Archived – Program 1: Economic Statistics

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The Economic Statistics program's purpose is to create a trusted, relevant and comprehensive source of information on the entire spectrum of Canada's economy to inform public debate on economic issues; support economic policy development, implementation and evaluation; and guide business decision making. It is the primary source of information for developing the country's fiscal and monetary policies and for studying the economic evolution of Canadian industries and of regions. The information provides for informed public debate on current economic issues of concern and interest. The outputs are vital to research and to economic policy development, implementation and evaluation by a number of federal departments, such as the Bank of Canada, Finance Canada, Industry Canada, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and Transport Canada, as well as by provincial and territorial governments; and they are extensively used by the private sector for business planning and decision making. The programs' data also support statutory requirements and regulatory instruments. Statistics produced range from gross domestic product, production, costs, sales, productivity and prices for industrial sectors to the flows and stocks of fixed and financial capital assets, international trade and finance, and the extent of foreign ownership in Canada's economy.

Table 1 Financial Resources—Economic Statistics ($ thousands)
This table shows, in thousands of dollars, the total main budgetary expenditure estimates, planned spending, total authorities available for use, actual spending (authorities used) and difference between planned and actual spending for 2012/2013.
Total Budgetary Expenditures (Main Estimates) 2012/2013 Planned Spending 2012/2013 Total Authorities (available for use) 2012/2013 Actual Spending (authorities used) 2012/2013 Difference 2012/2013
174,020 174,020 208,759 195,580 (21,560)
Table 2 Human Resources—Economic Statistics (full-time equivalents)
This table shows, in full-time equivalents, planned and actual resources, and the difference between them for 2012/2013.
Planned 2012/2013 Actual 2012/2013 Difference 2012/2013
2,081 1,816 265
Table 3 Performance Indicators—Economic Statistics
This table displays expected results, performance indicators, targets and actual results.
Expected Results Performance Indicators Footnote 1 Targets Actual Results
Decision-makers and users are informed on the structure, state and evolution of Canada's economy Number of visits to CANSIM 242,000 524,152
Since CANSIM became a free resource in February 2012, the number of visits have increased. Many new tables have been created.
Business surveys using tax/administrative data—number and percentage change Continual increase Number of surveys using tax/administrative data
2008/2009 — 43
2009/2010 — 47
2010/2011 — 47
2011/2012 — 48
2012/2013 — 42

Percentage of surveys using tax/administrative data
2008/2009 — 20
2009/2010 — 22
2010/2011 — 22
2011/2012 — 22
2012/2013 — 20

The target was a continual increase. The number of business and agricultural surveys decreased in 2012/2013. Some of the surveys that are no longer collected were using tax/administrative data.
Number of administrative records used to reduce survey sample sizes Continual increase The number of surveys using administrative data remained unchanged; however, where administrative data are used on a given survey, they are used to a greater extent. The target was a continual increase. From 2011/2012 to 2012/2013, the number of sampled units replaced by administrative data remained unchanged, 309,000.
Index of response burden hours 60 or less Fiscal year
2008/2009 — 72
2009/2010 — 72
2010/2011 — 65
2011/2012 — 65
2012/2013 — 68

The target was 60 or less; the result was 68. This was an increase from 65, the value achieved in each of the two previous years. The increase is attributed to four externally-funded surveys: Survey of Regulatory Compliance Costs; Workplace Survey: Job Vacancies and Skills Shortages; Survey on Financing and Growth of Small and Medium Enterprises; and Farm Environmental Management Survey. Statistics Canada is committed to reducing administrative burden and redundancy of data requests across departments as per the Red Tape Reduction Action Plan.
Percentage of users having obtained what they needed 75% 82%
Number of media mentions 4,000 The target was 4,000 mentions; 3,689 mentions were reported in 2012/2013, which is slightly below target. Some of this is likely due to program reductions—including the discontinuation of the Canadian Composite Leading Indicator and reduced frequency for the Farm Cash Receipts and Net Farm Income releases: these, together, accounted for 114 mentions in 2011/2012.
Number of surveys using electronic data collection Continual increase
2012/2013 benchmark year: 33 surveys
Cumulative actual
2010/2011 — 7
2011/2012 — 16
2012/2013 — 24

