In June 2004, an expert Task Force, appointed by the National Research Council Canada and chaired by Dr. David Strong, came together in Ottawa to plan a National Forum as the focus of the National Consultation on Access to Scientific Research Data. The Forum, which was held in November 2004, brought together more than seventy Canadian leaders in scientific research, data management, research administration, intellectual property and other pertinent areas. This article presents a comprehensive review of the issues, and the opportunities and the challenges identified during the Forum. Complex and rich arrays of scientific databases are changing how research is conducted, speeding the discovery and creation of new concepts. Increased access will accelerate such changes even more, creating other new opportunities. With the combination of databases within and among disciplines and countries, fundamental leaps in knowledge will occur that will transform our understanding of life, the world and the universe. The Canadian research community is concerned by the need to take swift action to adapt to the substantial changes required by the scientific enterprise. Because no national data preservation organization exists, may experts believe that a national strategy on data access or policies needs to be developed, and that a "Data Task Force" be created to prepare a full national implementation strategy. Once such a national strategy is broadly supported, it is proposed that a dedicated national infrastructure, tentatively called "Data Canada", be established, to assume overall leadership in the development and execution of a strategic plan.