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Section II: Analysis of Program Activities by Strategic Outcome

Statistics Canada's fundamental purpose is the production of relevant and reliable statistical information. Confidence in the quality of that information is essential. If the information becomes suspect, the credibility of the Department is called into question and its reputation as an independent, objective source of trustworthy information is undermined. Managing the quality of statistical information therefore plays a central role within the overall management of the Department.

The Department defines the quality of statistical information in terms of its "fitness for use". To measure information quality, the Department uses the six dimensions of its Quality Assurance Framework as defined below.

Performance Criteria Definition Ref. Page

Relevance of Information

The degree to which statistical information meets the needs of clients. Information must shed light on the issues of most importance to those who use it.  The information produced is needed to support policy formulation and decision-making or to meet emerging issues. Changes are also made to statistical programs, based on external advice, to produce more relevant information for the users.

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Accuracy of Information

The degree to which that statistical information correctly describes the phenomena it was designed to measure. It is usually characterized in terms of statistical estimate errors and is traditionally decomposed into bias (systematic error) and variance (random error) components. It may also be described in terms of the major sources of error that potentially cause inaccuracy: incomplete survey coverage, sampling error, nonresponse (as indicated by response rates), and statistical revision patterns.

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Timeliness of Information

The delay between the end of the reference period to which the information pertains and the date on which the information becomes available. Adherence to pre-announced release dates for regular series is the Department's main performance measure of timeliness of information. These dates are clearly advertised for the coming year in Statistics Canada's website at www.stat

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Accessibility of Information

The ease with which statistical information can be obtained. This includes the ease as well as the suitability of the form or medium in accessing the information. Access through the Media and Access through the Internet are the two main performance indicators under this criterion.

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Interpretability of Information

Depends on the availability of the supplementary information and metadata necessary to interpret and utilize statistical information appropriately. This information normally covers the underlying concepts, variables and classification used, the methodology of data collection and processing, and indications of the accuracy of the statistical information.


Coherence of Information

The degree to which statistical information can be successfully brought together with other statistical information within a broad analytic framework and over time. The use of standard concepts, classifications and target populations promotes coherence, as does the use of common methodology across surveys.

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Relevance of Statistical Information

In the 2006-2007 Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP), the Department indicated that a number of activities were planned to ensure that statistical programs continue to provide statistical information to inform policy formulation and decision making (Section II of the RPP) as well as to meet emerging issues and new challenges. In addition, a number of changes to their statistical programs have been made as a result of direct client feedback and external advice.

This section provides a description of initiatives completed in 2006-2007 with regard to the relevance of statistical information. Survey findings have been summarized and for the reader interested in more detailed findings, a hyperlink to the Department's website has been provided. The information covers the three activities that form the program side of Statistics Canada's mandate: economic statistics; social statistics and census statistics.

The relevance section of this report highlights major achievements in new and emerging areas of statistical measurement. The Department publishes, as part of its ongoing program, statistical information for 29 major economic indicators (ex. Labour Force Survey, Consumer Price Index, Gross Domestic Product) and other statistics, which are highly relevant to Canadians as they are used to develop social, environmental, monetary and economic policies for Canada. A list of the 29 economic indicators is available at the following address:

Economic Statistics

Modernizing Customs and Trade

Performance Criterion: Relevance
Produce information to required to meet new issues and emerging challenges

The funds received in fiscal year 2006-07 allowed the Tourism Statistics Program to undertake activities required for the Customs Border Modernization Initiatives. These activities included:

  • Statistics Canada initiated the negotiations of our data requirements for the new stream of NEXUS travellers in order to put in place the means to: extract traveller and border crossing information available in or captured by the NEXUS system, confidentially transmit the data to Statistics Canada (STC) and process and integrate the data into the tourism statistics program. This activity should be completed in fiscal year 2007-08.
  • A joint CBSA/STC working group is redesigning the customs declaration card to make it more scanner-friendly and automate the sorting of the cards at Statistics Canada.  The main objectives of the redesign is to save processing time and money and eliminate the need to manually sort the cards before they are shipped by CBSA to Statistics Canada, as currently specified in the Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations.
  • CBSA is in the process of replacing the Primary Automated Lookup System (PALS) currently used at major land ports with a new system called the Integrated Primary Inspection Line (IPIL). Statistics Canada initiated discussions on changes to be made to the IPIL system in order to improve the quality of the data collected on incoming car travellers to Canada and to obtain data that better meet our requirements.

