Frequently asked questions

Research Data Centres

  • Why do researchers need to sign a contract with Statistics Canada?

    Why do researchers need to sign a contract with Statistics Canada?

    A contract is required by the Statistics Act. Access to anonymized microdata can only be given to Statistics Canada employees or deemed employees, employees who are under contract to Statistics Canada.

  • If fees apply for my project, what are they?

    If fees apply for my project, what are they?

    Please see the CRDCN AFFS Policy.

  • I am required to have an ethics review for the use of Statistics Canada microdata. What do I need to do?

    I am required to have an ethics review for the use of Statistics Canada microdata. What do I need to do?

    The document "Mitigation of Risk to Respondents of Statistics Canada's Surveys" outlines the policies and procedures that Statistics Canada has established to mitigate the risk to respondents of Statistics Canada's surveys and can be shared with ethics review boards.

  • How does Statistics Canada assure confidentiality and security of data?

    How does Statistics Canada assure confidentiality and security of data?

    For more information visit the Trust Centre.

  • Why are fingerprinting and credit checks mandatory? Does it apply to everyone? Is my information protected?

    Why are fingerprinting and credit checks mandatory? Does it apply to everyone? Is my information protected?

    Please visit Treasury board for more information.

  • What is the Oath of Secrecy?

    What is the Oath of Secrecy?

    The Oath is a requirement of the Statistics Act indicating a promise to never disclose any identifiable information about individual respondents. The Oath lasts forever in that even after a deemed employee has completed the work, they can never divulge any of the confidential information accessed.

    While the Oath of Secrecy does not expire, a researcher will be asked to reaffirm the Oath every 10 years if they continue to work as a deemed employee of Statistics Canada.

  • Is any personally identifiable information available in the RDCs?

    Is any personally identifiable information available in the RDCs?

    No. All data sets have been stripped of personal details such as names, addresses and phone numbers that could be used to identify particular individuals.

  • Is there support for older data?

    Is there support for older data?

    Older data or data that is part of a discontinued collection have little or no support for inquiries about content, sample design and related methodology issues. Please contact your RDC Analyst if you have questions about a particular dataset.

  • Can I use non-Statistics Canada data sets?

    Can I use non-Statistics Canada data sets?

    On occasion, a researcher may wish to use non-Statistics Canada data as part of their analysis. Non-Statistics Canada data can be brought into the RDC under certain conditions. These data should complement the Statistics Canada microdata requested in the proposal. It is the researcher's responsibility to acquire non-Statistics Canada data and bring a copy to the RDC.

    In order for Statistics Canada to determine if the data can be brought into the RDC, provide the following information in your proposal:

    • nature and type of data
    • unit of analysis
    • source (e.g. website, agency)
    • permission received to access the data (e.g. publicly available, written permission, signed contract, ethics approval)
    • How does the use of these data contribute to the research question?
    • Will the new data be amended, pooled or merged with Statistics Canada datasets?
      • If yes, will these data be linked at the individual micro-record level?

    Record linkage requires additional approval from Statistics Canada.

    Please contact the analyst at your RDC for more information.

  • What software is available to researchers in an RDC?

    What software is available to researchers in an RDC?

    • SAS
    • STATA
    • SPSS
    • R (RStudio)
    • ArcGIS

    The above list is not exhaustive. If a particular software is not available, the researcher can submit a request through the local analyst that will be reviewed and evaluated by Statistics Canada. Contact your local analyst for more details.

  • If my proposal was approved, does that mean the software that I listed on my proposal was also approved and available in the RDC?

    If my proposal was approved, does that mean the software that I listed on my proposal was also approved and available in the RDC?

    No, the proposal approval is not also an approval for the software.

Deemed employees

  • What is a "deemed employee"?

    What is a "deemed employee"?

    The Statistics Act allows Statistics Canada to use the services of individuals (persons, incorporated contractors, public servants) to do work for Statistics Canada without being an employee in the general sense of the term. The Act refers to these individuals as "deemed to be a person employed under this Act", hence the expression "deemed employee." Section 5 addresses the hiring of "deemed employees" from federal government departments, individuals and consultants while section 10 allows for the hiring of provincial public servants.

