A video about Statistics Canada's role internationally: Description of visuals
Can statistics build a better world? Better societies, better economies?
(Globe spinning with images of dollar signs and people circling around the globe.)
Can data shed light on trends, identify strengths and weaknesses? Tell us something about our neighbourhood, our country, other countries?
(Houses popping up from the ground.)
Of course, official statistics can do all these things.
I'm Eric Rancourt, of Statistics Canada. Since its beginning, Statistics Canada has produced all kinds of information that help improve the lives of Canadians.
For over seventy-five years, our agency has also reached out to work with numerous countries to gather better statistics. Better official statistics have enabled those nations to thrive and achieve some of the great things Canada has achieved.
(Globe with arrows moving to and from Canada.)
This also benefits Canada. Working with other countries, and with international agencies, is an opportunity to gain knowledge and insight. It helps us build a stronger agency and a stronger Canada.
My job, as director of International Co-operation Division, allows me to be at the forefront of all this. But the person with the big-picture view on our international work is Wayne Smith, the Chief Statistician of Canada. I spoke with him at length on this topic. Here are some of the highlights.
Good afternoon Mr. Smith.
To begin the discussion on our international role, can you tell us what inspired Statistics Canada to start working with other national statistical agencies?
Yes, well the story begins in 1918, believe it or not, when the Dominion Bureau of Statistics was created. Other countries helped us shape and build our first national statistical office. That started to generate interest in collaborating with other statistical offices in other countries.
In the years following, we had meetings with the countries who had been helping us, for instance, a group of Commonwealth statisticians met a number of times in those days.
It wasn't a one-way process. We learned from each other. We also noticed that the participating countries, and other advanced countries that were part of the Commonwealth, were better prepared to react to socio-economic changes.
Our first official assistance provided outside of Canada was in 1936 in what was then Palestine. That experience made the Bureau very keen to continue this kind of work.
(Image of Palestine.)
When was International Co-operation Division formed?
The first official international co-operation unit was created in 1971. Then in 1980 we created a division called the International Relations Division. Of course, we had already been doing work outside of Canada for five decades at that point.
From an international and national perspective, why is the work of this division so important?
Well, there are about 200 countries as well as about 200 international agencies and committees working on social statistics, economic statistics and environmental statistics.
Even though it is managers and specialists who work within these organizations and committees, it is the International Cooperation Division that manages our participation.
International Co-operation Division manages technical assistance to other countries, reports on international developments, and, in general, helps us maintain strong relationships with our international colleagues.
(Globe spinning with images of past meetings with other national statistical organizations.)
This is important work, even if it's less visible to the public than the census or our surveys.
Can you name some of the countries we have assisted over the years?
Actually, it's a fairly long list. Our main efforts in recent years have been with China.
(Image of an African nation and an image of the Eiffel tower.)
But before that, we were involved in several countries in Africa and South America, as well as some in Europe and Asia.
(Spinning globe of the world zooms in highlighting various countries. Zoom back out to the globe.)
The main ones that come to mind besides China are Colombia, Chile, Mongolia, Mozambique, Zambia and Eritrea. Today we are involved with Singapore and many countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
How have they benefited from our help?
Specifically, we have worked with these countries to strengthen their methodology, improve their business and social surveys as well as their national accounts. In plain terms, we work with them to develop their statistical processes to foster success so that those countries have a better picture and understanding of themselves in support of their economic and social policies.
Has Statistics Canada maintained strong relationships with statistical offices we have worked with in the past?
Yes, certainly China comes to mind. We have maintained a good co-operative relationship with China since 1984.
(Video of meeting with Chinese delegates.)
At first, it was mainly an exchange of documentation. Later, we developed a course on survey methods and practices to train thousands of Chinese statisticians. A book and video were developed to support the course.
For two decades, we helped the National Bureau of Statistics in China redesign both its business and social survey infrastructures. At the moment, we are helping them strengthen their quality assurance framework and develop a new paradigm for their business architecture.
(Video of meeting with Chinese delegates.)
As Chief Statistician, I have met the National Bureau of Statistics Commissioner twice to confirm our intention of maintaining our strong relationship.
In addition, we have had longstanding relationships with the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
Why is it important for Statistics Canada to share its knowledge with other statistical agencies?
Well Canadian values aside, which would be an adequate justifications in on themselves, sharing knowledge with others is an opportunity to improve the overall world statistical system and make statistics from all countries more comparable.
It also helps Canada better compare and position itself at the global level.
You once said that, "there is a moral obligation for developed countries to help developing countries establish a solid and credible statistical system." Could you elaborate?
Canada is a member of the United Nations. This agency's international work is part of Canada's responsibilities to help other UN members.
Before a country can develop better policies to improve the well-being of its people, it needs to measure the socio-economic landscape. Helping other countries do this is a morally just thing to do.
Well, Mr. Smith, it's been a pleasure talking to you about our international activities outside of Canada. Thank you very much for the time.
(The image fades into the Canada wordmark against a black background.)