Disaggregated Data Accomplishments report 2021-22: Better Quality Data for Better Decision Making

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For years, Statistics Canada has been providing Canadians with big picture statistics on a variety of topics impacting people across the country. However, the big picture can hide key differences in the experiences of specific population groups.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how a single event can be experienced differently across various groups, thus revealing pre-existing social and economic inequalities. For pandemic recovery plans and programs to address these differential impacts, Canadians need more detailed data that can be disaggregated, or broken down, into categories such as gender, race, age, income level, or a combination of these and other categories, and at the lowest level of geography possible.

Budget 2021 provided Statistics Canada with $172 million over five years to implement the Disaggregated Data Action Plan (DDAP). This funding supports more representative data collection methods, enhances statistics on diverse populations to allow for intersectional analyses, and supports government and societal efforts to address known inequalities and promote fair and inclusive decision-making.

The DDAP includes data collection, the use of alternative data sources, methods and the development of standards, engagement and collaboration, and the dissemination of results with a current focus on the four employment equity groups: Indigenous peoples, women, racialized populations and persons with disabilities. Where relevant and possible (based on the subject at hand, data confidentiality, privacy and quality considerations), disaggregation will extend to other groups (e.g., sexual orientation, children and youth, seniors, official language, immigrants, low-income Canadians). To better understand the inequalities of diverse population groups, the DDAP adopts a Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) lens to critically analyze all intersecting identity factors.

In the first year of implementation, the agency increased sample sizes for flagship surveys, such as the Labour Force Survey, the Canadian Community Health Survey and the General Social Survey. Increases to sample sizes are also planned for other surveys, such as the Survey on Access to Health Care and Pharmaceuticals During the Pandemic, the Mental Health and Access to Care Survey, and the Canadian Social Survey. Content has also been added to existing and new surveys (Canadian Social Survey, Survey Series on People and their Communities, Canadian Survey on Business Conditions, Census of Population), and administrative data has been linked and integrated to existing data holdings (Canadian Census Health and Environment Cohort) to allow further disaggregation by population group and geography level.

Disaggregated data and analysis for a portion of these surveys is available on Statistics Canada's Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics Hub which serves as a central place to find disaggregated data, intersectional analysis and insights on diverse population groups. An infographic was released to increase awareness and inform the public about the DDAP, its implications, and its expected outcomes.

Statistics Canada continues to consult and collaborate with a wide range of partners to ensure the agency addresses key social and economic issues, and meets the increasing information needs of Canadians. Major achievements include the work done on the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, the General Social Statistics Program, and the development and adoption of data standards.

This section outlines the accomplishments of key projects that were funded under the DDAP in 2021/2022.

New disaggregated data assets

The agency is acquiring new disaggregated data and building data assets by adding new questions and data elements to existing surveys and administrative data programs, creating new surveys, and expanding sample sizes to sufficiently disaggregate data. Examples of what was achieved across various subject areas and key programs are provided below.

Labour Force data

Two major improvements have been made to the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

First, beginning in January 2022, an ongoing series of monthly LFS supplementary surveys was launched. Each month, a short series of supplementary questions was added to the survey to complement the information collected in the main survey questionnaire. Topics addressed include intentions of survey respondents to leave their job, willingness to relocate to find work, and balancing work and family responsibilities. These supplementary questions will be disaggregated to provide a picture of the labour market experiences of diverse groups.

Second, as of April 2022, the agency increased the sample size of the LFS by 25%, with a focus on increasing the sample in Canada's largest municipalities. This has improved information on labour market conditions and increased the ability to examine the labour market experiences of diverse groups, including Indigenous peoples and members of racialized groups. For the first time, Statistics Canada has been able to provide policy makers with employment information for members of racialized communities. Data tables providing estimates of labour force characteristics by racialized population group and region were released in September 2022.

