Statistics Canada acts as the national statistical agency for Canada, and Statistics Canada produces statistics for all the provinces
as well as the federal government. In addition to conducting about 350 active surveys
on virtually all aspects of Canadian life, the Statistics Act
mandates that Statistics Canada has a duty to conduct a country-wide census
of population every five years and a census of agriculture
every ten years.
It has regularly been considered the best statistical organization in the world by The Economist
such as in the 1991
"Good Statistics" surveys. The Public Policy Forum
and others have also recognized successes of the agency.
The head of Statistics Canada is the chief statistician of Canada. The heads of Statistics Canada and the previous organization, the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, are:
Statistics Canada provides free access to numerous aggregate data tables on various subjects of relevance to Canadian life. Many tables used to be published as the Canadian Socio-economic Information Management System, or CANSIM, which has since been replaced by new, more easily manipulated data tables
Subject areas include Aboriginal peoples, Agriculture, Business, consumer and property services, Business performance and ownership, Children and youth, Construction, Crime and justice, Culture and leisure, Economic accounts, Education, training and learning, Energy, Environment, Ethnic diversity and immigration, Families, households and housing, Government, Health, Income, pensions, spending and wealth, Information and communications technology, International trade, Labour, Languages, Manufacturing, Population and demography, Prices and price indexes, Reference, Retail and wholesale, Science and technology, Seniors, Society and community, Transportation, and Travel and tourism.
is Statistics Canada's free online bulletin that provides current information from StatCan, updated daily, on current social and economic conditions.
Statistics Canada also provides the Canadian Income Survey (CIS)—a cross-sectional survey that assesses the income, income sources, and the economic status of individuals and families in Canada.
Data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) is combined with data from the CIS. The February 24, 2020 reported statistics on the poverty based on the market basket measure (MBM).
Data accessibility and licensing
As of February 1, 2012 "information published by Statistics Canada is automatically covered by the Open License with the exception of Statistics Canada's postal products and Public Use Microdata Files (PUMFs)." Researchers using StatCan data are required to "give full credit for any Statistics Canada data, analysis and other content material used or referred to in their studies, articles, papers and other research works." The use of Public Use Microdata Files (PUMFs) is governed by the Data Liberation Initiative (DLI) License signed by the universities and Statistics Canada. Aggregate data available through the Canadian Socio-economic Information Management System CANSIM, and the Census website is Open Data
under the Statistics Canada Open License Agreement.
By 24 April 2006, electronic publications on Statistics Canada's web site were free of charge with some exceptions.
The historical time series
data from CANSIM is also available via numerous third-party data vendors, including Haver Analytics,
and Thomson Reuters Datastream.
Canadian Research Data Centre Network (CRDCN) The Canadian Research Data Centre Network (CRDCN) is a network of quantitative social sciences which includes 27 facilities across Canada that provide "access to a vast array of social, economic, and health data, primarily gathered" by Statistics Canada and disseminate "research findings to the policy community and the Canadian public."
Statistics Canada was formed by the Statistics Act,
which came into force on May 1, 1971.
It replaced the Dominion Bureau of Statistics
which was formed in 1918. Statistics Canada published a print copy of the yearly almanac entitled Canada Year Book
from 1967 to 2012
when it ceased publication due to ebbing demand and deep budgetary cutbacks to StatCan by the federal government.
It was a yearly compendium of statistical lore and information on the nation's social and economic past, people, events and facts.
The Canada Year Book
was originally edited by a volunteer from the Department of Finance
and published by a private company, which offset costs with advertisement sales. This method continued until 1879, at which time the record ceases, until 1885, at which time the Department of Agriculture
took up the burden. The duty of publication was transferred to the Dominion Bureau of Statistics upon its formation in 1918.
On June 18, 2005, after years of study by expert panels, discussion, debate (privacy vs the interests of genealogists and historians), Bill S-18 An Act to Amend the Statistics Act
was passed which released personal census records for censuses taken between 1911 and 2001, inclusive.
Debate over the census and their contents had periodically created changes in the Statistics Act
such as a 2005 amendment
making the privacy restrictions of the census information expire after more than a century. In addition, with Bill S-18, starting with the 2006 Census, Canadians can consent to the public release of their personal census information after 92 years. Census returns are in the custody of Statistics Canada and the records are closed until 92 years after the taking of a census, when those records may be opened for public use and transferred to Library and Archives Canada
subject to individual consent where applicable.
The mandatory long census form was cancelled by the federal government in 2010 in favour of a voluntary household survey (NHS).
The mandatory long form census was reinstated in time for the 2016 Census of Population.
In 2011, Statistics Canada released an audit acknowledging that from 2004 to 2011, their automated computer processes had "inadvertently made economic data available to data distributors before the official publication time." In November 2011, in response to the audit, StatCan stopped that process.