The data obtained from CBSA provide the most reliable statistics available on international travellers from and to Canada. These statistics are used to support studies on the economic impact of tourism and monitor the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. They are also used in the System of National Accounts, providing statistics for the Balance of payments and for the non-resident sector.  The modernization activities have serious repercussions on the capacity of the Tourism Statistics Program to meet these data requirements, and on-going work is required on the part of the Tourism Statistics Program to ensure the production of relevant and accurate statistics that are consistent over time.

Environmental sustainability indicators

Performance Criterion: Relevance
Produce information to support informed policy formulation and decision making

Statistics Canada continues to work closely with Environment Canada and Health Canada to produce the annual Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) report.  This document informs Canadians about the air and freshwater quality in country.  It also provides the latest information on greenhouse gas emissions from Canada, making it an important point of reference for the climate change analysis.

In November 2006, the second edition of this report was released to the public.  The following are highlights of the paper:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions have increased 27% between 1990 and 2004, to a level 35% higher than Kyoto targets.  Rapid growth in the Canadian economy has contributed to the continued rise in greenhouse gases.  In fact, overall emissions have jumped despite the fact that individual Canadian businesses have become more efficient, producing less greenhouse gas per unit of production. 
  • Exposure to ground-level ozone, a key component of smog, has inched up over the years.  In Southern Ontario, where smog problems are the worst, there has been a clear upward trend in ozone concentrations.  Although there has been no upward trend in exposure to another important smog component, "fine particulate matter", like ozone it is also present in higher concentrations in Southern Ontario.
  • At one in five water quality monitoring sites in southern Canada, freshwater quality was determined to have a "poor" ability to support aquatic life.  In northern, low populated, parts of the country no "poor" sites were reported.  Generally as one moves downstream in the Great Lakes, water quality deteriorates.  Water quality in Lake Superior was judged to be excellent, good in Lake Huron, and a mix of good to marginal in Lake Erie.  The water in Lake Ontario was only "marginal" in its capacity to support aquatic life.

The November 2006 report is available via the link:

Services Producer Price Index (SPPI)

Performance Criterion: Relevance
Produce information required to meet new issues and emerging challenges

On March 29, 2005, funding was approved to develop the Services Producer Price Index (SPPI) over the next five years and fill one of the last major remaining gaps in price index coverage. The SPPI program already produces several series; accounting services, computer systems design, couriers and messengers services, data processing services, engineering services, software products development, long-distance wired telecommunications and traveler accommodation.

Significant progress was made over the last year. Price data are now being collected for wholesale services, truck transportation, non-residential rents and machinery and equipment rental and leasing.

Pilot tests were launched for price surveys in development for non-life insurance and retail services. Conceptual work and survey development has started for telephone and other telecommunications, other professional, scientific and technical services, rail transport of freight, rental of automobiles and trucks, and commissions, investment banking and securities dealing, and brokers.

Developing the SPPI program will result in a more accurate deflation of service activity in GDP,  a more comprehensive and robust set of measures of inflation (goods and services are measured), and more appropriate international comparability in the areas of productivity, inflation and trade.

An Information System for Science and Technology (Data Gaps Initiative)

Performance Criterion: Relevance
Produce information to support informed policy formulation and decision making

Survey of Innovation 2005

The first results from the Survey of Innovation were released on June 2, 2006. A study of innovation and the global supply chains used the 2005 data to find that more than one half of manufacturing plants were involved in a global supply chain.  Those plants that were large plants, or innovative, were more likely to be involved in global supply chains and innovative plants that were part of global supply chains were more likely to have world first innovations. A study by Industry Canada and UNU-MERIT found that plants that benefited both from R&D tax credits and R&D grants introduced more new products, made more world-first innovations, and were more successful in commercialization than their counterparts that benefited only from R&D tax incentives.  A number of other studies are underway. Details on the release can be found at:

An OECD project is aimed at comparing innovation in Canada with that in other OECD countries. Canada is committed to undertaking econometric modeling in order to study the link between innovation and productivity and a first phase of the project is completed.  This extends work done with data from the Survey of Innovation 1999 which showed that while Canadian firms were more innovative than firms from selected European countries, the European firms made more money.