Health indicators

Beginning in September 2021, an additional sample of 50,000 units was added to the Canadian Community Health Survey to allow further disaggregation. The first release with the new sample provides analytical insights into the self-rated mental health (SRMH) among racialized, immigrant, Indigenous and 2SLGBTQI+ populations across Canada during the pandemic.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency was able to collect more detailed data related to the health of Canadians and released more granular results on COVID-19 vaccination intentions, as well as on mental health status.

The Survey on Access to Health Care and Pharmaceuticals During the Pandemic (SAHCPDP) was oversampled for the Indigenous population. The first results showed that over half of First Nations (55%), Métis (53%) and Inuit (63%) adults needing health care services indicated they experienced difficulty accessing health care in the 12 months preceding the survey. The results also showed that the adverse health impacts of experiencing difficulties in accessing health care services were more pronounced among those who identified as a person with a disability or a chronic condition. In November 2022, a study using 2021 data from the SAHCPDP was released in Insights on Canadian Society and focused on prescription coverage and the use of and access to pharmaceuticals. A Daily article and an infographic also accompanied this release. As for the Mental Health and Access to Care Survey (MHACS), the sampling design includes an oversample for four targeted population groups (South Asian, Chinese, Black and Filipino people); collection started in March 2022.

Finally, a new standard table has been added to the annual deaths release to disaggregate cause of death statistics by neighbourhood income level.

Canadian survey on Business data

The Canadian Survey on Business Conditions (CSBC) enables the publication of detailed data and forward-looking analyses on businesses owned by women, racialized groups, immigrants, and Indigenous peoples. From April 2021 to March 2022, the CSBC played a vital role in helping governments understand the key economic issues that businesses were facing. Detailed data are published for all provinces and territories and the 20 largest census metropolitan areas.

General Social Statistics Program

The General Social Statistics (GSS) Program is assessing past methods and recommendations for increasing sample sizes of surveys and for selected population groups. The increase in GSS – Time Use's sample size allowed an urban–rural split, with increases to sample sizes being planned for the GSS – Family and the GSS – Giving, Volunteering and Participating.

New survey content on well-being, shared values and trust has been developed for the Canadian Social Survey (CSS) to produce a larger sample that would supplement the census release on ethnicity.

Additionally, qualitative testing was undertaken with non-responders from the GSS – Social Identity to learn about the challenges that some survey participants experience, and the ways in which these challenges can be addressed to ensure equal opportunity for respondents to participate in Statistics Canada surveys. Through funding from Canada's Anti-Racism Strategy, the GSS – Social Identity had an oversample of six racialized population groups, which allowed for greater data disaggregation.

Disaggregated demographic data

Statistics Canada's Centre for Demography published population projections to 2041 for the following population groups: the total Indigenous population, First Nations people, Métis, Inuit, and Registered or Treaty Indians. A full methodological report and an article show that in 2041, the Indigenous population could represent 5.4% to 6.8% of the Canadian population, up from 5% in 2016. Nunavut and the Atlantic provinces should see the biggest increases, while Yukon and the Northwest Territories should see decreases. The Centre for Demography also produced new population projections and estimates at lower levels of geography, including census metropolitan areas and census divisions.

Census data

Statistics Canada completed the 2021 Census during the pandemic, meeting high quality standards while ensuring safe data collection using new protocols, including a contactless approach. The October 2022 release provided disaggregated population group data to reflect the different combinations of racialized population groups (e.g., Black and South Asian). The 2021 Census also asked Canadians about their military experience for the first time since 1971. With this data, Statistics Canada was able to shed light on the diversity of the veteran and military population.

Analytical insights

In 2021/2022, the agency produced more analytical insights through presentations, research papers and infographics, to provide policy makers, researchers and Canadians with in-depth analysis and detailed statistics. Overall, 46% of analytical products released by Statistics Canada during fiscal year 2021-22 included disaggregated data for at least one of the four employment equity groups (Indigenous peoples, women, people from racialized populations, and people with disabilities). More intersectional and disaggregated analyses will be available as Statistics Canada progresses in the implementation of the DDAP.

