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]

Statistics Canada
Statistique Canada
Agency overview
FormedMay 1, 1971; 53 years ago (May 1, 1971)
Preceding agency
HeadquartersOttawa, Ontario, Canada
Employees6,890 (March 2019)[1]
Annual budgetCA$507.7 million (2018–19)[2]
Minister responsible
Agency executive

The agency is led by the Chief Statistician of Canada, currently André Loranger, who assumed the role on an interim basis on April 1, 2024.[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tables used to be published as the Canadian Socio-economic Information Management System, or CANSIM, which has since been replaced by new, more easily manipulated data tables.[10]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



  1. ^ "GC InfoBase". Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  2. ^ "GC InfoBase". Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  3. ^ "Contact us". StatCan. nd. Retrieved 4 August 2015.Statistics Canada, 150 Tunney's Pasture Driveway Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0T6; Statistique Canada 150, promenade du pré Tunney Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0T6
  4. ^ "André Loranger, Chief Statistician of Canada".
  5. ^ Government of Canada (12 December 2017). "Statistics Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. S-19)". Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  6. ^ "Canadian Initiative on Social Statistics". Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 11 July 2006. Retrieved 5 November 2006.
  7. ^ "Economist Good Statistics Guide Assesses Accuracy of Figures". The Economist. 7 September 1991.
  8. ^ "Economics Brief – Good Statistics Guide". The Economist. 11 September 1993.
  9. ^ 75 Years and Counting: A History of Statistics Canada. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. 1993. ISBN 0-662-62187-5.
  10. ^ Statistics Canada. "Frequently Asked Questions on Data Tables". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  11. ^ "The Daily", StatCan, nd, retrieved 4 August 2015
  12. ^ "Canadian Income Survey (CIS)". Surveys and statistical programs. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  13. ^ "Canadian Income Survey, 2018". The Daily. 24 February 2020. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  14. ^ "Copyright at the University Library: Statistics & Data from Statistics Canada", University of Saskatchewan, nd, retrieved 4 August 2015
  15. ^ "Access to Statistics Canada's electronic publications at no charge". Statistics Canada. 24 April 2006. Retrieved 1 December 2006.
  16. ^ Haver Analytics, 8 April 2005, retrieved 18 June 2016
  17. ^ Macrobond + CANSIM, 22 April 2016, retrieved 18 June 2016
  18. ^ Thomson Reuters Economics Data (PDF)
  19. ^ Currie, Raymond F.; Fortin, Sarah (2015), Social statistics matter: a history of the Canadian RDC Network (PDF), Hamilton, Ontario: CRDCN, ISBN 978-0-9947581-1-8, archived from the original (PDF) on 4 January 2016, retrieved 4 August 2015
  20. ^ "Chapter 15: Statistics Act". Acts of the Parliament of Canada. Third Session of the Twenty-Eighth Parliament. Vol. 1. Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada. 1972. pp. 437–455.
  21. ^ Grandy, J. F. (8 May 1971). "Statistics Act—Coming into force and having effect upon, from and after the 1st day of May, 1971". Proclamations. The Canada Gazette. Part 1. Vol. 105, no. 19. p. 1177.
  22. ^ Worton, David A. (1998). The Dominion Bureau of Statistics: A History of Canada's Central Statistical Office and Its Antecedents, 1841–1972. McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 286. ISBN 978-077351660-1.
  23. ^ a b The Canada Year Book is history, The Globe and Mail, 13 November 2012, retrieved 4 August 2015
  24. ^ Canada Year Book (CYB) Historical Collection, StatCan, 31 March 2008
  25. ^ "Bill S-18: An Act to Amend the Statistics Act". Parliament of Canada. Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  26. ^ "Statistics Act". Government of Canada. Retrieved 9 June 2013. 18. (1) The information contained in the returns of each census of population taken between 1910 and 2005 is no longer subject to sections 17 and 18 ninety-two years after the census is taken. (3) When sections 17 and 18 cease to apply to information referred to in subsection (1) or (2), the information shall be placed under the care and control of the Library and Archives of Canada.