First findings from the surveys of Intellectual Property Commercialization in the Higher Education Sector (2004) and in the federal government (2004-2005) were released in The Daily on October 4, 2006. A striking result was that hospitals were found to have the highest average income for active licences ($29,000) compared to $25,000 for the higher education sector as a whole. Details on the release can be found at:

First findings from the first survey of Business Incubators in Canada were released in The Daily on March 27, 2006. Business incubators help firm make the first step towards commercial success. In 2005, there were at least 83 operating business incubators and they generated funds totalling over $45 million.  Their almost 900 client firms raise revenues in excess of $93 million while creating full and part-time employment for over 13,000 persons. Another indicator of the positive impact of incubation firms was that 2,958 client companies had generated revenues at the end of the year.  Details on the release can be found at:

Size and persistence of research and development performance in Canadian firms.

A study based on data from the Research and Development in Canadian Industry revealed that between 1994 and 2002, 31,190 firms performed research and development (R&D) for at least one year.  The striking finding was that 41% of these firms performed less than $100,000 worth of R&D a year and were present for just one or two years. This raised questions about how the R&D was being performed and commercialized by these firms. This has given rise to a new project on understanding commercialization in the private sector.

Blue Sky II – What indicators for science, technology and innovation policies in the 21st century?

Performance Criterion: Relevance
Produce information required to meet new issues and emerging challenges

Over 250 experts from 25 countries gathered  in Ottawa, on September 25-27 2006, to participate in the second Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Forum to examine new areas for indicator development and to set a broad agenda for future work on science, technology and innovation (STI) indicators at the OECD, and in Canada. Emphasis was placed on indicators of outcomes and impacts in order to be able to tell the story about what happens when countries invest in R&D or innovation. In a keynote address the science advisor to the President of the United States, Dr. John Marburger, called for the creation of a new social science devoted to the science of science and innovation policy. This suggestion has been supported by U.S. National Science Foundation which is now funding research in the science of science policy. The Forum was an international collaboration sponsored by the OECD, the U.S. National Science Foundation, Industry Canada, and Statistics Canada. All of the papers are on the OECD web site and the influence of the Forum continues to grow.

Where are the scientists and engineers?

One of the directions of the Blue Sky Forum as towards better information on highly qualified people and this led to an analysis of the 2001 Census of Population data. It found that employed scientists and engineers (S&E) with earned doctorate degrees (PhD) were more concentrated in urban areas than the total employed Canadian labour force. Nine out of every ten science and engineering doctorate holders resided in a census metropolitan area (CMA). While this was not surprising, it was interesting that  Canadian-born PhD holders were concentrated in non-S&E fields, whereas the immigrant PhDs were more heavily concentrated in S&E fields. The work will continue with 2006 Census of Population data. More detail can be found at:

Socioeconomic Indicators of "Connectedness" (Data Gaps Initiative)

Performance Criterion: Relevance
Produce information required to meet emerging issues and new challenges

Use of Internet by individuals

The first results from the Canadian Internet Use Survey (CIUS) were published in August for Internet use and socio demographic characteristics of individuals and in November 2006 for individual involvement in e-commerce. This survey was redesigned in 2005 in response to shifts in national and international interests, in order to focus on individual Internet use and to provide better understanding and assessment of impacts of Internet on society. To ensure both financial viability of the survey and the wide use of the data, federal departments and agencies were sought as funding partners and as data users.

Two-thirds of adult Canadians surfed the Internet in 2005, and those living in larger cities were much more likely to have done so than those in rural areas and small towns. Only 58% of residents living in small towns or rural areas accessed the Internet, well below the 68% national average. The survey also showed that the Internet has changed the way many Canadians do business and interact with government. Roughly 6 of every 10 Internet users (58%) used it from home to conduct their banking online, 55% used it to pay bills and 43% made orders online.

.Beyond those initial differences in Internet access though, there are significant gaps among various groups concerning frequency, intensity and type of activity. For instance, women (63%) were more likely than men (53%) to use Internet from home to search for medical or health related information. In contrast, men (56%) were more likely than women (48%) to use Internet from home to search for information on governments, especially in order to access government programs, download forms and file income taxes online.

