2016: The year in statistics

December 23, 2016

2016 was a year of statistical highs at Canada's national statistical organization.

The census was received with great enthusiasm, with Canadians filling it out at an unprecedented rate.

With the arrival of a wave of refugees early in the year, Canada received the largest volume of new immigrants for one quarter, according to the agency's population estimates.

Statistics Canada flexed its analytical muscles in 2016, delving into the social and economic situation of Indigenous people and immigrants in Canada and began to assess the impact of the wildfire in northern Alberta.

The agency took on several initiatives to meet the emerging information needs of Canadians. We released new measures to track inflation and online sales, extended our coverage of children's health through a pilot survey and relaunched an important survey on postsecondary institutions.

We upped our technology game, launching a number of new initiatives, such as using new data visualization tools to release data and a crowdsourcing platform to collect data.

In September 2016, Statistics Canada also welcomed Anil Arora back to the agency, as the new Chief Statistician.

It was a year of achievement, innovation and evolution at Statistics Canada.

Best census since 1666

In 2016, Statistics Canada conducted the Census of Population and Census of Agriculture. Overall, 98.4% of households participated in the Census of Population, up from both the 2006 and 2011 censuses. The participation rate for the long-form questionnaire reached a record high of 97.8%, making it the best census since 1666.

The 2016 Census of Agriculture was also highly successful. More farm operators than ever filled out the questionnaire online in 2016, and the collection period was three months shorter than in 2011. As a result, the 2016 Census of Agriculture was very efficient, and is expected to yield high-quality data.

Immigration to Canada has a record high quarter

In summer 2016, Statistics Canada announced that the country had received the largest number of immigrants in a single quarter since the adoption of the current system of demographic accounts in 1971. According to StatCan's population estimates, 86,216 people immigrated to the country in the first quarter, with a large number of Syrian refugees included in these arrivals.

While the immigration levels were not as high in the second and third quarters of 2016, the total for the first three quarters was nevertheless the highest since 1971, with 240,548 immigrants arriving in Canada from January to September 2016, according to population estimates.

Chart 1 - Immigration to Canada, quarterly
Description of Chart 1
Chart 1 - Immigration to Canada, quarterly
  Number of immigrants
1971 Q1 27,899
1971 Q2 31,278
1971 Q3 34,828
1971 Q4 27,895
1972 Q1 23,567
1972 Q2 30,746
1972 Q3 32,474
1972 Q4 35,219
1973 Q1 26,288
1973 Q2 44,545
1973 Q3 49,057
1973 Q4 64,310
1974 Q1 45,302
1974 Q2 58,787
1974 Q3 62,312
1974 Q4 52,064
1975 Q1 43,448
1975 Q2 51,459
1975 Q3 54,550
1975 Q4 38,424
1976 Q1 32,359
1976 Q2 44,695
1976 Q3 41,539
1976 Q4 30,836
1977 Q1 26,048
1977 Q2 32,508
1977 Q3 33,797
1977 Q4 22,561
1978 Q1 20,332
1978 Q2 24,277
1978 Q3 21,948
1978 Q4 19,756
1979 Q1 18,866
1979 Q2 23,948
1979 Q3 32,052
1979 Q4 37,230
1980 Q1 34,349
1980 Q2 40,194
1980 Q3 37,376
1980 Q4 31,579
1981 Q1 26,789
1981 Q2 31,494
1981 Q3 35,931
1981 Q4 34,580
1982 Q1 29,707
1982 Q2 35,121
1982 Q3 29,700
1982 Q4 26,803
1983 Q1 22,002
1983 Q2 22,899
1983 Q3 23,008
1983 Q4 21,468
1984 Q1 19,052
1984 Q2 25,064
1984 Q3 24,881
1984 Q4 19,602
1985 Q1 18,221
1985 Q2 21,221
1985 Q3 24,330
1985 Q4 20,567
1986 Q1 19,342
1986 Q2 24,418
1986 Q3 26,207
1986 Q4 29,376
1987 Q1 34,688
1987 Q2 40,609
1987 Q3 42,535
1987 Q4 34,199
1988 Q1 32,999
1988 Q2 42,478
1988 Q3 47,242
1988 Q4 38,815
1989 Q1 40,480
1989 Q2 51,095
1989 Q3 53,775
1989 Q4 46,166
1990 Q1 43,297
1990 Q2 60,119
1990 Q3 62,927
1990 Q4 50,081
1991 Q1 51,621
1991 Q2 56,753
1991 Q3 54,876
1991 Q4 69,526
1992 Q1 56,579
1992 Q2 63,300
1992 Q3 70,126
1992 Q4 64,851
1993 Q1 62,298
1993 Q2 69,615
1993 Q3 71,534
1993 Q4 53,307
1994 Q1 50,665
1994 Q2 59,854
1994 Q3 66,559
1994 Q4 47,317
1995 Q1 50,904
1995 Q2 55,958
1995 Q3 58,259
1995 Q4 47,754
1996 Q1 51,288
1996 Q2 60,177
1996 Q3 62,750
1996 Q4 51,846
1997 Q1 52,844
1997 Q2 57,417
1997 Q3 60,845
1997 Q4 44,928
1998 Q1 42,813
1998 Q2 45,873
1998 Q3 47,317
1998 Q4 38,181
1999 Q1 40,153
1999 Q2 47,543
1999 Q3 53,841
1999 Q4 48,434
2000 Q1 45,564
2000 Q2 57,871
2000 Q3 66,518
2000 Q4 57,476
2001 Q1 58,485
2001 Q2 70,048
2001 Q3 69,951
2001 Q4 52,154
2002 Q1 61,589
2002 Q2 72,711
2002 Q3 52,919
2002 Q4 41,830
2003 Q1 45,558
2003 Q2 58,863
2003 Q3 63,340
2003 Q4 53,588
2004 Q1 54,914
2004 Q2 67,241
2004 Q3 65,579
2004 Q4 48,090
2005 Q1 56,438
2005 Q2 74,471
2005 Q3 75,945
2005 Q4 55,386
2006 Q1 55,134
2006 Q2 67,909
2006 Q3 70,356
2006 Q4 58,245
2007 Q1 47,875
2007 Q2 61,649
2007 Q3 71,657
2007 Q4 55,573
2008 Q1 53,145
2008 Q2 69,247
2008 Q3 71,312
2008 Q4 53,543
2009 Q1 50,783
2009 Q2 69,651
2009 Q3 75,390
2009 Q4 56,353
2010 Q1 58,041
2010 Q2 80,797
2010 Q3 84,292
2010 Q4 57,552
2011 Q1 49,568
2011 Q2 67,694
2011 Q3 71,876
2011 Q4 59,608
2012 Q1 55,587
2012 Q2 73,044
2012 Q3 66,927
2012 Q4 62,334
2013 Q1 58,256
2013 Q2 75,639
2013 Q3 65,338
2013 Q4 59,789
2014 Q1 64,472
2014 Q2 78,307
2014 Q3 65,588
2014 Q4 52,044
2015 Q1 51,124
2015 Q2 72,088
2015 Q3 78,895
2015 Q4 69,730
2016 Q1 86,201
2016 Q2 86,106
2016 Q3 68,241