  27. ^ a b c d TAVIA GRANT (6 February 2015). "Scrapping of long-form census causing long-term issues for business". The Globe and Mail. Toronto, ON. Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  28. ^ Mayeda, Andrew; Quinn, Greg (17 October 2011). "Political Aides Getting Canada Data Day in Advance Hurts Market Confidence". Bloomberg.
  29. ^ a b Curry, Bill; Grant, Tavia (1 May 2012). "Conservative cuts put half of Statscan jobs at risk". The Globe and Mail.
  30. ^ Egan, Louise (1 May 2012). "Budget cuts hit thousands of civil servants". Reuters.
  31. ^ "About the census: Questions and answers about the census". Statistics Canada. 10 January 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  32. ^ "2021 Census dissemination planning Release plans". Statistics Canada. 12 May 2021. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  33. ^ "orders in council - statistics canada". Industry Canada. 17 June 2010. Archived from the original on 3 June 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  34. ^ "Statement on 2011 Census". Industry Canada. 13 July 2010. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  35. ^ National Household Survey Archived 2011-06-03 at the Wayback Machine. (2012-05-14). Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  36. ^ Campion-Smith, Bruce (16 July 2010). "StatsCan recommended move to voluntary census, Tony Clement says". Toronto Star. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  37. ^ a b Proudfoot, Shannon (22 July 2010). "StatsCan in turmoil over census". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  38. ^ Proudfoot, Shannon (2 March 2011). "StatsCan panel tried to fight decision to kill long-form census: documents". Postmedia News. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  39. ^ a b "Leviathan's spyglass". The Economist. 15 July 2010. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
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  42. ^ a b "Clement to face MPs on census". CBC News. 24 July 2010. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  43. ^ Howlett, Karen; Perreaux, Les (22 July 2010). "Premiers seek difficult census compromise". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 22 July 2010.
  44. ^ "Few complaints about census: privacy commissioner". Toronto Sun Blogs. 14 July 2010. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
  45. ^ a b c Willcocks, Paul (4 August 2010). "The bizarre decision on the census". Retrieved 4 August 2010.
  46. ^ a b "Count on it: long-form census basic to decision-making in Canada". 17 July 2010. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
  47. ^ "Professors may need more funding after census changes". CTV News. The Canadian Press. 5 December 2010. Archived from the original on 2 November 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2021.
  48. ^ Campion-Smith, Bruce (6 July 2010). "Optional Long Form Census a Blow to Racism". Toronto Star. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  49. ^ Richard, Field. "First Shell Fire". Heroes Remember. Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  50. ^ Gutstein, Donald (27 July 2010). "Why Attack the Long Census?". The Tyee. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  51. ^ "Keep the Canada Census Long Form". Facebook. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
  52. ^ Campion-Smith, Bruce (5 November 2015). "Canada's long-form census is back for 2016". The Star [Toronto]. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  53. ^ Guide to the Census of Population, 2016. Statistics Canada. 5 January 2017. pp. Chapter 5 – Census of Population questionnaires.
  54. ^ "2016 Census 2A-L Questionnaire". Statistics Canada. 7 February 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  55. ^ Selley, Chris (25 February 2016). "Conservatives in dire need of an ideological and policy reset before leadership race". National Post. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  56. ^ Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016. Statistics Canada. 8 February 2017. pp. Figure 1.1 Hierarchy of standard geographic units for dissemination, 2016 Census.
  57. ^ "Interim List of Changes to Municipal Boundaries, Status, and Names: From January 2, 2012 to January 1, 2013" (PDF). Statistics Canada. pp. 6–7. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  58. ^ "Census metropolitan area (CMA) and census agglomeration (CA)". Statistics Canada. 27 November 2015. Retrieved 25 February 2016.

Further reading

  • Statistics Canada (27 October 2010). Canada Year Book. Ottawa: Federal Publications (Queen of Canada). Catalogue no 11-402-XPE.