Privacy and confidentiality of personal information

How does Statistics Canada obtain your personal information?

  1. From survey responses
    Statistics Canada conducts hundreds of household surveys each year on a variety of topics such as health and education. 

  2. From other organizations that collected your personal information for their own purposes
    If another entity has already collected the same information that Statistics Canada needs to produce statistics, our legislation allows us to ask the entity to provide us with your information (which saves you time by not asking the same questions again). Statistics Canada is obligated to protect your information in the same manner as the entity that originally collected your information. The information collected may include your tax records or the address information on your driver’s licence. More information on Administrative data.

  3. Client information
    When you purchase a product from Statistics Canada, we collect certain personal information and inform you about the collection, use and retention of your information. When you visit Statistics Canada’s website, we may collect some information using persistent cookies or web analytics. We do not sell, distribute or transfer your information to anyone without your consent, unless required by law. 

What does Statistics Canada do with your personal information?

  • In short, we create statistics to fulfill our mandate
    This involves using the information from a large group of Canadians to generate statistics that give us a better picture of the lives of Canadians, while respecting the privacy of individuals. View our data for results from our statistical programs.
  • We use it to its full potential
    Whether Statistics Canada received your information directly from you or through a third party such as another government entity, we use it to its full potential. We avoid having to ask the same question more than once so that we can produce relevant, timely and accurate statistics. Linking Canadians’ information from different files enables Statistics Canada to produce more statistics and research, which are in turn used by decision makers. We will only link personal information when its value to the public good outweighs the intrusion of privacy. For example, we can take the answers you gave on a survey and link them to your tax record. The objective is to draw conclusions based on a large sample of the population. More information on all Approved microdata linkages.
  • We protect it
    Statistics Canada has strict rules to safeguard all its data holdings, and these rules adhere to or exceed the requirements of the Statistics Act, the Privacy Act and relevant federal policies and directives. We have put in place information technology (IT) systems that protect your information from cyber attacks, and only approved individuals can enter Statistics Canada premises.
    All employees have taken an oath to protect your information and have received 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, through the conduct of privacy impact assessments, that the privacy of your information is managed
    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 on our Privacy impact assessment.
  • We never use it for administrative or regulatory purposes
    Statistics Canada’s role is to produce statistics, not to take 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, as one of their roles is to determine if you have declared the correct amount of revenue. We also systematically refuse to give your information to law enforcement entities such as the police

Who has access to your personal information?

  • Selected Statistics Canada employees
    Although all employees take an oath of secrecy, access to confidential information is only allowed if it is required for 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 the purposes of analysis, after which the direct identifiers are removed immediately. 
  • Other organizations
    Statistics Canada shares the personal information that you have given us with other organizations that also need it for statistical purposes, but only with your consent. In such cases, we seek assurances 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 subsequent disclosure of your personal information.
  • Researchers
    Selected 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.

What happens if there is a breach?

  • A privacy breach is the loss of, unauthorized access to, or disclosure of personal information. This can occur as a result of the theft or loss of information or data storage equipment, or the improper or unauthorized collection, use, disclosure, access, storage or disposal of information, including misdirected correspondence.

    Statistics Canada has developed a breach protocol that outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a suspected breach. This protocol is based on the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Directive on Privacy Practices and Guidelines for Privacy Breaches. When a breach is suspected, Statistics Canada takes immediate action by investigating and reporting the breach, and taking remedial action to mitigate the impact on individuals whose information may have been breached. In case of a material breach, meaning a breach involving sensitive personal information that could reasonably be expected to cause serious injury or harm to the individual, we must inform individuals whose personal information was breached, as well as inform the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and the Treasury Board Secretariat.

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.

Please note that to protect an individual's privacy as much as possible, Statistics Canada generally removes direct identifiers including names from files. In such cases, we may be unable to provide you with your information.

Requests for information regarding credit data

In 2018, Statistics Canada acquired credit data under section 13 of the Statistics Act. Statistics Canada's access and use of these data is for statistical purposes only and has no impact on any individual's credit rating.

Strong security measures are in place to protect your information. These include separating your direct personal identifiers (name and address) from the rest of your information.

To confirm your identity, Statistics Canada requires your name, address, social insurance number, and date of birth when you request a copy of your personal information. This will ensure that there is no risk of disclosing your information to another individual or entity.

If you wish to use a secure method to provide your social insurance number and date of birth, we suggest that you call us at 613-951-4967 or 613-762-7547. You can also write to us at the address below:

Access to Information and Privacy Office
Office of Privacy Management and Information Coordination
Statistics Canada
RHC 2, Section O
100 Tunney's Pasture Driveway
Ottawa, ON K1A 0T6

You can also email us at statcan.atip-aiprp.statcan@canada.ca.

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