Archived – Program 1: Economic and Environmental Statistics

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Program description

The Economic and Environmental Statistics program's purpose is to create a trusted, relevant and comprehensive source of information on the entire spectrum of Canada's economy in order to: inform public debate on economic issues; support economic policy development, implementation and evaluation; and guide business decision making. It is the primary source of information for developing the country's fiscal and monetary policies and for studying the economic evolution of Canadian industries and regions. These statistics support various statutory requirements, among others: the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Regulations, the Bretton Woods and Related Agreements Act, Land Claims Settlements Agreements and the Comprehensive Integrated Tax Coordination Agreement related to the Harmonized Sales Tax. The outputs are also vital to research and to economic policy development, implementation and evaluation by a number of federal departments, such as the Bank of Canada, Finance Canada, Industry Canada, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, as well as by provincial and territorial governments. They are extensively used by the private sector for business planning and decision making and by international agencies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations (UN). Outputs include monthly and annual measures of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the Consumer Price Index (CPI), current indicators of retail and wholesale trade, Canada's merchandise export and import statistics, estimates of agricultural income and expenditures, transportation statistics and statistics relevant for the analysis of relationships between human activity and the environment in Canada.

Table 1:Financial Resources (thousands of dollars)This table displays, in thousands of dollars, the total main budgetary expenditure estimates for 2013/2014 and planned spending for 2013/2014, 2014/2015 and 2015/2016.
Total Budgetary Expenditures (Main Estimates 2013–2014) Planned Spending 2013–2014 Planned Spending 2014–2015 Planned Spending 2015–2016
115,166 115,166 122,330 121,477
Table 2:Human Resources (Full-Time Equivalent–FTE)This table displays human resources in full-time equivalents for 2013/2014, 2014/2015 and 2015/2016.
2013–2014 2014–2015 2015–2016
1,153 1,225 1,214

The budget related to the one-time workforce adjustment costs was transferred to the Statistical Infrastructure Program in 2013-14 in order to be managed centrally. The budget is returned to the program in 2014-15, accounting for part of the increase. The remaining increase from 2013-14 to 2014-15 is the result of newly signed collective agreements and changes to the CPI and the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators reference levels. The decrease in planned spending from 2014–2015 to 2015–2016 is the result of the reduction in the CPI reference levels.

Table 3:Economic and Environmental Statistics: Performance Indicators and TargetsThis table displays the program's expected results, performance indicators and targets, and presents definitions of the performance indicators.
Program
Expected Results
Performance Indicators Targets
Public and private sector organizations utilize economic and environmental statistics for monitoring the economy, for policy development, and for research Percentage of intended key users (federal departments, provinces and territories, international organizations and others) using the data regularly 100%
Percentage of key users (federal departments, provinces and territories, international organizations and others) satisfied with the data 80%
Table 4:Macro Accounts (System of National Accounts): Performance Indicators and TargetsThis table displays the sub-program's expected results, performance indicators and targets, and presents definitions of the performance indicators.
Sub-program
Expected Results
Performance Indicators Targets
Public- and private-sector organizations utilize national accounts statistics to inform debate on macroeconomic issues, for economic research and analysis, and for decision-making and the conduct of macroeconomic policy. Percentage of intended key users (federal departments, provinces and territories, international organizations and others) using the data regularly 100%
Percentage of key users (federal departments, provinces and territories, international organizations and others) satisfied with the data 80%
Number of media citations for the GDP program 750
Table 5:Industry Statistics: Performance Indicators and TargetsThis table displays the sub-program's expected results, performance indicators and targets, and presents definitions of the performance indicators."
Sub-program
Expected Results
Performance Indicators Targets
Public and private sector organizations utilize the Monthly Survey of Manufacturing, Retail trade, and Wholesale trade for monitoring the economy, for research, and for policy development. Percentage of intended key users (federal departments, provinces and territories, international organizations and others) using the data regularly 100%
Percentage of key users (federal departments, provinces and territories, international organizations and others) satisfied with the data 80%
Number of media citations for each mission-critical program 1,100
Table 6:Economy-wide Business Statistics: Performance Indicators and TargetsThis table displays the sub-program's expected results, performance indicators and targets, and presents definitions of the performance indicators.
Sub-program
Expected Results
Performance Indicators Targets
Public- and private-sector organizations utilize the CPI, Canadian international merchandise trade, and Quarterly financial statistics for enterprises for monitoring the economy, research, and policy development. Percentage of intended key users (federal departments, provinces and territories, international organizations and others) using the data regularly 100%
Percentage of key users (federal departments, provinces and territories, international organizations and others) satisfied with the data 80%
Number of media citations for each mission-critical program 1,700
Table 7:Environmental Statistics: Performance Indicators and TargetsThis table displays the sub-program's expected results, performance indicators and targets, and presents definitions of the performance indicators.
Sub-program
Expected Results
Performance Indicators Targets
Public and private sector organizations utilize the environmental accounts and statistics on the changing relationship between human activity and Canada's economy to inform debate, research and decision-making on environmental issues. Percentage of intended key users (federal departments, provinces and territories, international organizations and others) using the data regularly 100%
Percentage of key users (federal departments, provinces and territories, international organizations and others) satisfied with the data 80%
Number of media citations of Daily releases of environmental statistics 20
Table 8:Analysis of Economic and Environmental Statistics: Performance Indicators and TargetsThis table displays the sub-program's expected results, performance indicators and targets, and presents definitions of the performance indicators.
Sub-program
Expected Results
Performance Indicators Targets
Public and private sector organizations utilize the results of statistical analyses, models, databases and other statistical information products for informed debate, research and decision-making on economic and environmental issues. Percentage of key users (federal departments, provinces and territories, international organizations and others) satisfied with the analytical products 80%
Number of media citations of economic and environmental analytical products 50