    A deemed employee is someone who is providing a specific service which, in most cases, involves having access to confidential information for statistical purposes, including the anonymized microdata available in the RDCs. In performing this service, the person has the same obligations of a Statistics Canada employee to keep identifiable information confidential.

  • How does someone become a deemed employee?

    How does someone become a deemed employee?

    Statistics Canada hires a person as a deemed employee if there is a specific service that Statistics Canada requires from the person, for example, data analysis, data validation, etc. Statistics Canada enters into an agreement with either the individual or the organization they represent.

    In order to become a deemed employee, the individual must:

    • be granted "Reliability Status" following a security check
    • be identified in an agreement under which they are granted access to specific confidential information
    • take the Oath of Office, as required by section 6 of the Statistics Act
    • acknowledge in writing that they have read, understood and will comply with the security requirements listed in the appendix of the agreement, relevant Statistics Canada policies as well as this document
    • declare in writing that they do not have any conflict of interest as described in the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service.
  • What are the responsibilities of a deemed employee?

    What are the responsibilities of a deemed employee?

    A deemed employee must protect the confidentiality of any identifiable information as per subsection 17(1) of the Statistics Act and that the information can only be used for the purposes described in the agreement.

    Keeping the information confidential means that a deemed employee cannot discuss the information with unauthorized persons and it must be protected at all times (i.e., it cannot be removed from Statistics Canada premises; it cannot be sent via email on an unsecured network; it must be locked up when not in use; and it must be destroyed in a secure manner).

  • What happens if a deemed employee does something that is prohibited under the Statistics Act?

    What happens if a deemed employee does something that is prohibited under the Statistics Act?

    Because all deemed employees take the Oath of Secrecy, they must uphold the confidentiality provisions of the Statistics Act or be liable to prosecution and the penalties outlined in the Act: a fine of up to $1000 and/or a jail term of up to six months.

  • What information can a deemed employee access?

    What information can a deemed employee access?

    The agreement will specifically indicate the confidential information required for the work that a deemed employee performs. As is the case with employees of Statistics Canada, taking the Oath of Secrecy does not give a deemed employee access to all information held by Statistics Canada: access to confidential information is strictly on a need-to-know-basis.

  • Who are the authorized persons deemed employees can discuss the information with?

    Who are the authorized persons deemed employees can discuss the information with?

    This includes employees of Statistics Canada who are also entitled to access the same information due to the nature of their work. Potentially it could also include other deemed employees who are also named in an agreement. Any discussion involving confidential information with an unauthorized person would constitute a breach of the Statistics Act as well as the terms of the agreement.

Microdata Access Portal

  • What is the Microdata Access Portal (MAP)?

    What is the Microdata Access Portal (MAP)?

    The MAP is a new web based application which will allow researchers to apply for access to Statistics Canada's microdata files, and to manage their application.

  • What is the launch date of the new application process?

    What is the launch date of the new application process?

    The MAP will be launched on January 29, 2020.

  • What types of applications can be completed in the MAP?

    What types of applications can be completed in the MAP?

    At this time, federal, provincial, academic and Biobank applications for access to microdata from the Research Data Centres (RDCs) and the Federal Research Data Centres (FRDCs) are accepted. However, in the future, the MAP will be used to access other programs such as Real Time Remote Access (RTRA), Data Liberation Initiative (DLI) and the Virtual Data Labs (vDLs).

  • Where can I get more information on the application process?

    Where can I get more information on the application process?

    Refer to the Application Process and Guidelines page.

  • Who can apply through the MAP?

    Who can apply through the MAP?

    Researchers may be public servants (federal, provincial, territorial, municipal), academics or researchers working for the not-for-profit sector or for the private sector.

  • What is a MAP ID?

    What is a MAP ID?

    A MAP ID is an identification number that is associated to each of your proposals. It is included in your dashboard and will be required if you need to contact Statistics Canada about your proposal.

  • What are the benefits of the MAP?

    What are the benefits of the MAP?

