Modernizing to serve Canadians

Release date: August 8, 2019

Modernizing to serve Canadians - Transcript

(The Statistics Canada symbol and Canada wordmark appear on screen with the title: "Modernizing to serve Canadians")

Hello, my name is Anil Arora and I'm the Chief Statistician of Canada.

Today, I am happy to have the opportunity to discuss Statistics Canada's journey toward modernization and its contributions to the development of statistical standards and robust methodologies on an international scale.

In practically the blink of an eye, we have become dependent on a digital way of life. We routinely now transfer money by texting. We use an app to order food or even buy a coffee using our iPhone. We make purchases from retailers located on the other side of town or the other side of the world using our computers, tablets and mobile devices. These effortless transactions create links between us, our financial institutions and sellers.

(Onscreen text – Driver for change)

These technological advancements are a driver for change in both our society and our national statistical agency.

As consumers, policy-makers, or entrepreneurs, we are living at a time when technology is spreading this digital reality to more areas of the economy and our society.

(Onscreen text – Adapting & innovating)

That's why Statistics Canada is adapting and innovating to support a data-driven society and economy.

(Onscreen text – Modernization)

We have been talking about modernization for some time now at Statistics Canada because it's what propels us forward. It puts us in a better position to respond to the changes around us.

(Onscreen text – If we don't change too, we risk being left behind, or worse: becoming obsolete or irrelevant)

Because if we don't change too, we risk being left behind, or worse: becoming obsolete or irrelevant. I don't think a weakened Statistical system here in Canada or elsewhere would serve our populations well.

(Onscreen text – Protecting privacy)

Let me be clear — one thing that will never change is our commitment to ensuring confidentiality and protecting the privacy of our citizens. Statistics Canada's duty to safeguard the data provided to us extends beyond survey respondents. It is being integrated into every operations and management practice here at Statistics Canada. We're exploring and applying innovative ways to take care of the data that we collect in order to fulfill this important role, a role we take very seriously.

Our commitment to modernization is a long-term journey, and we continue to look for areas for improvement. Our goal is to maintain our position as a global leader in official statistics.

Most national statistical offices are undergoing some degree of modernization given the changing data ecosystem and our unique contacts. I hope that by sharing our journey to creating a contemporary national statistical office, you will find something that resonates with you.

(Onscreen text – A second driver of change)

(Onscreen text – More important than ever)

(Onscreen text – Trusted, reliable and recognized sources of high quality data)

A second driver of change is that we are living in a time when "fake news" and "alternative facts" are used daily to describe news reporting, a time when it is more important than ever to cultivate and maintain trusted, reliable and recognized sources of high-quality data and insights. That is the impetus behind modernization.

We have to remember that modernization is not a race to stay relevant — it's a journey. And that journey is happening at a quickening pace because of the competition we are all facing.

National statistical offices; we no longer have a monopoly on data — other organizations produce data as well. The world is crowded with information — some of it good and some of it is unknown.

(Onscreen text – The best information)

National statistical offices like Statistics Canada have to continue giving our citizens the best, most robust information that is possible.

(Onscreen text – Our mandate)

(Onscreen text – Our goal)

(Onscreen text – The reason for our existence)

That is our mandate, that's our goal and that is the reason for our existence. Canadians and other elected representatives need to make decisions now, in real time, and we want to give them the timely, necessary data they need to make good informed decisions.

This demand for faster access to our information, coupled with declining response rates and the need for more granular data is the third driver of change. We have now reached a point where we need to rethink how we do things.

We're maintaining a steady pace. But with data, if you're not moving ahead, you're lagging behind.

(Onscreen text – We must keep challenging ourselves)

Meeting Canadians' needs is our job, and given the changing world we live in, we must keep challenging ourselves, we must keep pushing ourselves further. We have to use new alternative sources to complement — and sometimes supplement — our surveys. We must be cost-effective and we must maximize our strengths. We need to work as a team, with other government departments and private sector who are producing data. They can and will be partners at reaching these goals.

We are modernizing our approach by collecting new and existing data in innovative ways.

(Onscreen text – Administrative data, crowdsourcing, web scraping, open data, and microdata linkages)

(Onscreen text – Just to name a few modernization initiatives)

We are using administrative data, crowdsourcing, web scraping, open data, and microdata linkages, just to name a few modernization initiatives.

These take many forms here at Statistics Canada.

To respond to the Government of Canada's need for one comprehensive source of housing information for example, we developed the Canadian Housing Statistics Program.

There was a need for information about clean technology as Canada transitions to a carbon-free economy, so we created the Carbon Measurement Strategy.

International Tourism Growth Measures are based on administrative data rather than survey data to better track tourism and its changing nature in Canada.

We launched the Cannabis Statistics program ahead of the legalization of cannabis in 2018 to identify information needs and develop different ways of gathering and processing this most sensitive of data.

We took advantage of new data sources to create the Open Database of Buildings, a free database which uses open data and community-led mapping to create a harmonized repository of approximately 4.3 million building footprints in this country.

New Data Service Centres offer on-site statistical services, increased data access, and statistical training and capacity building for Canadians — all to better meet our needs today and into the future.

Finally, the Transparency and Accountability module on Statistics Canada's home page, now focuses on Statistics Canada's commitment to openness and transparency to Canadians. It features subjects such as privacy and confidentiality provisions, accountability under the Statistics Act, corporate management reporting, and our publications and information holdings.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development added another layer of complexity to an already intricate data ecosystem. Within Canada, we have built partnerships with the private sector and civil society to harness more quality data. We are also building stronger relationships with other government departments as we work together to produce data on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. All of these activities have the added benefit of strengthening both national and international statistical systems.

We've consulted with our population, with Canadians and heard them loud and clear. They want better quality data. They want it faster and they want more of it. And they want them in an easy to access mechanism. So we have changed how we deliver services and how we provide data to attract a wider audience.

(Onscreen text – Modernization is one of main priorities)

Modernization is one of our main priorities here at Statistics Canada.

(Onscreen text – It's at the heart of excellence)

It's at the heart of excellence, and it is guiding our work into the future.

(Onscreen text – Timely, statistically representative and relevant)

(Onscreen text – To the world we all live in today)

As always, we will make sure that the information we provide is timely, statistically representative and relevant to the world we all live in today. And one thing that will never change again is our commitment to ensuring confidentiality and protecting private information.

(Onscreen text – Statistics Canada modernizing to serve Canadians)

(Canada wordmark appears.)

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