Planning Highlights

The program outputs are used in meeting a variety of statutory and regulatory requirements. The statistics generated support the estimates of gross domestic product (GDP), production, costs, sales, productivity and prices for industrial sectors, to the flows and stocks of fixed and financial capital assets, international trade and finance, and the extent of foreign ownership in Canada's economy. Moreover, national accounts data are used to implement the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and to allocate Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) revenue among Canada and the provinces that collect HST.

The System of National Accounts (SNA) covers production by industry and commodity; GDP by income, expenditure and sector; financial transactions; balance sheets; and a range of international accounts. As such, the national accounts provide the framework for most of the Economic Statistics Program and use the industry and commodity data collected mainly from the Business and Trade Statistics program, as well as administrative data (e.g., tax data) to provide macroeconomic statistics and analysis of Canadian economic activity, both domestic and international.

The Business and Trade Statistics program provides microeconomic statistics and analysis, and comprises

  • the Economy-wide Statistics program, which covers financial and taxation statistics for enterprises, international trade, and prices
  • the Industry Statistics program, which covers retail and wholesale trade, manufacturing, construction, energy and services
  • the Agriculture, Transportation and Technology program, which covers agriculture, science, technology, broadcasting, telecommunications, innovation, electronic commerce, small business, investment, capital stock, and transportation.

The Economic Statistics Program also includes environmental data related to pollution, natural assets, and activities to reduce environmental damage; changes in consumer and industrial prices; and statistics related to science, technology, research and development.

The Analytical Studies program integrates and analyzes data collected by Statistics Canada and others to describe Canada's economy and society—information vital for a competitive and rapidly evolving economy. The program develops new, better techniques for the statistical analysis and interpretation of socio-economic datasets. The program also produces analytical data products, such as the annual estimates of multifactor productivity, longitudinal worker files, and health databases. It also publishes about 70 analytical reports per year. These activities are vital for the Bank of Canada, Finance Canada, Industry Canada, the private financial sector, and health and social data users.

To fulfill their purpose, the statistics these programs produce must be of high quality, up-to-date, coherent and accessible, and they must accurately depict the performance of Canada's economy. These statistics must also be based on information gathered efficiently, with the least possible burden on businesses, farmers and other Canadians.

Statistics Canada continues to update the Economic Statistics Program to reflect the changing realities of the Canadian economy. At the same time, it strives to make its processes more efficient by using more and more administrative data, as well as modern technology for surveying and processing data. The goal is to expand data access for Canadians, while maintaining or improving the data quality and timeliness they have come to expect.

