Statement by Statistics Canada on report from the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

December 10, 2019 – Ottawa, ON – Statistics Canada

Today, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) provided Statistics Canada with its assessment of the design of the financial transaction pilot and credit information projects, and provided recommendations for improving these programs. This will enable us to further strengthen our rigorous procedures and systems that protect the privacy of Canadians.

Statistics Canada would like to thank the Privacy Commissioner for his input. We are committed to working in partnership with the OPC and with world-leading statisticians in a transparent manner for the benefits of Canadians as we chart the path forward.

We want to be clear that as we evolve and modernize the ways we collect data, respecting and protecting the rightful privacy of Canadians will always sit at the heart of everything we do.

National statistical offices contribute directly to the information systems of democratic societies. Statistics Canada's sole mandate is to serve governments and Canadians with impartial data about the economic, demographic, social and environmental situation.

For more than 100 years, we have collected data from governments, businesses and Canadian citizens to help us understand our country for the purpose of public good. Without this data, Canadians would not understand labour market outcomes of post-secondary graduates, be able to track inequalities in health, know how many seniors are living below the poverty line and need social assistance, or have timely information on crop yields for farmers.

The data we gather are used to inform important decisions about government policies, social programs and our economy. Like many national statistical offices around the world, our challenge today is to find new ways to provide insightful and timely information to Canadians in an increasingly digital and complex world, without further burdening citizens, while addressing evolving societal expectations around privacy. Statistics Canada is working actively with statistical, academic and business experts from around the world, as well as the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, to develop new statistical methods rooted in the principles of necessity and proportionality.

Together with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, this collaboration will enable us to chart a new approach for the way forward. As our modernization progresses, we commit to keeping Canadians informed.

Canadians have sent a clear signal that they expect more transparency about why and how we collect and protect their information. Statistics Canada will be more transparent about our programs and the ways in which we collect, process and store data. To demonstrate this, we are providing accessible information about our survey and data collection on our recently launched Trust Centre website dedicated to addressing questions from Canadians.

We are also working with the members of the Canadian Statistics Advisory Council. This Council provides the agency with impartial and independent advice on matters concerning the overall quality of Canada's national statistical system, and will help ensure that Statistics Canada remains one of the world's top statistical agencies.

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