On December 12, 2017, the Act to amend the Statistics Act received Royal Assent, providing the authority for the Government of Canada (GOC) to establish the Canadian Statistics Advisory Council (hereinafter referred to as the "CSAC" or the "Council"). The Council is being created to reinforce the independence and relevance of the national statistical system, and will focus on the overall quality of Canada's statistical system.
The Council's mandate is to advise the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (the "Minister") and the Chief Statistician of Canada in a transparent manner on any question that either of them has referred to the Council on the overall quality of the national statistical system, including the relevance, accuracy, accessibility and timeliness of its data. Its mandate also includes the public release of an annual report on the state of the national statistical system. In doing so, the Council will assist Statistics Canada with achieving its primary goal of ensuring Canadians and governments continue to have access to a trusted source of statistics and data to meet their information needs while preserving privacy and confidentiality of the data.
The Council will provide impartial and independent advice regarding the overall quality, relevance and impartiality of the national statistical system. It will balance the interests of multiple stakeholders with divergent views and synthesize diverse viewpoints and opinions into strategic, non-binding advice.
The Council is expected to focus on a variety of topics such as, but not limited to:
- Providing advice on how to ensure Statistics Canada, through the Statistic Act, can efficiently respond to data needs of the 21st century;
- Providing advice on how to ensure the continuing confidence and trust of Canadians in the national statistical system, its products and collection processes;
- Anticipating emerging issues and trends regarding national statistics agencies, such as the challenges and opportunities that advances in digital technology present for Statistics Canada in collecting and producing relevant and timely statistical information while preserving privacy and data confidentiality.
To increase transparency, the Council will publish an annual report to inform Canadians on the state of the national statistical system.
4. Council membership
The Council shall be composed of up to 10 Members appointed by the Governor in Council (GIC) to hold office during pleasure, including one Chairperson. The Chief Statistician will be an ex-officio Member of the Council.
The Chairperson and Members will serve in their own right, not as representatives of any particular organization, area or special interest, and were recommended by the Minister to the GIC based on their individual accomplishments and expertise in the various fields relevant to ensuring the high quality of the national statistical system.
Members will serve for a term of three years and may be reappointed for an additional term of three years. The Chairperson will serve for a term of not more than five years and may be reappointed for an additional term of three years.
5. Responsibilities of the chairperson and members
The Council will be led by the Chairperson, who will provide leadership and guidance on the Council's ongoing work. The Chairperson will preside over all Council meetings, serve as the primary spokesperson with media, stakeholders, and government officials, liaise with and communicate advice to the Chief Statistician and the Minster on behalf of the Council, and lead the development of the annual report on the state of the Canada's national statistical system. He or she will ensure the Council activities and work are done in a transparent and impartial manner.
Members will support the Chairperson by providing a broad viewpoint and expertise to the issues being discussed by the Council and provide thoughtful advice that is based on the assessment of multiple viewpoints, interests, and issues from a national perspective. Members will additionally support the Chairperson in the development of the annual report on the state of the national statistical system.
The Council will be supported by a Secretariat (as described in section 12 below). As part of the Council's ongoing work, the Secretariat and the Chief Statistician will assist the Council with providing information on Statistics Canada's various subject matters and advisory committees, in addition to other types of administrative support.
The approximate time commitment for the Chairperson and Members is expected to be 10-15 days of remunerated work per year, and will vary depending on the planned activities of the Council.
The Council will meet in person at least once a year. The Chairperson in consultation with the Secretariat will determine the time and place at which the Board will meet, and the scheduling of any additional meetings, including teleconferences.
meeting agendas will be determined by the Chairperson in consultation with the Secretariat
The Council will establish rules and procedures under which meetings will be conducted. To the extent possible, the Council shall operate on a consensus basis.
A quorum of 50 percent of members is required for a Council meeting to proceed and the Chairperson will preside at all meetings.
Outside experts, stakeholders, and government officials may be invited by the Chairperson, in consultation with Members of the Council and the Secretariat, to attend Council meetings to share information and ideas.
7. Conflict of interest
The Chairperson and Members of the Council have been appointed because of their expertise and experience. While recognizing the importance of appointees' experience and knowledge, the Chairperson and Members are required to organize their affairs and their participation in the Council's work to avoid any real or perceived conflict of interest (COI) as they are subject to the Conflict of Interest Act. The Chairperson and Members of the Council should refer to the Conflict of Interest Act for guidance on any real or perceived COI that may potentially arise from their work on the Council.
8. Political activity
As GIC appointees, the Chairperson and Members of the Council must comply with the Ethical and Political Activity Guidelines for Public Office Holders throughout their appointment as a term and condition of employment.
9. Values and ethics
As GIC appointees, the Chairperson and Members of the Council must uphold the highest standards of probity and are expected to demonstrate behaviours in the workplace that afford respect, equality and dignity, to everyone they interact with at work at all times. The Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector outlines the values and expected behaviours for public servants, including valuing diversity and creating workplaces free from harassment and discrimination. As GIC appointees, the Chairperson and Members of the Council are expected to uphold and respect these values and principles in a positive and active manner.
Any information divulged or obtained during meetings or provided in support of such meetings that is categorized as 'confidential' shall be protected and maintained as confidential and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, shall not be discussed in public unless expressly authorized to do so by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. Information or documentation demonstrably in the public domain is excluded from the confidentiality rule.
The Chairperson and Members of the Council may be required to obtain a security clearance
11. Fees and expenses
As per Order in Council PC Number: 2018-0965 dated June 28, 2018, the GIC has fixed the remuneration ranges for the Chairperson and Members of Council. The per diem rate for the Chairperson has been fixed in the range $550.00 - $650.00; and for Members in the range $375.00 - $450.00
The Chairperson and Members of the Council shall be reimbursed, consistent with guidelines set forth by the Treasury Board Directive on Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures for reasonable travel and living expenses incurred while performing Council duties while absent from his or her ordinary place of residence.
To reduce travel costs, the use of teleconference, WebEx, Skype for Business, and videoconferencing facilities is encouraged whenever feasible.
12. Secretariat support
A Secretariat housed within Statistics Canada will be responsible for providing overall leadership on administrative support to enable the effective functioning of the Council, such as planning and coordinating the logistics for Council meetings and teleconferences, the completion and review of travel forms to facilitate the processing of travel expense claims, confirming travel arrangements and supporting the development of the Council's annual report, including on questions raised by either the Chief Statistician or the Minister.
The Secretariat will be led by Statistics Canada but will also include a representative from Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada.
13. Media and communications
Media requests related to Council statements or activities to be directed to CSAC Secretariat. Media Relations at both Statistics Canada and Innovation, Science and Economic Development will be available to provide support as needed. The Chairperson is the primary spokesperson for the CSAC.