The planned release dates for major economic indicators can be found at Release dates for major economic indicators.

Planned activity: Deliver timely and accurate economic indicators

Producing a comprehensive program of macroeconomic statistics to support fiscal and monetary policy is one of Statistics Canada's fundamental responsibilities. This program comprises measures of Canada's GDP, on both an expenditure and income basis, and by industry; cross-border statistics; national wealth; consumer, raw material and producer price movements; and more detailed measures of international trade, retail and wholesale sales, manufacturing shipments, corporate profits and corporate finance. Canada subscribes to the International Monetary Fund's Special Data Dissemination Standard. The Agency's programs provide data for most of the categories required by this standard. Macroeconomic statistics also play a key role in federal equalization payments to the provinces and in the allocation of HST revenues between federal and provincial governments. The CPI plays a central role in monetary policy, and in adjusting transfer payments and tax brackets for the effects of inflation.

Specifically
Ongoing

  • Conduct the monthly and annual economic surveys used to compile the GDP and other economic indicators.
  • Publish statistics on the financial health of the economy such as national wealth and household debt.
  • Publish economic indicators, such as retail sales, international imports and exports, manufacturing shipments, and GDP on monthly and quarterly bases, within two months of the reference period.
  • Publish the international merchandise trade monthly, within five weeks of the reference period.
  • Collect data monthly that are used to compile the CPI and publish the CPI monthly, within three weeks of the reference period.

Planned activity: Improvements to the business-survey processing environment

To meet various economic data requirements, Statistics Canada conducts a wide range of business surveys, on a myriad of topics that target all sectors of the Canadian economy. To further increase efficiency and make its survey infrastructure more robust, Statistics Canada launched an initiative, the Integrated Business Survey Program (IBSP), to streamline and consolidate the Agency's business survey-processing environment. The IBSP will reduce diversity in methods and system applications among the surveys, as well as maximize the re-use of common and integrated solutions.

The IBSP is in its third full year of development. When completed, it will provide a common processing environment for more than 100 business surveys. The program will provide long-term savings; promote the use of common tools, systems and processes to reduce maintenance costs; ease knowledge transfer; and improve data processing timelines by using a simpler, more harmonized model.

The IBSP will make electronic data collection the primary data collection method. This will generate savings, improve data quality and ease respondent burden, heeding their demands for an alternative to paper-based collection. The IBSP will also benefit Canadians by making greater use of administrative data, which will ease response burden on businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises.

Specifically
2013–2014

  • Finish developing and testing the electronic questionnaires for the initial group of surveys to be integrated into the IBSP.
  • Build and test content and survey processing systems.
  • Complete development of the survey metadata base.
  • Develop a strategy for analyzing new data series.
  • Develop and start implementing a transition plan to the new model.

Planned activity: Further renewal of the System of National Accounts

The national accounts form a fundamental part of Canada's reporting requirements to international organizations, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United Nations. These reporting requirements evolve in line with the changes to international standards. All major economies, including Canada, are in the process of moving to the SNA 2008 and to its associated standards.

In line with the strategy to revise the System of National Accounts (SNA) more frequently than in the past and having successfully implemented a large scale historical revision of the SNA in 2012–13 to comply with new international standards (SNA 2008) and address emerging economic issues, work will continue on implementing more conceptual changes based on recommendations still being formulated by various international bodies. Specifically, plans will be developed for the next revision to the Canadian SNA, to be released in 2015.

Responding to a need for long and consistent time-series data for analytical and research purposes, several national accounts time-series not released with the 2012 historical revision will be finalized and published, including some national databases back to 1926 and some provincial series back to 1981.

In the international accounts, work to address the emerging needs of key users and new international standards will continue, especially in the context of new survey results on foreign direct investment.

Work will also continue to improve SNA methodologies and adapt methodologies and processes to changes in source data, thereby ensuring the high quality of SNA statistics.

Specifically
2013–2014

  • Develop an integrated plan for implementing the next historical revision of the National Accounts in 2015.
  • Continue the conceptual and statistical work related to further implementing international standards.
  • Improve and adapt SNA methodologies and processes to changes in source data.
  • Publish consistent national time-series back to 1926 and provincial time-series back to 1981.

