How does Statistics Canada obtain your personal information?
Statistics Canada obtains personal information from various sources:
- Statistics Canada survey responses
Statistics Canada conducts hundreds of surveys each year on a variety of topics. Statistics Canada is obligated to protect the information that you provide.
- Other organizations that collect your personal information
Similar to other international statistical agencies, our legislation allows us to reduce response burden and duplication by requesting and using existing data from organizations. Statistics Canada is obligated to protect your information in the same manner as the organization that originally collected your information. Find out more on Administrative data.
- Client information
As a data user, when you purchase a product from Statistics Canada, we collect certain personal information and inform you about the collection, use and retention of this information. For example, when you visit Statistics Canada's website, we may collect some information using cookies or web analytics. Of note, we do not sell, distribute or transfer your information to anyone without your consent.
What we do with your personal information
- We create statistics to fulfill our mandate
Statistics Canada uses information from large samples of Canadians to generate statistics that help us to gain insight into our society and economy.
- We use data to its full potential
Whether Statistics Canada received your information directly or through another organization, we use it to its full potential. When data is linked from different files, Statistics Canada can produce more statistics and research to help us answer questions about complex issues that affect Canada. Data is aggregated and results are verified before they are released to ensure that individuals cannot be identified. See information on Approved microdata linkages.
- We protect it
Your data is protected by laws and other measures that guard your privacy. The Statistics Act, the Privacy Act and other relevant federal policies and directives ensure your data is protected. Information technology (IT) systems protect your information from unauthorized outside access. All Statistics Canada employees take an oath to protect your information and receive mandatory confidentiality training. The oath is valid even after their employment has ended and is accompanied by penalties that include fines and imprisonment.
Statistics Canada removes direct identifiers from survey data files once the identifiers are no longer needed for analysis. However, it may still be possible to link a respondent's information through the Social Data Record Linkage Environment (SDLE). More information on Statistics Canada's Privacy Impact Assessment for the SDLE.
- We ensure the privacy of your information
The Treasury Board Secretariat's Guidelines on Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) require federal organizations to conduct PIAs to assess the potential impact of Statistics Canada projects on the privacy of individuals when the personal information is used for administrative or regulatory purposes. Statistics Canada only uses personal information for statistical purposes and, as such, is not required to conduct PIAs. Regardless, we choose to demonstrate to Canadians our commitment to personal information protection by conducting PIAs to assess our impact on individual privacy. More information is available on our Privacy impact assessments.
- We never use data for administrative or regulatory purposes
Statistics Canada's role is to produce statistics, not to make decisions about Canadians. In addition to never using your personal information for administrative or regulatory purposes, we do not give it to other organizations that would use it for those purposes. For example, Statistics Canada does not share your personal information with the Canada Revenue Agency or with law enforcement entities such as the police.
Who has access to your personal information?
- Select Statistics Canada employees
Although all employees take an oath of secrecy, access to confidential information is only allowed if it is required by the employees to perform their duties. Access to your direct identifiers, such as your name, is restricted to an even smaller group of employees and only for a short period of time for statistical purposes, after which the direct identifiers are removed immediately.
- Other organizations
Your personal information is never shared with other government organizations for statistical purposes, unless you consent explicitly. In such cases, we ensure that your information will be protected in accordance with specific terms and conditions. In some instances, your personal information might be provided to Statistics Canada by another organization. In that case, that organization is responsible for ensuring that it is allowed to authorize the disclosure of your personal information.
Select researchers may have access to your personal information to conduct statistical work if their research has been approved by Statistics Canada and if they have taken the oath of secrecy (which all Statistics Canada employees must take). Researchers and deemed employees access confidential information in a secure environment under the supervision of a Statistics Canada employee. They are subject to the same penalties and fines as any other Statistics Canada employee. Furthermore, all research papers are vetted for confidentiality to ensure that no confidential information is released by the researcher.
How do I access my personal information?
Under the Privacy Act, you have the right to request a copy of the personal information that Statistics Canada has about you. To request a copy of your personal information, please specify the survey in which you participated or the record that would have been provided to Statistics Canada by another organization. You can make a request by contacting the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) coordinator.
Please note that to protect an individual's privacy as much as possible, Statistics Canada generally removes direct identifiers such as names from files. In such cases, we may be unable to provide you with your information.
Statistics Canada collects data on all aspects of Canadian life—and you have a vital role to play. For more information see Infographic: The Journey of Statistics Canada Data.