Expanded access and dissemination

The Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics (CGDIS) Hub serves as the primary platform for disseminating products and information related to the DDAP and is available to all Canadians. The CGDIS receives DDAP funding to increase functionality and data visualization tools on the hub; promote relevant statistical standards; develop conceptual frameworks and indicators relevant to diverse population groups; and disseminate more disaggregated data, analytical products and actionable insights.

Statistics Canada is also developing a Centre for Municipal and Local Data, which will serve as a primary platform for municipal data users to access data at the level of geography most relevant to municipalities. In that regard, Statistics Canada is expanding its exploratory Canadian Government Finance Statistics (CGFS) for individual municipalities, covering over 35 cities in an effort to disaggregate financial data for municipalities and other local public administrations. The Municipal Finance and Socio-Economic Dashboard integrates these data with socioeconomic indicators and allows for city-level comparisons.

Over the past year, Statistics Canada has continued to monitor progress on the Government of Canada's Gender Results Framework (GRF) and published 29 indicator tables disaggregated by gender (and other identities). The DDAP is helping to further disaggregate the GRF, whose indicators are used to inform Canadians on progress toward achieving gender equality.

Statistical Standards

Over the past year, Statistics Canada has reviewed, developed and published over 100 standards across various domains and has engaged with multiple partners (the Canada Border Services Agency; Correctional Service Canada; Employment and Social Development Canada; Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada; the Public Health Agency of Canada; and Health Canada) in developing strong standards for disaggregated data. These standards include ethnic or cultural origin of person, gender of person, Indigenous identity of person, sex at birth of person and visible minority of person. Key standards under review in fiscal year 2022/2023 include those for racialized populations, disability status, business majority ownership and sexual orientation.

For the 2021 Census, the precision of "at birth" was added to the sex question, and a new question on gender was included. These changes allow all people living in Canada to self-identify through the census. Canada is the first country to collect and publish data on gender diversity from a national census.


The agency is developing an enabling methodological infrastructure that will allow the linkage and integration of more administrative data to existing data holdings and the creation of rich microdata sets that can be disaggregated according to priority categories and at the lowest level of geography possible.

For instance, the Centre for Population Health Data has expanded its data integration analyses to provide more geo-based disaggregated sociodemographic profiling of the people who have been impacted by COVID-19. This was done by linking the 2016 Canadian Census Health and Environment Cohort with updated data from the Discharge Abstract Database, the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System, the Ontario Mental Health Reporting System and the Canadian Vital Statistics – Deaths Database. This dataset was then used to calculate COVID-19 mortality rates among racialized populations (e.g., South Asian, Black and Chinese populations) disaggregated by sex and low-income status. The results were discussed in two articles released in August 2022, one in StatCan COVID-19: Data to Insights for a Better Canada and the other in The Daily.

Engagement and collaboration

On July 15, 2020, Statistics Canada and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police released a joint statement announcing their commitment to work on collecting data on the Indigenous and racialized identity of all victims and accused people through the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey. This initiative, led by the Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics, responds to growing demands to better understand the experiences of First Nations people, Métis, Inuit and people in racialized communities when interacting with the police. An engagement process took place in summer 2021 to winter 2023 to seek feedback from diverse perspectives, including those of Indigenous and racialized organizations and police services. The feedback received led to the development of a report and a series of recommendations on the best way to move forward with this initiative.

The Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics also conducted engagements to better understand the experiences of Indigenous and racialized groups and their interactions and involvement with correctional systems and with the criminal justice system. The results of these engagements contribute to the larger strategy to improve information on this issue.

Statistics Canada is building disaggregated data literacy and analytical capacity within and outside the agency. The CGDIS is responsible for building GBA Plus capacity and awareness within the agency and externally through the development of GBA Plus training for all federal public servants.

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