Planned activity: Enhance the Consumer Price Index to better serve the needs of the household, business, and public sectors

The CPI enhancement initiative will enter its fourth year in 2013–2014. It focuses on developing, piloting and implementing changes to the CPI sample, price indexes, business processes, and information technology (IT) systems to produce a more efficient and representative CPI, based on the most current theory and practices. Producing a better CPI that more accurately measures price changes facing consumers is important since the CPI impacts Canadians in many important ways. The CPI is the Bank of Canada's target indicator used to set interest rates. It is also used to adjust public- and private-sector arrangements such as pensions, collective agreements, rental contracts, and tax brackets. In addition, the CPI is used to deflate 'nominal' values related to consumer incomes and expenditures to produce 'real' measures. By eliminating changes related to price movements, the indicators measuring the economy or individual well-being can be better understood. The CPI is also used for many ancillary analytical purposes, investment decision-making and economic forecasting.

Specifically
2013–2014

  • Continue to introduce new, representative products and outlets to the CPI, specifically those for travel tours; passenger vehicle parts, maintenance and repairs; funeral services; household appliances; clothing; food; furniture; tobacco products; home entertainment equipment, parts and services; and school supplies. A new geographical stratum will be introduced in Quebec, and coverage will be expanded in the existing southern Ontario stratum.
  • Include in the index and sample change in development this year traveller accommodation; shelter; food purchased from restaurants; alcoholic beverages; health care services; a second phase for furniture and clothing; and increases to samples for major urban centres in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.
  • Implement new quality adjustment methods for household equipment, furniture and recreational products; continue developing the application of hedonic methods for household appliances and audio-video and clothing products.
  • Continue IT and operational changes, including the delivery of a beta version of the CPI estimation system; pilots for paperless data collection; and further automation of data processing and sample management processes, all of which support the production of the CPI.

Planned activity: Modernize the Government Finance Statistics program

Statistics Canada publishes a comprehensive set of government finance statistics. They encompass all levels of government by converting distinct sets of financial statements into one consistent, comparable set of financial statistics. This enables comparison of government finances across jurisdictions. The revenue statistics from this program are used in the equalization program of the Federal–Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act. The statistical framework for these data must be revised to reflect changes to international financial and statistical accounting practices. In November 2013, revenue data based on the new standard will be published for the first time, and be used in the equalization program. The remainder of the data program, which is used by governments for analytical and forecasting purposes, as well as for reporting to international agencies like the IMF and OECD, covers expenditures by function of government (e.g., health, education). Changes to this part of the program will be implemented incrementally from 2014 to 2016.

Specifically
2013–2014

  • Continue to implement the new IMF standard.
  • Inform key stakeholders about the new statistical accounting standards and classifications.
  • Support the 2014–2015 renewal of the Federal–Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, and adapt to any changes, as necessary.
  • Disseminate the first Government Finance Statistics data for the administration of the Federal–Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act in November 2013.
  • Finalize dissemination strategy and documentation for full Government Finance Statistics publication.

Planned activity: Review the existing environmental statistics based on the recently completed framework for environmental statistics

Following several years of development and consultation, Statistics Canada completed the development of a framework for environment statistics, based on natural capital in 2012–13. The framework provides the conceptual foundation upon which future development of the environment statistics program will be based.

With development of the framework now complete, the framework will be used as the basis for a review of the existing environmental statistics program to identify gaps. These gaps will then be prioritized, through discussions with key user groups, and a medium-term plan to reduce or eliminate the gaps will be established, with the pace of implementation being subject to resource availability.

In addition, inter-departmental work began in 2011–12 on the project "Measurement of ecosystems, goods and services," which will be completed in 2013–2014. The results of this research project will be published in the 2013–2014 edition of Statistics Canada's report, Human Activity and the Environment. The interdepartmental community-of-practice that was established during the course of this project will continue developing this leading-edge, statistical domain within available resources.

