Accountability under the Statistics Act

The Act to amend the Statistics Act received Royal Assent on December 12, 2017. The Statistics Act now makes provisions for transparent decisions on statistical matters, such as the requirement to publish in advance the survey questions that will be requested from Canadians on a mandatory basis. In this spirit of transparency, Statistics Canada is also committed to making more information available about the use of its authority under the Act, such as entering into data sharing agreements.

Mandatory surveys

Under the Act, the Chief Statistician has the authority to approve the collection of information on a mandatory basis.

This approach to survey collection is adopted only when thorough analysis by Statistics Canada demonstrates that mandatory survey participation is the best means to attain the quality and precision levels required to provide Canadians with accurate measures of the state of the country’s economy and society.

New mandatory surveys authorized by the Chief Statistician since December 12, 2017:

Other surveys and statistical programs

Under the Statistics Act, new statistical surveys are voluntary unless otherwise decided as per the provisions described above.

Statistics Canada conducts over 350 surveys and statistical programs on an ongoing basis to measure and report on the state of Canada’s economy and society. Statistics Canada has been and continues to conduct mandatory surveys because of their impact on the economy and society.

Data sharing

To reduce the burden on respondents by avoiding the duplication of surveys by different organizations, Statistics Canada sometimes enters into sharing agreements with federal or provincial government departments, and with other organizations. Statistics Canada has active agreements with a little over 100 organizations.

Whenever this is done, Statistics Canada must inform respondents, at the time of collection, if a data sharing agreement applies to the information they provide and with which organization their information will be shared. When sharing of information is done under Section 12 of the Statistics Act, in most situations, respondents have the right to refuse that Statistics Canada share their information with another organization.

Each organization receiving data from Statistics Canada has agreed to use the data for statistical purposes only and to comply with specific terms and conditions, with regard to the access, confidentiality and security of the information they received. Refer to receiving organizations obligations and duties.

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