    The MAP streamlines the application process by bringing all the requirements into one central location. In addition, researchers will be able to manage their application within their own personalized dashboard.

  • What has changed in the application process?

    What has changed in the application process?

    Academic researchers will no longer apply to access Statistics Canada microdata through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). As well, the peer review process has changed and the information is submitted in the MAP. Government, for profit and not-for-profit researchers, will now use the MAP instead of emailing Statistics Canada directly. For more information visit the Application Process and Guidelines page.

  • How is my personal data protected in the MAP?

    How is my personal data protected in the MAP?

    Researchers will establish a password protected account with Statistics Canada before inputting their information into the MAP. The same information that was collected through the existing application forms will be collected (i.e. personal information and information regarding the research project). No new information will be collected. Only a limited number of people will have access to your personal information and it is only for administrative purposes on a need to know basis for Statistics Canada staff to complete your application process. The administrative component of the MAP is restricted and password protected. The personal information and project application information will be stored in a secure permission protected shared folder located on Statistics Canada's secure internal network.

  • Why do you collect my date of birth?

    Why do you collect my date of birth?

    The date of birth is required to confirm the security clearance status and will be used for administrative purposes only (e.g., to identify you if someone else has the same name in the MAP).

  • Do I need to use the MAP during the entire life cycle of my project or just at the application stage?

    Do I need to use the MAP during the entire life cycle of my project or just at the application stage?

    You need to use the MAP when applying for a new project. Once your project is approved, your main point of contact for any project amendments (e.g., to add data, to change the list of investigators, to extend the project) will be your local analyst.

  • What do I need to create an account?

    What do I need to create an account?

    To create an account you need an email address, a password and about 5 minutes.

  • How long will it take me to complete an application?

    How long will it take me to complete an application?

    When you have all the documents required, it will take about 15 minutes to apply.

  • Can I save my partially completed application and finish it later?

    Can I save my partially completed application and finish it later?

    Yes, you can complete your application in multiple sessions. Changes will be saved and your proposal will remain in a draft mode (i.e. not yet submitted). If a document is missing or you are waiting for a co-investigator to create an account, you can always come back at a later time to complete your application. Once your application is submitted, you cannot change it in the portal.

  • Can I make changes to my application?

    Can I make changes to my application?

    • Yes, you can make changes to your application as long as it has not been submitted (saved as draft).
    • If your application has been submitted but is still in the approval process, you can contact us, to request a change.
    • Once your application has been approved, you will need to make amendments by contacting your local analyst.
  • Can I submit a request for additional software once my application has been submitted?

    Can I submit a request for additional software once my application has been submitted?

    See question 15. Please note that it is strongly advised that such requests be made well in advance since the review and approval process for software can be lengthy.

  • My project's funding type changed. How do I adjust my application?

    My project's funding type changed. How do I adjust my application?

    If the application has not yet been submitted, edit this information in the Application portal.

    If the application has already been submitted, please contact us for assistance.

  • How often is the list of available data updated in the MAP?

    How often is the list of available data updated in the MAP?

    The list of datasets is updated every week.

  • Will I be notified when my application has been processed?

    Will I be notified when my application has been processed?

    In your dashboard, the project status will be "Approved (awaiting contract)." You will also be notified by Statistics Canada via email. Processing usually takes 6 to 8 weeks.

  • How do I check my project status?

    How do I check my project status?

    For an update on your project status, log into your dashboard. The project statuses are:

    • Draft
    • Submitted
    • Under Review
    • Approved (awaiting contract)
    • Denied
    • Active
    • Inactive / Expired
  • What do the statuses mean?

    What do the statuses mean?

    In the dashboard, the definitions of the project statuses are:

    • Draft: when the principal investigator is filling out a project application.
    • Submitted: when all the mandatory fields are completed and the principal investigator has submitted the application.
    • Under Review: Statistics Canada is in the process of reviewing the application
    • Approved (awaiting contract): the project has been approved by Statistics Canada and is awaiting the Statistics Canada signature on the contract.
    • Denied: the project is not approved. Statistics Canada will send an email to the principal investigator requesting additional information or explain why the request is denied.
    • Active: when the project is approved and the agreement is signed.
    • Inactive / Expired: when a project has been in draft mode for a year time or when a project has expired the project timeline.
  • Can I select more than one RDC for my project in the portal?

