Statistics Canada

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Statistics Canada
Statistique Canada
Statistics Canada logo.svg
Agency overview
FormedMay 1, 1971;52 years ago (May 1, 1971)
Preceding agency
Headquarters Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Employees6,890 (March 2019) [1]
Annual budget CA$507.7 million (2018–19) [2]
Minister responsible
Agency executive

Statistics Canada (StatCan; French : Statistique Canada), formed in 1971, is the agency of the Government of Canada commissioned with producing statistics to help better understand Canada, its population, resources, economy, society, and culture. It is headquartered in Ottawa. [3]


The agency is led by the chief statistician of Canada, currently Anil Arora, who assumed the role on September 19, 2016. [4] StatCan is accountable to Parliament through the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, currently François-Philippe Champagne.

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. [5]

It has regularly been considered the best statistical organization in the world by The Economist , [6] such as in the 1991 [7] and 1993 [8] "Good Statistics" surveys. The Public Policy Forum and others have also recognized successes of the agency. [9]


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 publishes numerous documents covering a range of statistical information about Canada, including census data, economic and health indicators, immigration economics, income distribution, and social and justice conditions. It also publishes a peer-reviewed statistics journal, Survey Methodology .

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tables used to be published as the Canadian Socio-economic Information Management System, or CANSIM, which has since been replaced by new, more easily manipulated data tables. [10]

The Daily is Statistics Canada's free online bulletin that provides current information from StatCan, updated daily, on current social and economic conditions. [11]

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. [12] 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). [13]

Data accessibility and licensing

As of 1 February 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. [14]

By 24 April 2006, electronic publications on Statistics Canada's web site were free of charge with some exceptions. [15]

The historical time series data from CANSIM is also available via numerous third-party data vendors, including Haver Analytics, [16] Macrobond Financial, [17] and Thomson Reuters Datastream. [18]

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." [19]


Statistics Canada was formed by the Statistics Act, [20] which came into force on May 1, 1971. [21] It replaced the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, [22] which was formed in 1918. Statistics Canada published a print copy of the yearly almanac entitled Canada Year Book from 1967 to 2012 [23] when it ceased publication due to ebbing demand and deep budgetary cutbacks to StatCan by the federal government. [23] It was a yearly compendium of statistical lore and information on the nation's social and economic past, people, events and facts. [24] 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. [25] 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. [26]

The mandatory long census form was cancelled by the federal government in 2010 in favour of a voluntary household survey (NHS). [27] 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. [28]

2012 layoffs

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. [29] 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. [30] These budget cuts reduced the amount of information Statistics Canada was able to produce during that time period. [29]

The census

By law, every household must complete the Canada Census form. [31] 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 2021, with the resulting data expected to be published in seven separate data sets throughout 2022. [32] Additional data will be published at a future date which has yet to be determined.

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, [33] 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". [34] On July 30, 2010 Statistics Canada published a description of the National Household Survey. [35]

The minister of industry, Tony Clement initially indicated that these changes were being made based on consultations with Statistics Canada [36] 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. [37] 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. [38] The minister has since claimed that concerns over privacy [39] and the threat of jail time [40] are the reasons for the change [41] and has refused to reverse his decision [42] stating that the prime minister supports the legislation. [43] 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". [44] Other industry professionals have also come out in defence of Statistics Canada's record on privacy issues. [45] [46] 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." [47]

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 analyse resource allocation is not beneficial. [45] [48] [49]

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 [37] [42] [45] [46] while others feel that politically motivated changes to StatCan methodology taints the reputation of the whole organization in the international setting. [50] Supporters of the change have offered models of European countries who are adopting alternate systems, [39] 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. [51]

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. [27] 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. [27] 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." [27]

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 [52] and it was used in the 2016 Census. [53] [54]

Political reactions

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. [55]

Standard geographic units

Statistics Canada divided Canada into the following standard geographic units for statistical purposes in the 2016 Census. [56]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Census</span> Acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population

A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring, recording and calculating population information about the members of a given population. This term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common censuses include censuses of agriculture, traditional culture, business, supplies, and traffic censuses. The United Nations (UN) defines the essential features of population and housing censuses as "individual enumeration, universality within a defined territory, simultaneity and defined periodicity", and recommends that population censuses be taken at least every ten years. UN recommendations also cover census topics to be collected, official definitions, classifications and other useful information to co-ordinate international practices.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Saguenay, Quebec</span> Canadian city, settled 1840s

Saguenay is a city in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec, Canada, on the Saguenay River, about 200 kilometres (120 mi) north of Quebec City by overland route. It is about 126 kilometres (78 mi) upriver and northwest of Tadoussac, located at the confluence with the St. Lawrence River. It was formed in 2002 by merging the cities of Chicoutimi and Jonquière and the town of La Baie. Chicoutimi was founded by French colonists in 1676. As of July 2021, the city had a population of 145,000 and the metropolitan area had a population of 165,000.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sherbrooke</span> City in Quebec, Canada

Sherbrooke is a city in southern Quebec, Canada. It is at the confluence of the Saint-François and Magog rivers in the heart of the Estrie administrative region. Sherbrooke is also the name of a territory equivalent to a regional county municipality (TE) and census division (CD) of Quebec, coextensive with the city of Sherbrooke. With 172,950 residents at the Canada 2021 Census, it is the sixth largest city in the province and the 30th largest in Canada. The Sherbrooke Census Metropolitan Area had 227,398 inhabitants, making it the fourth largest metropolitan area in Quebec and 19th in Canada.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">American Community Survey</span> Demographic survey in the United States

The American Community Survey (ACS) is an annual demographics survey program conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. It regularly gathers information previously contained only in the long form of the decennial census, including ancestry, citizenship, educational attainment, income, language proficiency, migration, disability, employment, and housing characteristics. These data are used by many public-sector, private-sector, and not-for-profit stakeholders to allocate funding, track shifting demographics, plan for emergencies, and learn about local communities.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Census geographic units of Canada</span> Term used in Canada

The census geographic units of Canada are the census subdivisions defined and used by Canada's federal government statistics bureau Statistics Canada to conduct the country's quinquennial census. These areas exist solely for the purposes of statistical analysis and presentation; they have no government of their own. They exist on four levels: the top-level (first-level) divisions are Canada's provinces and territories; these are divided into second-level census divisions, which in turn are divided into third-level census subdivisions and fourth-level dissemination areas.

The Statistics Act is an Act of the Parliament of Canada passed in 1918 which created the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, now called Statistics Canada since 1971.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Calgary Metropolitan Region</span> Metropolitan area in Alberta, Canada

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Greater Montreal</span> Metropolitan area in Quebec, Canada

Greater Montreal is the most populous metropolitan area in Quebec and the second most populous in Canada after Greater Toronto. In 2015, Statistics Canada identified Montreal's Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) as 4,258.31 square kilometres (1,644.14 sq mi) with a population of 4,027,100, almost half that of the province.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Winnipeg Metropolitan Region</span> Metropolitan area in Manitoba, Canada

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">2011 Canadian census</span> Enumeration of the Canadian population on May 10, 2011

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Demographics of Manitoba</span>

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">2016 Canadian census</span> Detailed enumeration of Canadians taken May 10, 2016

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Further reading