Engaging Canadians: Statistics Canada's National Dialogue


As we reflected upon a century of excellence, we strive to continuously improve our programs, products and services to meet the statistical needs of a data-driven society.

During fall 2018, Statistics Canada started an open dialogue with Canadians to raise awareness of our modernization, and obtain a better understanding of their information needs.

We encouraged Canadians to join our dialogue and share their views to help guide changes to modernize the country's statistical agency—Statistics Canada.

Consultation methodology

In October 2018, hundreds of people from across the country voluntarily took a few hours of their time to comment on how we are delivering our services to Canadians.

We used a multi-channel approach, including an online survey, face–to–face meetings, teleconferences and social media platforms, to reach a broader audience and spark a national dialogue about where we're going, and how we're getting there.

Over 100 engagement activities were conducted across the nation to gather feedback from people with various statistical proficiencies and knowledge of Statistics Canada products and services. These participants included business people, media, researchers, international experts, teachers, professors and students.

How participants got involved

This consultation is now closed.

Individuals who wished to obtain more information or to take part in a consultation were requested to contact Statistics Canada by sending an email to statcan.consultations-consultations.statcan@canada.ca.

Statistics Canada is committed to respecting the privacy of consultation participants. All personal information created, held or collected by the Agency is protected by the Privacy Act. For more information on Statistics Canada's privacy policies, please consult the Privacy notice.


What we heard

While most participants expressed general satisfaction with the agency—especially in regard to our presenting data in an unbiased, neutral fashion—certain areas for improvements were identified. This is what we heard:

Address data gaps – Overall, participants noted a number of themes or topics where they emphasized the need for more data at lower levels of geography. Along with more detailed data, they also indicated wanting more timely and frequent data, especially for Public Use Microdata Files (PUMF).

Increase awareness, promotion and outreach – Participants would like us to do a better job of promoting our many products and services by emulating our successful 2016 Census advertising campaign. Participants also suggested more outreach, particularly related to education. Some suggested that Statistics Canada could attend and present more at conferences.

Publish more data visualization products – Participants love our existing visuals and would like to see more of them. They believed more data visualization products could help with training activities (improving data literacy), and make releases more interesting and easy to understand. Teachers, in particular, noted that they could use them to teach in the classrooms.

Expand partnerships and collaboration – Many participants noted the need for Statistics Canada to partner or collaborate with other levels of government and the private sector to bring Statistics Canada closer to the public, help with the modernization agenda and increase awareness of the agency's products and services. They also suggested that the agency work more with educational institutions and provincial ministries of education to improve data literacy.

Make it easier to obtain or find data – Participants suggested making data easier to obtain or find. There were many comments surrounding the website, including improving the search and navigation, as well as concerns about the functionality of the data tables. Participants also wanted easier access to more microdata and lower costs for custom tabulations.

Taking action!

From the collection to the dissemination of data, Statistics Canada is committed to address the needs and concerns highlighted during our national dialogue.

We are gathering new and existing data in innovative ways, such as using administrative data, crowdsourcing, web scraping, and using open data and microdata linkages to address data gaps and minimize response burden.

For example, a hackathon was organized to gather input from a wide range of experts on better ways to collect tourism data. Innovative crowdsourcing methods are also being used to gather data on hate crimes.

In response to users, particularly in the research community, requesting convenient and timely access to data, Statistics Canada is developing cloud-based access through a Virtual Data Lab (vDL). This service will provide more high-quality information using modern and secure infrastructure.

An increasing number of initiatives are also being put in place to make data more accessible while helping increase the statistical literacy of Canadians. In addition to improving the search engine of the website, more user-friendly subject portals—such as the published Crime and Justice page—are being created to improve awareness of available products and navigation of the website. The agency has also created more than a dozen interactive data visualizations and over 75 infographics since October 2018 to help make data more easily accessible and understandable to all.

Moreover, we have augmented our online presence on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Reddit. By doing so, the agency can have the power to not only create a strong corporate narrative highlighting the tangible benefits of Statistics Canada data, but to also highlight who we are.

Although a lot of work has been completed, the modernization of the Agency is still underway. As we look towards creating another century of excellence, we know that we cannot do it without the input and feedback of Canadians. Statistics Canada looks forward to continuing to have regular discussions to ensure we better serve Canadians.

We would like to thank everyone who took the time to provide feedback. Their input will help us better meet future data and information needs.

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