Kids go through a phase where they love to classify. Quartz rocks get piled with quartz rocks. Amethysts go in another pile. Limestone and shale go elsewhere. Then, they tally how many rocks are in each pile.
Statistics Canada does somewhat the same exercise on a much grander scale. As data arrive from surveys or census or administrative sources (bits gathered by other departments or agencies), the data are sorted into piles. Sub-piles and special tabulations follow.
But who decides what data go into which pile? Enter Standards Division.
From big-ticket items, like health insurance and education, to the annoying pothole at the end of the street, the way that governments collect and spend money touches all Canadians.
Statistics Canada has been tracking the ins and outs of government finance, stretching back to before the days of the Dominion Bureau of Statistics. As Canadian society became more complex, Statistics Canada grew more sophisticated at measuring government finances, adjusting accounting methods, fine-tuning and tracking.
More than 21 million visitors check out the StatCan website each year. We are looking for ways to make life a little simpler for each and every one of them.
As the world of data publishing has evolved, so has the StatCan site, moving quickly from presenting static tables to generating dynamic ones online. Most visitors have followed the changes with relative ease and they can find the information they need. But many visitors have also told us—sometimes loudly—that it is time to rethink how we publish data and to build something simpler.