    Can I select more than one RDC for my project in the portal?

    No, in the portal, you can only select one RDC: chose the main one you will be using. Please contact us if you need to use more than one RDC.

  • More than one level of government is sponsoring my project. How do I enter this in the portal?

    More than one level of government is sponsoring my project. How do I enter this in the portal?

    Select the government who is the primary sponsor. You will be able to report multiple sources of government funding in the text field available in each section of the Fee for Service questionnaire.

Microdata Access Portal (for academics only)

  • Why are applications no longer submitted through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)?

    Why are applications no longer submitted through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)?

    The SSHRC platform will be available for applications until January 29, 2020. After this date, new applicants will be redirected to Statistics Canada Microdata Access Portal. Statistics Canada, SSHR, CIHR, and the Canadian Research Data Centre Network (CRDCN) have agreed to move this process to the MAP.

  • I was familiar with the SSHRC portal, how different is the MAP?

    I was familiar with the SSHRC portal, how different is the MAP?

    The application process used to be two processes: the application and peer review was with SSHRC and then Statistics Canada processed the application to grant access to an RDC. The whole process now is with Statistics Canada and all the required forms are in the MAP. As a user, you will be able to check the status of your application.

  • Why do you need to ask questions about the funding of my project?

    Why do you need to ask questions about the funding of my project?

    In order to determine if a fee for service will be charged for your project, we need to understand the type of funding you have received. We need to determine if your research is self-directed and if a deliverable is required for the funding agency. More information on the Access and Fee for Service Policy is available on the Canadian Research Data Centre Network (CRDCN) website.

  • Why are some projects "fee for service"?

    Why are some projects "fee for service"?

    Researchers are be divided into two main categories: primary and secondary users.

    Primary users are not charged for access.

    They are university-based researchers who are employed by, or students in, Canadian Research Data Centre Network (CRDCN) partner universities and/or whose projects are directly funded by an agency which is providing core financial support for the sustained research activities of the CRDCN. All students who are undertaking self-directed research for their degree, regardless of whether or not they are affiliated with a CRDCN partner university, are also deemed primary users of the RDCs.

    Secondary users are charged access fees to support the university infrastructure, administrative and operating costs of running an Research Data Centre. The partnership between CRDCN and Statistics Canada also provides for approved fee-for-service access to three categories of secondary users:

    • university-based researchers from an institution that is not a CRDCN partner
    • researchers working for government or the non-profit sector
    • researchers working for the private sector.
  • What is required for the peer review?

    What is required for the peer review?

    When a peer review is required, the Principal Investigator needs to:

    • identify an appropriate assessor
    • send the peer review form and your proposal to the assessor
    • have the assessor fill out the form
    • submit the peer review form.
  • Why do some researchers have to complete the peer review form?

    Why do some researchers have to complete the peer review form?

    This peer review process is for those who are not students, are not pre-approved and/or do not have funding from an adjudicated funding process. This process was approved by the Canadian Research Data Centre Network (CRDCN) and Statistics Canada in order to streamline the peer review.

  • Why can't I access the data without completing the peer review form?

    Why can't I access the data without completing the peer review form?

    Since it is important to maintain the trust of Canadians in the use of their personal information and to ensure that all academic research carried out in the Research Data Centres (RDCs) is of scientific merit, a new, simpler peer review process was developed for academic researchers.

  • Who can be an assessor for my project?

    Who can be an assessor for my project?

    If a peer review is needed, you need to contact an assessor knowledgeable in your area of research. The assessor is a person who holds the rank of tenured Associate Professor or Full Professor at an accredited Canadian university (this would exclude faculty working in teaching only positions).

  • Why do I need to find my own assessor?

    Why do I need to find my own assessor?

    In finding your own assessor, this will streamline our application processes and will help in the established timelines for getting applications to the active stage of the project.

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