Cumulative forecast
2013/2014 — 94
2014/2015 — 126
2015/2016 — 139

In 2012/2013, electronic questionnaire (EQ) deployment for surveys continued to progress as expected. Business surveys continued to progress: the first mission-critical monthly survey, the Business Payrolls Survey, started EQ collection in 2012. At the same time, significant effort was put into preparing for the launch of the Integrated Business Statistics program in 2014, which will use EQ as the collection tool for more than 60 surveys.
Periodicity and timeliness (international comparability) Meet the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) Canada meets all IMF standards for measuring and disseminating national accounts and other economic statistics data, according to the annual report for 2012 on SDDS observance. Canada exceeds timeliness and frequency requirements for most SDDS datasets, in particular those that are the responsibility of Statistics Canada.
Percentage of major economic indicators whose sampling accuracy is within set objectives 95% 2007/2008 — 96.5%
2008/2009 — 95.5%
2009/2010 — 96.0%
2010/2011 — 96.8%
2011/2012 — 95.8%
2012/2013 — 96.8%
Percentage of major economic indicators released as planned 100% 2007/2008 — 100%
2008/2009 — 100%
2009/2010 — 100%
2010/2011 — 100%
2011/2012 — 100%
2012/2013 — 100%
Percentage of statistical outputs corrected after release 2007/2008 < 2.5%
2008/2009 < 2.5%
2009/2010 < 2.5%
2010/2011 < 2.5%
2011/2012 < 2.5%
2012/2013 < 1.5%
2007/2008 — 2.6%
2008/2009 — 1.8%
2009/2010 — 0.4%
2010/2011 — 0.6%
2011/2012 — 0.6%
2012/2013 — 0.3%
Percentage of projects completed within scope, time, and budget Continual increase
2012/2013 benchmark year: 90%
2012/2013: 95%

Performance Analysis and Lessons Learned—Economic Statistics

  • Managing Canada's macroeconomy through monetary, fiscal and other policies is the responsibility of the federal government. The Bank of Canada, Finance Canada, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and other departments, as well as international organizations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expect that the national statistical office will produce, in general compliance with international standards, comprehensive and timely economic indicators to guide macroeconomic policies, as well as trade and investment policies. Statistics Canada is internationally recognized for producing a comprehensive, high-quality and timely set of economic indicators. The range and quality of Canada's economic statistics, together with Statistics Canada's reputation for quality and integrity, ensure that there is international confidence in the economic data on the Canadian economy.
  • In this regard, the Economic Statistics program performed very well in 2012/2013. It continued to deliver high-quality economic statistics through its ongoing operations, and continued its renewal activities. All major statistical outputs from the Economic Statistics program were released on time, adhering to the pre-established release schedule and accuracy targets.
  • For 2012/2013, the highlight for the Economic Statistics program was the completion of the historical revision of the System of National Accounts (described in more detail below, as well as in Section 1).

Sub-program 1.1: System of National Accounts

This program provides a conceptually integrated framework of statistics and analysis for studying the evolution of the Canadian economy. The accounts are centered on the measurement of production of goods and services, and the purchase/sale of goods and services in domestic and international markets. Production and consumption are measured in dollar terms. Corresponding price indexes are derived and estimates of economic activity in “real” or “inflation adjusted” terms are prepared. Monetary flows are tracked among the four major sectors of the economy: households, businesses, governments and non-residents. Saving, investment, assets, liabilities and national wealth are measured. The program supports various statutory requirements and its outputs are vital to the policy development and program responsibilities of the Bank of Canada, Finance Canada, Industry Canada, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and several other federal and provincial departments and agencies. Its outputs are also widely used in the private sector.