Specifically
2013–2014

  • Publish the results of the interdepartmental research project, "Measurement of ecosystems, goods and services," in the 2013–2014 edition of Human Activity and the Environment.
  • Develop a medium-term plan for the environment statistics program that identifies key data gaps.

Planned activity: Reduce response burden and expand use of administrative data

Statistics Canada is committed to reducing response burden for all of its survey respondents. The Agency has established a significant track record in the use of administrative data and of statistical techniques to reduce the number of surveys sent to businesses. Through the Red Tape Reduction Action Plan, the Agency is implementing many measures to reduce the number of questionnaires, limit the number of questions, shorten the length of time that businesses are in a survey's sample, and make collection methods more respondent-friendly. The long-term objective would be to minimize, if not eliminate, multiple data requests for the same information by Statistics Canada and other federal departments, by increasing the use of administrative data in lieu of survey data, and by reviewing the Agency's client-department information needs. We are also moving quickly to adopt electronic reporting, a mode favoured by many businesses, as the primary data collection mode.

Specifically
2013–2014

  • Collaborate with other federal government departments to align and coordinate information needs, regardless of purpose.
  • Conduct feasibility studies on substituting survey data with other administrative data (from various sources—e.g., federal, provincial, municipal).

Planned activity: Agriculture Statistics Program Review

The Agriculture Division conducts an extensive statistical program with several highly integrated components, comprising the Census of Agriculture, crop and livestock surveys, farm economic statistics, agri-environmental statistics, tax and other administrative data, research and analysis, and remote sensing. The Agriculture program review, undertaken in 2011, examined approaches that different countries take to conduct agricultural censuses and surveys, and reviewed statutory and user data requirements. It assessed different options for producing agricultural statistics in terms of fulfilling user requirements and reducing the burden placed on Canadian farmers. The review confirmed that Statistics Canada's agriculture statistics program, of which the Census of Agriculture is an integral component, continues to fulfill legislative requirements and serve the needs of several long-standing and diverse clients. The consultations and review regarding the agriculture statistics requirements for program administration and policy-making indicated the following:

  • a traditional quinquennial Census of Agriculture is necessary in the short- to medium-term to obtain the required information
  • some efficiency could be gained, and response burden could be reduced by adopting a different Census of Agriculture model
  • alternative data-collection strategies could streamline the current program to reduce burden and yield cost efficiencies.

Following this initiative, further work is required to investigate and analyze alternative data sources that have been identified and that hold promise for incorporation into the agriculture statistics program. High levels of inter-departmental co-operation and support across jurisdictions will be necessary to fully exploit these data sources and to start making changes to the program, where feasible. Further analysis of remote sensing technologies and administrative data sources (including further incorporation of taxation data) is also required.

Specifically
2013–2014

  • Increase the integration of administrative data to replace survey questions, where possible.
  • Replace detailed revenue and expense questions on the Census of Agriculture and on the Farm Financial Survey with taxation data.
  • Increase the use of remote-sensing applications, with a view to replacing survey questions or entire surveys over the longer term.

Benefits for Canadians

An effective, well-developed economic and environmental statistics program is important for Canadian businesses, workers, governments and other institutions. It can be used as a benchmark against which the performance of the economy, and collective undertakings of these organizations, can be measured. This program is central to Canada's participation in international institutions, such as the IMF, the OECD, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. International coordination of economic policy, proper functioning of financial markets, and effective trade negotiations depend on statistical information.

Equalization payments to provinces, as well as the indexation of social benefits and tax brackets, are important examples of legislated uses of economic statistics. In the private sector, many contracts and collective agreements are similarly dependent on economic statistics.

The current economic climate well illustrates the dependence of macroeconomic fiscal and monetary policy on economic statistics. Similarly dependent on economic statistics are industrial and labour market policies, regional economic policy, productivity and innovation policies, and policies designed to attract and retain foreign investment in Canada. Environmental statistics provide data on the impact of human activity on the environment, and shed light on the interaction of policy initiatives and environmental issues.

Like governments, private businesses depend on economic statistics for making decisions on such things as investments, market analysis, opening and closing locations, and mergers and acquisitions. Timely and reliable statistics reduce uncertainty about the economy and environment, and make private decision-making more efficient.

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