Statistics Canada is responsible for measuring Canada’s economy, society and environment while protecting the privacy and confidentiality of Canadians. The agency relies on personal data provided by Canadians directly or indirectly to produce and analyze statistics. That is the agency’s singular purpose – to extract valuable insights from data for the public good. Never is any private or confidential information shared with anyone outside the agency without their consent.
As our data-driven society continues to evolve exponentially, so too are the growing number of actors and privacy concerns. In this new digital context, Statistics Canada faces several challenges, most notably balancing the need to evolve and modernize collection methods with Canadians’ requirements of personal privacy and ensuring that reviews of the Privacy Act continue to allow the proper functioning of an independent National Statistical Office.
In response to these challenges, Statistics Canada has taken several steps to become even more accountable and transparent by taking action on the following:
- formalizing the process already in place for collecting data through the adoption of the proportionality framework;,
- initiating a Trust Center to provide Canadians with essential information; and
- establishing a new Security and Privacy Management Secretariat to better engage with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC).
As an additional resource to guide the way forward, the Canadian Statistics Advisory Council (CSAC) was created as part of the amendments to the Statistics Act in 2017.
In keeping with this mandate, the Chief Statistician is seeking the advice of the CSAC on how quality aspects such as relevance, accessibility, accuracy and timeliness in the production of information can continue to be achieved in the context of current privacy legislation and potential changes to it. Of particular importance is how to maintain Canadians’ trust in Statistics Canada’s authority to collect personal information, so that we may continue to support Canadians in their ability to make informed decisions.