Back in the 1990s, Statistics Canada was named top statistical agency in the world by The Economist magazine. It was a pretty cool honour back then: today, StatCan’s expertise is increasingly being shared around the world—an indication the agency still has its groove.
Kids go through a phase where they love to classify. Quartz rocks get piled with quartz rocks. Amethysts go in another pile. Limestone and shale go elsewhere. Then, they tally how many rocks are in each pile.
Statistics Canada does somewhat the same exercise on a much grander scale. As data arrive from surveys or census or administrative sources (bits gathered by other departments or agencies), the data are sorted into piles. Sub-piles and special tabulations follow.
But who decides what data go into which pile? Enter Standards Division.
From big-ticket items, like health insurance and education, to the annoying pothole at the end of the street, the way that governments collect and spend money touches all Canadians.
Statistics Canada has been tracking the ins and outs of government finance, stretching back to before the days of the Dominion Bureau of Statistics. As Canadian society became more complex, Statistics Canada grew more sophisticated at measuring government finances, adjusting accounting methods, fine-tuning and tracking.
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