Performance Analysis and Lessons Learned—System of National Accounts

  • In the fall of 2012, Statistics Canada successfully completed a historical revision of the System of National Accounts, which included implementing new international standards for the construction of these accounts. Canada was the second country, after Australia, to adopt the new international standards—specifically, the 2008 System of National Accounts and the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual, Sixth Edition. Other countries, including the United States and members of the European Union, will follow shortly. Given the scope of the change to the international standard, not all of the suggested changes were implemented with the 2012 revision. Furthermore, the implementation of certain aspects of the international standard needs to be synchronized with the implementation of this standard in other countries to ensure that macroeconomic measures remain internationally comparable. Statistics Canada plans to make additional revisions to the Canadian System of National Accounts in 2014 and in 2015.
  • The program is also updating the framework under which it publishes a comprehensive set of government finance statistics. The IMF maintains the international standard governing the production of these government finance statistics. This Government Finance Statistics (GFS) standard is periodically updated to reflect changes to international financial and statistical accounting practices. Statistics Canada is in the process of adopting the GFS standard. The GFS encompasses all levels of government by converting distinct sets of government financial statements into one consistent, comparable set of financial statistics. This enables comparison of government finances across jurisdictions. The revenue statistics from this program will be used in the equalization program of the Federal–Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and in the Canadian System of National Accounts. In addition, government finance statistics are used by governments for analytical and forecasting purposes, as well as for reporting to international agencies, such as the IMF and the OECD.
  • Improvements are also being made to the comprehensive set of geographical statistics relating to foreign direct investment and international trade in services. For the former, there are plans to work towards implementing most of remaining recommendations from the OECD Benchmark Definition of Foreign Direct Investment, Fourth Edition. For the latter, there are plans being formulated to add some additional detail as recommended in the United Nations Manual on International Trade in Services.
  • Building on the release of the conceptual framework for environment statistics and broad user consultation, the program will identify priority data gaps in environment statistics and draft a plan to begin addressing these data gaps.

Sub-program 1.2: Analytical Studies

This program integrates, analyzes and interprets data collected both within the department and elsewhere to describe and draw inferences about the nature of Canada's economy and society. It develops new and improved techniques for the statistical analysis and interpretation of socio-economic data sets. This program provides Statistics Canada's assessment of current economic conditions through articles in Economic Insights. The program produces annual estimates of multifactor productivity and associated analytical reports. These activities are vital for the Bank of Canada, Finance Canada, Industry Canada and the private sector financial community.

Performance Analysis and Lessons Learned—Analytical Studies

  • Understanding productivity is enhanced by analysis at the individual firm level. Business microdata have been used to study the relative importance of small and large firms, whether job growth originates more from small or large firms, the importance of entry and exit, and how exporters have adjusted to changing tariff and exchange rates and Canada–U.S. price differences. Studies have also outlined how investment has been shifting from hard assets such as machinery and equipment and buildings to intangible assets such as research and development.
  • Other studies have focused on using data from the National Accounts to demonstrate the contribution of changes in the terms of trade to economic well-being. Differences in provincial performance have outlined the nature of structural change taking place across Canada. Analysis has also focused on extending the productivity accounts to encompass such government sectors as education and health.
  • The Canadian Centre for Data Development and Economic Research was opened to expand research access to business microdata, all the while preserving the confidentiality of these data.
  • An area where the Agency could improve data relates to the production processes of multinational enterprises and their increasing fragmentation. This phenomenon poses significant measurement challenges for statistical organizations and considerable conceptual and methodological work and data development is required to capture and analyze the impacts of globalization. Statistics Canada is currently participating in a joint Eurostat–OECD task force on global production charged with clarifying international standards and setting general guidelines on measurement.

Sub-program 1.3: Industry Statistics

This program plans, directs, coordinates and controls the provision of statistical information and advice on distributive trades, business surveys, manufacturing, construction, energy; and service industries to governments, private organizations and institutions. The program supports statutory requirements largely focussed on the System of National Accounts.