Wildfire in northern Alberta

Over the summer, the wildfire in Alberta's Fort McMurray area not only affected many people and businesses in the region, but also had an impact on the Canadian economy as a whole. Among the many industries affected, the non-conventional oil extraction industry declined markedly in May, leading to a contraction in the overall economy.

A total of 7.6 million work hours were lost in Fort McMurray, while 2.2 million hours were lost in the rest of Alberta as a result of the wildfire and subsequent evacuation.

Chart 2 - Non-conventional oil extraction
Description of Chart 2
Chart 2 - Non-conventional oil extraction
  Gross domestic product in billions of chained (2007) dollars
Note: The non-conventional oil extraction industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in producing crude oil from surface shales or tar sands, or from reservoirs containing semi-solid hydrocarbons.
Source: Statistics Canada, CANSIM table 379-0031.
May 2011 25.799
June 2011 27.707
July 2011 28.712
August 2011 29.300
September 2011 29.564
October 2011 28.801
November 2011 28.851
December 2011 29.116
January 2012 30.411
February 2012 29.739
March 2012 27.715
April 2012 29.488
May 2012 30.820
June 2012 30.224
July 2012 30.583
August 2012 30.489
September 2012 30.223
October 2012 30.695
November 2012 29.592
December 2012 31.101
January 2013 30.935
February 2013 30.795
March 2013 31.655
April 2013 30.767
May 2013 29.389
June 2013 30.358
July 2013 30.995
August 2013 32.826
September 2013 32.098
October 2013 32.953
November 2013 33.979
December 2013 33.806
January 2014 33.459
February 2014 33.412
March 2014 34.137
April 2014 34.638
May 2014 34.829
June 2014 35.409
July 2014 34.267
August 2014 33.907
September 2014 35.785
October 2014 37.082
November 2014 35.457
December 2014 35.074
January 2015 37.080
February 2015 38.907
March 2015 37.370
April 2015 35.268
May 2015 35.478
June 2015 36.757
July 2015 40.352
August 2015 40.530
September 2015 36.169
October 2015 37.785
November 2015 38.737
December 2015 38.705
January 2016 39.534
February 2016 38.886
March 2016 38.448
April 2016 35.332
May 2016 27.686

First increase in crime in 12 years

In 2016, Statistics Canada announced that crime was up for the first time in 12 years. According to police-reported data, both crime severity and the crime rate increased in 2015. Almost 1.9 million Criminal Code incidents (excluding traffic violations) were reported, up by about 70,000 compared with 2014.