Nearly half of Statistics Canada's 5000 employees were notified in April 2012 that their jobs might be eliminated as part of austerity
measures imposed by the Conservative federal government in the 2012 Canadian federal budget
The 2,300 employees underwent a process to determine which ones were not impacted, which were eliminated and which were given early retirement or put in new positions.
These budget cuts reduced the amount of information Statistics Canada was able to produce during that time period.
By law, every household must complete the Canada Census
In May 2006
, an Internet version of the census was made widely available for the first time. Another census was held in May 2011
, again with the internet being the primary method for statistical data collection. The most recent census
was held in May 2016, with the internet being the primary method for statistical data collection. The data resulting from the census was released throughout 2017.
2011 Voluntary Long Form or National Household Survey
On June 17, 2010 an Order in Council
was created by the minister of industry defining the questions for the 2011 Census as including only the short-form questions; this was published in the Canada Gazette
on June 26, 2010,
however a news release was not issued by Minister of Industry Tony Clement until July 13, 2010. This release stated in part "The government will retain the mandatory short form that will collect basic demographic information. To meet the need for additional information, and to respect the privacy wishes of Canadians, the government has introduced the voluntary National Household Survey".
On July 30, 2010 Statistics Canada published a description of the National Household Survey.
The minister of industry, Tony Clement
initially indicated that these changes were being made based on consultations with Statistics Canada
but was forced to admit that the change from a mandatory to voluntary form was not one of the recommendations received from StatCan after the head of the organization Munir Sheikh
resigned in protest.
Information has since been uncovered that indicates attempts on the part of the government to distance themselves from the decision, instructing Statistics Canada officials to delete the phrase "as per government decision" from documents which were being written to inform Statistics Canada staff of the change.
The minister has since claimed that concerns over privacy
and the threat of jail time
are the reasons for the change
and has refused to reverse his decision
stating that the prime minister supports the legislation.
The argument over privacy has subsequently been undermined by a privacy commissioner
statement that she was “satisfied with the measures Statistics Canada had put into place to protect privacy”.
Other industry professionals have also come out in defense of Statistics Canada’s record on privacy issues.
The government has maintained its position, most recently expressed by Lynn Meahan, press secretary to the industry minister
, that the new census will result in "useable (sic) and useful data that can meet the needs of many users."
During the 2010 debates, the Freedom Party of Ontario
, a small group based on Ayn Rand
's writings, whose 42 candidates received 12,381 votes (or 0.26% of the popular vote) in the 2014 election, opposed the long census. They also opposed bilingualism, political correctness and the inclusion of a question on race on the 1996 Canadian census. FPO claimed that Canadian and British traditions had been dishonoured by multiculturalism. They are among a minority who argue that using statistical data to analyze resource allocation is not beneficial.
Central to the debate on this issue is the effect on the quality of data which will be collected by Statistics Canada under the new system. Many groups have made the claim that a voluntary system will not provide a quality of data consistent with what Statistics Canada is known for
while others feel that politically motivated changes to StatCan methodology taints the reputation of the whole organization in the international setting.
Supporters of the change have offered models of European countries who are adopting alternate systems,
although in these states the census is being replaced with a database of information on each citizen rather than a voluntary poll and none of these systems are planned for the Canadian 2011 census. They also challenge the current system's ability to cope with rapid socio-demographic changes, though this would not be addressed without increasing the frequency of the survey. Some public opposition to the changes has been expressed through the social media network Facebook
According to The Globe and Mail
, by 2015 an increasing number of economists joined organizations such as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Federation of Independent Business
, Canadian Economics Association
, Martin Prosperity Institute
, Toronto Region Board of Trade
, Restaurants Canada and the Canadian Association of Business Economics to call for a reinstatement of the mandatory long form.
Edmonton's chief economist preferred the long form and argues that the National Housing Survey is only useful at the aggregate city level and leaves "a dearth of data on long-term changes at the neighbourhood level and within demographic groups... making it difficult to make decisions such as "where to build a library, where to build a fire hall" without specific demographic information.
Because it was not mandatory there was a lower response rate and therefore increased risk of under-representation of some vulnerable segments of society, for example aboriginal peoples, newly arrived immigrants. This makes it more difficult to "pinpoint trends such as income inequality, immigrant outcomes in the jobs market, labour shortages and demographic shifts."
2015 reinstatement of mandatory long form
One day after his election in November 2015, the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau
reinstated the mandatory Census long form
and it was used in the 2016 Census.
Former industry minister Tony Clement recanted on his support for the elimination of the long form. He avowed that there were ways to protect both indispensable data and Canadians’ privacy. Blaming his party for a “collective” decision to terminate the long form, he said, “I think I would have done it differently.” He implied incorrectly that Statistics Canada head Munir Sheikh had agreed with the cancellation when it was done.
Standard geographic units
Statistics Canada divided Canada into the following standard geographic units for statistical purposes in the 2016 Census.
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Last edited on 10 May 2021, at 05:58
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