Statistics Canada and disaggregated data

Responding to data needs during COVID-19

COVID-19 has had unprecedented impacts on Canadians, and particularly on the most vulnerable populations. To understand these impacts, disaggregated data are needed for visible minority populations, immigrants, seniors, Indigenous people and other vulnerable populations.

Statistics Canada has enhanced crowdsourcing survey instruments, and used them to collect key information for vulnerable populations—including immigrants, Indigenous people and visible minority groups—when there are sufficient responses from Canadians to do so. We are thankful to Canadians for participating in these important initiatives. Moving forward, as of July 2020, the Labour Force Survey will include a question on visible minority status.

Statistics Canada is also transforming data into key insights and disseminating new findings on a daily basis through its COVID-19 hub, with an increased focus on the unique experiences of different population groups.

Investments in disaggregated data prior to COVID-19

Prior to COVID-19, the government recognized the importance of filling gaps in disaggregated data and took steps to address this matter. The pandemic has made these gaps more apparent and has increased the urgency to address them.

In 2018/2019, the government allocated $6.7 million in funding over five years, with $600,000 thereafter, to create the Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics (CGDIS). The goal of the CGDIS is to support evidence-based policy and program development by monitoring and reporting on gender, diversity and inclusion. In addition to this funding, Statistics Canada received $4.2 million in 2019/2020 for four distinct activities, as part of Canada's Anti-Racism Strategy.

Statistics Canada continues to work with its federal, provincial and territorial counterparts to develop ways to paint a more complete picture of the situation.

2018/2019: Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics

Accomplishments to date

  • The CGDIS launched the Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics Hub, which focuses on disaggregated data by gender and other identities to support evidence-based policy development and decision making. The hub is a centralized platform to provide support to departments as they prepare advice for ministers and develop evidence-based policy.
  • To monitor progress on the Government of Canada's Gender Results Framework, the CGDIS released 29 indicator tables, disaggregated by gender and other identities. These indicators are used to inform Canadians about Canada's progress in achieving gender equality.
  • The CGDIS has undertaken work to support the collection of disaggregated data for the LGBTQ2 population. For example, a new gender standard was developed. This gender standard was included on the 2019 Census Test and is currently being used in many social surveys. It allows Statistics Canada to better report on Canada's gender-diverse population and ensures that Statistics Canada's data reflect the realities of the Canadian population. The CGDIS is also developing a new standard for disaggregating data based on sexual orientation.
  • A number of articles and infographics—including four products highlighting new disaggregated data on Black communities in Canada—have been published to address key policy needs and to raise awareness about issues related to gender, diversity and inclusion. An example of this type of product, "A socioeconomic portrait of Canada's Black population," can be found in the February 25, 2020, edition of The Daily.
  • Existing data sources have been used in new and innovative ways to explore gender equality. This includes, for example, an analysis of diversity on boards of directors and an analysis of business ownership by gender in Canada.
  • It is impossible to have reliable information on gender, diversity and inclusion in Canada without strong statistical standards that clearly define the concepts being measured. Statistics Canada plays a leading role in ensuring that strong standards are developed and adopted as part of the national statistical system. This includes making available statistical standards for collecting disaggregated data. The July 24, 2020, edition of The Daily "Tested and trusted statistical standards" explores how statistical standards are used to provide data insights on a particular topic to help individuals understand and interpret those data.

2019/2020: Canada's Anti-Racism Strategy

Four distinct activities

  • Expansion of the 2020 General Social Survey (GSS) on Social Identity: This project entails increasing the sample size of the GSS on Social Identity. This will allow for more targeted policy analysis with respect to the experiences of certain ethnocultural groups for most provinces and provincial regions of Canada. Data collection for the new cycle of the GSS on Social Identity started last August and will be completed in December 2020.
  • Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) experimentation: This project will examine potential changes proposed to the UCR Survey to collect more than one motivation that may contribute to hate crimes.
  • Supporting the new Expert Advisory Committee on Ethnocultural and Immigration Statistics: This project engages an external expert advisory committee over three years to guide and advise Statistics Canada in developing a conceptual framework on ethnocultural diversity and inclusion, and in developing groups of indicators to track inclusion over time.
  • Social, economic and justice analytical products: This project will provide statistical analyses of new and existing inclusion and exclusion data to better understand the lived experiences of specific communities within Canada, including ethnocultural groups, in the areas of socioeconomic participation and the justice system. Work is already underway to improve information on hate crimes by linking police data to courts data.

Moving forward

Although much has been done, the pandemic has also underlined the importance of collaboration between organizations and across jurisdictions to address the growing demands for more disaggregated data on the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic.

For Statistics Canada to provide more disaggregated information for population groups, the data must first be collected in a standardized way to allow for meaningful comparisons. A sufficient volume of data must also be collected to enable these comparisons.

For surveys, when data are collected directly from Canadians, Statistics Canada is exploring areas where larger sample sizes are needed to produce disaggregated information. Data held by other partners and jurisdictions could also be shared with Statistics Canada transparently, with privacy and confidentiality protections, to make a more integrated picture of population groups and their experiences available.

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