please fill out the application form on our Standards page. When asked to select at technical committee, choose Health Data and Information for the Health Data and Information Lexicon, or Data Governance for the English-French lexicon.

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