Archived – Communicating the Stories Behind the Data

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Catalogue number: Catalogue number: 11-629-x


Release date: July 19, 2012
Communicating the Stories Behind the Data - Transcript

Description of visuals

Hello, my name is Wayne Smith. I am the Chief Statistician of Canada.

Around the world, people use official statistics every day to make evidence-based decisions—about their lives, their businesses, their country.

National statistical organizations play an important role in that respect. Not only are we responsible for the accurate measurement of the economy and society, but also for providing unbiased information to give citizens a broad perspective on their country. And while that is a lot, it is not enough. It is also our job to put the data in the hands of citizens – to give unencumbered access on multiple channels to as many people as we can, and to support them in using, analyzing, and republishing that information.

Canadians place their trust in Statistics Canada every time they complete a paper questionnaire, answer questions from an interviewer or complete their census online. They trust us to apply the best statistical methods and data analysis techniques to publish reliable and timely information. They trust our information. And that trust has been built over time — with a rigorous approach to dissemination.

We publish release dates in advance, and we give equal treatment to all citizens by releasing all new data sets and analyses through The Daily, our official release bulletin. We have published it every business day without fail for 80 years, and on the web since 1995.

We rely heavily on traditional news media to ensure that our data are widely seen, known, and used.

The Daily is the major entry point for journalists. The texts are written like news stories. On release day, subject-matter analysts are on call for the media. And our media hotline receives about 2,000 requests every year.

We track the newspapers and the electronic media to see how our information is used, and the numbers show that they rely heavily on Statistics Canada for solid facts.

Our website is the main venue for Canadians to get open access to our information. In fact, close to 20 million visitors come to our site every year. Over 100,000 Canadians also email or telephone our National Contact Centre to seek expert support.

Their level of engagement with Statistics Canada is remarkable. In the 2011 Census, the collection response rate reached 98.1%, a very impressive result. An even more impressive result is the fact that over 84% of Canadians responded without any intervention by Statistic Canada's staff, the highest self response rate in Canadian census history. We witness daily Canadians' high-level of interest in using our information. This results from years of building partnerships with communities and establishing bridges with users through various channels.

The Census is helping communities across the country. Census data are used to make decisions on roads and urban transit to plan services such as daycare centres and schools, to develop income support programs, and much more. Throughout the census cycle, we work with community organizations, local governments and associations to seek their support for collection, and to keep them informed about data releases. Over 6,000 groups were active supporters of the 2011 Census.

Through the Community Outreach Program, our analysts meet local businesses and groups to address their specialized data needs. Our regional offices also conduct seminars to teach Canadians how to use statistical information.

We engage with Canadians in the same social media that they visit every day. We produce YouTube videos and use Twitter and Facebook to increase the visibility of data releases. For the first time, our demographers held live, web-based chat sessions to answer questions about the results of the 2011 Census.

The role of national statistical organizations goes beyond communicating the stories behind the numbers. It is our job to make the data known, make it fully accessible, encourage re-use, and support users along the way.

I like to think that Statistics Canada enjoys high esteem among national statistical organizations. However, it is the trust of researchers, analysts, economists, social organizations, academics, governments, community groups and citizens that every employee here takes pride in. Canadians know that they can count on Statistics Canada for reliable, timely, relevant and unbiased information that is fully accessible to everyone.

This is the work we do to support evidence- based decision-making across our society, to support Canadian democracy.

This is what our national statistical office does for our country.

(The image fades into the Canada wordmark against a black background.)

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