Despite the increases, the crime rate was down 29% from 2005, while crime severity was 31% lower.

New measures to track inflation

In November 2016, Statistics Canada presented three additional measures to track inflation. These new measures—Consumer Price Index (CPI)-trim (trimmed mean), CPI-median (weighted median) and CPI-common (common component)—replaced the core index and will be used by the Bank of Canada to obtain a more comprehensive view of inflation in Canada.

The new measures will

  • track long-term movements in inflation more closely
  • capture persistent trends in inflation
  • reflect underlying inflation factors.

Retail e-sales growing in strength

In response to increasing demand for data on e-commerce, Statistics Canada released new data on retail e-sales in November 2016. These data represent Internet sales made by Canada-based store retailers, as well as non-store retailers in the electronic shopping and mail-order houses industry.

Retail e-sales totalled $958 million (not seasonally adjusted) in September, representing 2.1% of all retail sales in Canada. Store retailers accounted for 57% of these sales, and non-store retailers for 43%.

Pilot survey on children's physical and mental health

In October 2016, Statistics Canada conducted the pilot version of its new Canadian Health Survey on Children and Youth. The agency worked with Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada to develop this survey, which collects data on the physical and mental health of children under the age of 12.

Among topics covered are children's physical and sedentary activities, the use of electronic devices, nutrition, time spent in school and extracurricular activities.

Survey results will be used to provide information for program development and assessment, and to support research on children. Statistics Canada plans to release the national results in the fall of 2017.

Reinstatement of the University and College Academic Staff System

In September 2016, Statistics Canada relaunched its University and College Academic Staff System (UCASS). This survey provides data on full-time academic staff, including their gender, age, principal subject taught, academic rank, salary and administrative stipends, and province or country of degrees earned.

This survey, which was conducted annually from 1937 to 2011, was discontinued in 2012. However, because of continued demand for UCASS data, the survey was reinstated. Collection for 2016 data began in September 2016 and the first results are expected in April 2017. Statistics Canada is also in the process of obtaining information for the period from 2012 to 2015.

More analysis

Statistics Canada increased its analytical heft in 2016, releasing a number of analytical articles on the socioeconomic conditions of Indigenous people and immigrants in Canada, as well as on youth employment.

In 2016, the agency released a number of analytical articles and reports on Indigenous people, covering topics such as health and mental health, living arrangements, victimization and literacy. The agency also released analytical articles and reports on immigration in Canada, with subjects ranging from employment and earnings to immigrants' sense of belonging and social integration.

Statistics Canada also took a look at youth employment, releasing the article Perspectives on the Youth Labour Market in Canada in December 2016. Looking beyond the employment rate, the article discussed the characteristics of youth employment over a 40-year span, giving a more complete picture of the labour market for young people.

Finding new ways to interact with data

Statistics Canada jumped right into the innovation pool this year, expanding its use of data visualization tools. In the interest of providing more regional trade data, we developed three interactive tools to help users analyze our new regional trade database, which measured trade across 30 greater economic regions from 2004 to 2012.

The tools help users visualize regional interconnectedness and trade flows, with each tool presenting a different aspect of trade. Users can now obtain trade data for regions such as the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area, the Edmonton region, and interior British Columbia.

Statistics Canada's aspirations did not stop with the development of exciting new visual tools. In October 2016 the agency launched a pilot project to examine the feasibility of collecting information through crowdsourcing. The agency adopted the crowdsourcing platform OpenStreetMap to map buildings across Canada using aerial view maps.

An aerial view of the Parliament buildings in Ottawa through the OpenStreetMap interface. Different parts of the Parliament buildings and their surroundings are labelled.

Source: OpenStreetMap.

Canada currently has no national statistics on buildings or their characteristics. Obtaining this information will help communities and governments make sound and informed decisions about infrastructure in Canada.

The project is still in its pilot phase and is limited to Ottawa–Gatineau for now. People living in Canada can sign onto the mapping platform and help identify buildings, streets and areas in their neighbourhood. Participating is easy. Users can access the OpenStreetMap application from our website.

Looking to 2017 and beyond

With ongoing, incremental changes to its programs and technology, Statistics Canada continues its evolution as a national organization that can respond to the demands of a socially complex, digitally connected age. The agency is constantly testing new ideas and learning from the world.

The most highly anticipated activity of 2017 is the release of 2016 Census data. Canadians will get to see the results of the most precise headcount in the country, along with vast amounts of data on who we are, what we do, where we live and how we live.

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