Canadian Statistics Advisory Council (CSAC) Virtual Meeting - May 21, 2021

Friday, May 21, 2021


CSAC Members Attendance

Dr. Howard Ramos (Chairperson), Gurmeet Ahluwalia, Anil Arora, David Chaundy, Annette Hester, Jan Kestle, Gail Mc Donald, Dr. Michael Wolfson

CSAC Members Regrets

Dr. Celine Le Bourdais

Statistics Canada

Lynn Barr-Telford, Pierre Desrochers, Stephane Dufour, Jacques Fauteux, Melanie Forsberg, Monia Lahaie, Andre Loranger, Greg Peterson, Martin St-Yves, Geoff Bowlby, Christine Leger, Andrea Levett

Innovation, Science and Industry

Steven Schwendt

Meeting Agenda

Meeting agenda for meeting on Friday, May 21, 2021
Time Agenda Item Lead Participant(s)
13:00 – 13:15 Chairperson Introductory Remarks Howard Ramos
CSAC Chairperson
13:15 – 13:45 Update from the Chief Statistician and Roundtable Discussion Anil Arora
Chief Statistician of Canada
CSAC members
All Assistant Chief Statisticians
13:45 – 13:50 Health Break  
13:50 – 14:35 Update on Census and Roundtable Discussion Stephane Dufour
Assistant Chief Statistician
Jacques Fauteux
Assistant Chief Statistician
Briefing on Census
25 minutes
Lynn Barr-Telford
Assistant Chief Statistician

Geoff Bowlby
Director General

Discussion and Q&A
20 minutes
Christine Leger
Andrea Levett
Assistant Director
14:35 – 14:40 Health Break  
14:40 – 15:10 Update on Working Groups and Roundtable Discussion  
Update from Working group
15 minutes
Jan Kestle CSAC member and Working Group 1 lead
Update on working group 2
5 minutes
Celine Le Bourdais CSAC member and Working Group 2 lead
Update on working group 3
5 minutes
Annette Hester CSAC member  and Working Group 3 lead
Round Table Feedback from Assistant Chief Statisticians All Assistant Chief Statisticians
15:10 – 15:15 Health Break  
15:15 – 16:00 Update on the annual report
In Camera
CSAC members

Meeting Minutes

1. Chairperson Opening Remarks

Dr. Ramos kicked off the meeting by welcoming participants.

He provided progress updates on:

  • the three council working groups i.e., Enabling Role of Statistics Canada, Data Spine/ Data Core and Data Gaps
  • the development of the 2021 annual Council report
  • key meetings he recently attended in his capacity as Council Chairperson

Dr. Ramos took the opportunity to thank the Chief Statistician and all the Assistant Chief Statisticians and their teams for their support and work towards the Council. He concluded his remarks with an overview of the meeting agenda and expected outcomes.

2. Update from the Chief Statistician and Roundtable Discussion

The Chief Statistician welcomed meeting participants. He reiterated the importance of the Council's advice and its impact on the agency's service to Canadians within the current operating context. He provided an overview of recent progress and accomplishments by the agency.

He highlighted some federal Budget 2021 investments and the path forward for the agency to obtain funding and implement the initiatives. This includes:

  • a Disaggregated Data Action Plan to help the agency achieve better insights and decisions for a more equitable Canada, by collecting, analyzing, and disseminating disaggregated data
  • funding for a Census of the Environment to help enumerate the extent and characteristics of Canada's ecosystems, providing a geospatial link to human activity; proposals sponsored by other federal departments (i.e. health-care experience and correlates, justice data modernization, COVID-19 surge capacity, data linkage of gender-based violence, Indigenous statistical capacity development, sexual and reproductive health, rural economic development, federal jurisdiction workplace survey and indicators on adaptation to climate change)
  • funding to better integrate quality of life measurements into decision-making
  • funding to support a data lab developed in conjunction with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce

The Chief Statistician provided an overview of progress on Census 2021, thanking his team for positive results to date and on planned operations going forward.

He also informed the Council of the completion of the review of Statistics Canada's Policy on Official Release. The Chief Statistician thanked Dr. Ramos, the Council's Chairperson and the Chairs of the agency's Departmental Audit Committee and Advisory Committee on Ethics and Microdata Access for their guidance and advice on this review.

Before inviting participants to a roundtable discussion, the Chief Statistician highlighted recent innovative and noteworthy work at Statistics Canada. This includes, winning two federal government innovation awards; reaching 1800 members nationally via the agency's Data Science Network and collaborating with Apolitical, a global learning platform for public servants, to deliver a Data Literacy Bootcamp pilot targeting municipal government learners. He also touched on an ongoing review of the Statistics Act for possible enhancements to better align the legislation to the digital reality. The agency continues to produce an alternate Consumer Price Index measure, using a basket adjusted to changing consumer spending, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As well, the Chief Statistician indicated that the agency maintains support to national contact tracing and follow-up efforts on behalf of provinces, territories and public health units. He thanked his Assistant Chief Statisticians for their support and good work.

3. Update on Census and Roundtable Discussion

Dr. Ramos invited Statistics Canada Assistant Chief Statisticians to provide updates to Council members on the Census, touching on communications and engagement, operations and census content.

Council members congratulated the agency for a creative communications and engagement campaign and for the hard work in coordinating Census operations. Council members and the Census program teams discussed engagement, next steps and Council members shared the positive feedback they received within their respective networks.

4. Update on Working Groups and Roundtable Discussion

Dr. Ramos invited Council working groups to offer updates on the progress of working groups to date.

Working Group 1 – Enabling Statistics Canada is exploring how to enable Statistics Canada through legislation, by providing input to the revisions of the Statistics Act. It includes CSAC members, Jan Kestle (lead), David Chaundy, Gail Mc Donald and Dr. Howard Ramos. Ms. Kestle reported that the group made a presentation to other members of the Council and received positive feedback, which it will incorporate. Ms. Kestle thanked the agency for support in better understanding the Act and related privacy issues and for the opportunity to engage some Indigenous community representatives on key issues and how to look at the Statistics Act in relations to those issues. Over the summer, the group will reconvene to advance its work.

Working Group 2 – Data Spine/ Data Core is focusing on data stewardship and governance. Group members are Dr. Celine Le Bourdais (lead), Gurmeet Ahluwalia, Dr. Howard Ramos and Dr. Michael Wolfson. Dr. Ramos provided an update on behalf of the group. He thanked the agency for informative briefings to the working group session, on the agency's data analytics as a service, to enable the delivery of business capabilities in a more agile, responsive manner and on the Virtual data lab, a more flexible approach to data access. He noted that the information will inform the development of the Council's annual report.

Working Group 3 – Data Gaps will look at data and systemic gaps. Group members are Annette Hester (lead), Celine Le Bourdais, Dr. Gail Mc Donald, Dr. Howard Ramos, and Dr. Michael Wolfson. Ms. Hester reported that the group held a kick-off meeting. She offered preliminary observations from conversations with Statistics Canada officials, which revealed a need for more foresight and a longer-term outlook in relations to addressing data gaps. The working group is developing recommendations in that area, including systemic causes, such as jurisdictional issues.

In his capacity as Council Chairperson, Dr. Ramos emphasized the importance of focusing on the impact members want to achieve for the working groups and their recommendations. He noted the complementary nature of the three working groups, the opportunity to work collaboratively across the groups.

In closing this segment, Dr. Ramos invited Council members and Statistics Canada Assistant Chief Statisticians to provide comments on progress to date. He thanked participants for all their contributions.

5. Update on the annual report

This segment of the meeting was an in camera portion where members discussed next steps for the Council.

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