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Country Profile of Canada

Main statistical agency
Main statistical agency name
Statistics Canada
Web address
www.statcan.gc.ca/
Position in the government
Statistics Act: 'The Governor in Council may appoint an officer called the Chief Statistician of Canada to be the deputy of the Minister for the purposes of this Act and to hold office during pleasure'. Currently, the Chief Statistician reports to the Minister of Industry.
Organizational structure and finance
The Minister of Industry is the Minister responsible to Parliament for Statistics Canada. The Agency is headed by a Deputy-Minister, the Chief Statistician of Canada, who is supported by seven Assistant Chief Statisticians: four are responsible for program areas and three for technical and management operations in support of the operational programs.

In addition to the functional organizational structure, Statistics Canada employs a matrix structure to govern the way it plans its activities, allocates and manages its resources, and carry-out its operations. For example, for a given survey, the program area (subject matter) responsible for the survey uses the services of centralised expertise in survey methodology, systems developments, survey collection and processing, data dissemination, etc. This matrix structure has enabled Statistics Canada to consolidate its infrastructure functions to achieve efficiencies, to increase flexibility, and to maintain centres of technical expertise. Financial resources are managed both from a survey area (program) viewpoint as well as from a service area (functional) viewpoint. The Agency also uses ad hoc project teams to creatively solve technical or program challenges. These project teams are multi-disciplinary and cut across program and organizational lines.
Multi-annual or annual work program
The Statistics Canada (NSO) has an ongoing work program which is modified on the margin every year through redistribution of resources based on user priorities and program needs. In addition the program is supplemented by separately funded cyclical programs (e.g. the Census of Population) and cost recovery work that is paid for by external clients, primarily other Government ministries.
Main duties
Under the Statistics Act, Statistics Canada is required to "collect, compile, analyse, abstract and publish statistical information relating to the commercial, industrial, financial, social, economic and general activities and conditions of the people of Canada."

Statistics Canada has two main objectives:

1. To provide statistical information and analysis about Canada's economic and social structure to:

o develop and evaluate public policies and programs

o improve public and private decision-making for the benefit of all Canadians.

2. To promote sound statistical standards and practices by:

o using common concepts and classifications to provide better quality data.

o working with the provinces and territories to achieve greater efficiency in data collection and less duplication.

o reducing the burden on respondents through greater use of data sharing agreements (sources used include annual tax records, monthly employee payroll records and customs records)

o improving statistical methods and systems through joint research studies and projects.

Statistics Canada produces statistics that help Canadians better understand their country-its population, resources, economy, society and culture.

In Canada, providing statistics is a federal responsibility. As Canada's central statistical agency, Statistics Canada is legislated to serve this function for the whole of Canada and each of the provinces.

Objective statistical information is vital to an open and democratic society. It provides a solid foundation for informed decisions by elected representatives, businesses, unions and non-profit organizations, as well as individual Canadians.

In addition to conducting a Census every five years, there are about 350 active surveys on virtually all aspects of Canadian life.

Statistics Canada is committed to protecting the confidentiality of all information entrusted to us and to ensuring that the information delivered is timely and relevant to Canadians.


Brief history and other relevant background information
Brief history and other relevant background information
The Statistics Act of 1918 created the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, with the following mandate: to collect, abstract, compile and publish statistical information relative to the commercial, industrial, social, economic and general activities and condition of the people. The Act gave legislated form to existing government policies and to the recommendation of the Foster Commission of 1912 that a centralized and coordinated statistical system should be created.

In 1960, a Royal Commission, in one of its special studies, gave a strong endorsement to strengthening the centralized statistical system and ensuring the Bureau's independence. One recommendation was that the Bureau become a federal department in its own right and that the Dominion Statistician have the status of a deputy minister. By an Order-in-Council of January 6, 1965, the government accepted this recommendation.

Parliament passed a new Statistics Act in 1971. The legislation received Royal Assent on February 11 and was proclaimed May 1, 1971. By this Act, the Dominion Bureau of Statistics became Statistics Canada with a broader mandate: to collect, compile, analyse, abstract and publish statistical information relating to the commercial, industrial, financial, social, economic and general activities and condition of the people. The revised Act also gave Statistics Canada specific access to income tax returns and confirmed its general right of access to administrative data.


Legal basis
Legal basis
The Statistics Act guarantees the existence of an NSO and a Chief Statistician. It dictates that a Census of Population and a Census of Agriculture be conducted and enumerates other areas for which statistics can be produced. It covers data sharing limitations, confidentiality protection, publication and access to tax data as well as a section on sanctions and fines. See http://www.statcan.ca/english/about/statact.htm STATISTICS ACT, 1985, c. S-19 amended by 1988, c. 65, s. 146 1990, c. 45, s. 54 1992, c. 1, ss. 130, 131. 2005, c. 31, 2005, c. 38


Other producers of official statistics
Other producers of official statistics
Other producers are marginal compared to Statistics Canada. The Bank of Canada produces some financial data (money supply); the Canadian Institute of Health Information produces some statistics on the operations of health institutions. In both cases, their work is well integrated with Statistics Canada's program. Some provincial and territorial statistical offices produce statistics for their domains.


Statistical advisory bodies
Statistical advisory bodies
The National Statistics Council advises the Chief Statistician on issues of statistical policy and priorities. With 40 members the Council brings to bear expertise in a wide variety of disciplines and from many backgrounds (business, academia and the media). The Council meets twice a year for a day and a half each time. Professional advisory committees also exist to advise on major program areas.


Data collection
Most recent population census
15 May 2001
Access to administrative data
The authority to access administrative data for statistical purposes is provided by the Statistics Act. The Income Tax and Excise Tax Acts also authorize this use in the case of tax data.
Data confidentiality
Confidentiality protection of respondent data is part of the Agency culture, reinforced continually from the day new employees are sworn in. Disclosure protection expertise and software is available to assist programs in ensuring their outputs are protected from inadvertent disclosure. In the case of public-use microdata, all releases must pass through a Microdata Release Committee that scrutinizes them. The confidentiality of respondent data is guaranteed by the Statistics Act with serious penalties. Electronic access controls are in place to ensure that confidential microdata cannot be accessed from external or unauthorized internal sources.


Data dissemination
Release calendar (existence, when and how published)
Release dates are published on the Internet and elsewhere, generally one year in advance.
Main publications
Delivery of the statistical results is the final but most vital stage of the statistical process to the end user.

The information is held secret until its Official release in our Internet publication, The Daily. By the end of the day, the information is spreading to all Canadians through the media and via our regional office toll-free telephone lines.

The Internet allows for instant publication of statistical reports. These reports are also available in electronic format.

CANSIM II, our social and economic database, is accessible from our Web site and through private-sector online computer services. Data packaged on diskette and CD-ROM are also made available for users wanting offline access to our data.

Search the online catalogue of all Statistics Canada's products and services on the website.

Browse Internet publications (PDF or HTML)

o Free

o For sale: Access Online databases

o Canadian International Merchandise Trade: detailed trade data at the 8- and 10-digit commodity level

o Other international trade statistics.

Languages of main publications
English, French
How are data disseminated (Paper, CD Rom, Website, online databases, databanks)?
All different formats.
Availability of microdata for research purposes
Non-identifiable micro-data files are publicly available as approved by the Microdata Release Committee. Identifiable microdata is only available to employees or deemed employees (those undertaking work for Statistics Canada and sworn in under the Act).




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