Performance Analysis and Lessons Learned—Industry Statistics

  • A major initiative, with a large impact on the Industry Statistics program, is the Integrated Business Survey Program (IBSP), which will streamline and consolidate the Agency's business survey processing environment. The IBSP will reduce diversity in methods and system applications among the surveys, and maximize re-use of common and integrated solutions. It will also make electronic data collection the primary data collection method. In 2012/2013, the review of the content of 62 annual industry surveys was completed. Statistics Canada then started developing and testing electronic questionnaires for the first group of surveys to be integrated into the IBSP.
  • Improvements in providing better quality and more relevant information about e-commerce sales in Canada were undertaken by the Annual and Monthly Retail Trade Survey programs. Method-of-sale data were released by the Annual Retail Trade Survey program in March 2013. In addition, a research and analysis project to collect and publish monthly e-commerce sales was launched to start producing these series more quickly.

Sub-program 1.4: Economy-wide Statistics

This program plans, directs, coordinates and controls the provision of statistical information and advice on financial and taxation statistics for enterprises, international trade, investment and capital stock, and prices to governments, private organizations and institutions. The program supports statutory requirements largely focussed on the System of National Accounts.

Performance Analysis and Lessons Learned—Economy-wide Statistics

  • This program continued to provide statistics relating to enterprises, international trade, investment, capital stock and prices. A major accomplishment is the improved accuracy of the Consumer Price Index, Canada's most cited measure of inflation. The index basket is now being adjusted and updated more frequently to better reflect changes in consumer spending patterns. Statistics Canada is in the fourth year of a multi-year program to make these enhancements.
  • The Canadian international merchandise trade program saw two major improvements as well. First, in conjunction with the historical revision of the System of National Accounts mentioned above, the classification of merchandise was updated to the North American Product Classification System, replacing the old classification that has been in use for many decades. In addition, the Canadian international merchandise trade data are now published on average 35 days after the end of the reference month, 5 days earlier than previously.

Sub-program 1.5: Agriculture, Technology and Transportation Statistics

This program plans, directs, coordinates and controls the provision of statistical information and advice concerning agriculture, science, technology, broadcasting, telecommunications, innovation and electronic commerce, small business, special surveys and transportation to governments, private organizations and institutions. The program supports statutory requirements largely focussed on the System of National Accounts.

Performance Analysis and Lessons Learned—Agriculture, Technology and Transportation Statistics

  • The program continued to provide statistical information and advice on topics such as agriculture, science, technology, broadcasting, telecommunications, innovation and electronic commerce, and transportation.
  • As a follow-up to the comprehensive review of the Agriculture Statistics program in 2011/2012, for which the final report was released in August 2012, six feasibility studies were undertaken to further explore potential avenues highlighted in the report. The main objectives were to find ways to further reduce response burden and to gain efficiencies. Studies were conducted on exploiting earth observation data produced by remote sensing technology, increasing the use of administrative data such as that on animal traceability, crop insurance and other agriculture programs, as well as reviewing the survey inclusion thresholds. The studies produced findings on the merit of each of these options, accompanied by recommendations and lessons learned.
  • An area where Agency data could be improved is statistics on science, technology and innovation. These have become essential to complement traditional macroeconomic indicators to better understand the forces at play and the performance of the Canadian economy in a global context. This information is needed by governments in the formulation of policies and programs that are better targeted and more effective at stimulating investments, increasing competitiveness, and encouraging innovation. A substantial effort will be made in the coming two years to address some vulnerabilities resulting from the reduction of administrative data owing to changes to the Scientific Research and Experimental Research tax credit. The Agency will need to significantly increase the sample size for the survey portion of the program that measures business expenditure on research and development—an important component of Statistics Canada's suite of science, technology and innovation indicators—to continue producing reliable estimates. Efforts will also increase to modernize the conceptual framework underlying the production of statistical information on the digital economy, to develop new indicators for measuring innovation, and to develop a new survey for measuring advanced technologies.


Footnote 1

See Section 4, Other items of interest, for indicator definitions.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

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