Details on these releases can be found at: and

Individuals and e-commerce

The Canadian Internet Use Survey confirmed the growing popularity of on-line shopping. In 2005, almost 7 million Canadians aged 18 and over placed close to 50 million on-line orders for goods and services worth just over $7.9 billion. About three quarters of them reported paying directly over the Internet, this despite the fact that a vast majority of them remained concerned about Internet privacy and security. Slightly over 9 million logged on to do some window shopping. Travel services such as hotel reservations and car rentals were the most common type of order, followed closely by books, magazines, and digital products.

  • Canadian vendors had a slight edge in on-line orders. About 57% of the electronic orders were placed with a Canadian vendor and these orders represented 63%, or just under $5 billion, of the total value of on line orders. However, there is a message about competitiveness in the fact that 37% of the value of the orders went abroad.

Fuel consumption module in the Canadian Vehicle Survey

Performance Criterion: Relevance
Produce information required to meet new issues and emerging challenges

The Canadian Vehicle Survey measures road use by vehicles registered in Canada. The fuel consumption module provides data on the actual amount of fuel consumed by individual Canadian vehicles and will facilitate better aggregate measures of fuel consumption, fuel demand and vehicle emissions.  Actual measures of road motor vehicle fuel consumption and efficiency will become increasingly important, both from the perspective of greenhouse gas emission measurement and as international demand for fuels increases.

In January 2007, collection began on a larger sample of light vehicles in select census metropolitan areas (CMAs).  This is to enable the production of annual estimates of vehicle fuel consumption for households at the CMA level.

Survey of Regulatory Compliance Costs

Performance Criterion: Relevance
Produce information required to meet emerging issues and new challenges

This survey was conducted on behalf of Industry Canada as part of the Government of Canada's Paperwork Burden Reduction Initiative (PBRI). The goal of this interdepartmental initiative is to identify ways of reducing paper burden on small businesses in Canada. Paper burden according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is reported to be one of the most significant irritants to businesses in Canada, especially smaller businesses which are least equipped to deal with regulatory burden.

The survey focuses on administrative compliance requirements such as completing forms and reporting information. It did not attempt to measure other regulatory burden components such as capital costs incurred to comply with regulations. Survey coverage was limited to 5 industrial sectors, 11 regulations, and small- and medium-sized establishments with fewer than 500 employees and revenues of between $30,000 and $50 million. Survey estimates are available for five regions: the Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies, and British Columbia.

The five industrial sectors selected from the North American Industrial Classification System sectors were: manufacturing; retail; professional, scientific and technical services; accommodation and food services; and other services (except public administration).
The 11 regulations in-scope for this survey are payroll remittances, record of employment, T4 summary/individual T4s, workers' compensation remittances and claims, T1/T2 income tax filing, federal/provincial sales taxes, corporate tax instalments, corporate registration, mandatory Statistics Canada surveys, municipal operating licences and permits and provincial licences and permits.

Small- and medium-sized businesses in five industrial sectors spent an estimated $1.53 billion last year filling out forms to comply with 11 key government information obligations. Businesses in these sectors account for approximately 40% of the revenue for small- and medium-sized businesses across all industrial sectors.

The survey also showed that as businesses become larger in terms of employment, total compliance cost increases, yet compliance costs per employee drop. Larger businesses also outsource a larger percentage of their compliance costs. Income tax filing accounted for 41%, or $627 million, of total compliance costs, followed by federal/provincial sales tax filing, which represented 17%, or $268 million. Payroll remittances accounted for 14%. Other findings show significant regional variations in average annual compliance costs.

The government recently announced its commitment to reduce regulatory compliance costs by 20%. This survey will serve as a benchmark to establish the current cost of regulatory compliance. Repeat surveys every 3 years as part of an existing MOU with Industry Canada will allow the PBRI to determine whether future efficiency measures introduced by government are reducing the compliance burden facing businesses. For more information see the release at:

Social Statistics

Health Statistics

Performance Criterion: Relevance
Produce information to support informed policy formulation and decision making

Projects initiated under the Canadian Health Information Roadmap were designed to produce new, timely and relevant information on the health of Canadians. This information is central to the relatively intense public discussion and policy formulation related to Canadians' health and to our health care system. Statistics Canada, in partnership with several organizations, has developed and produced critical information on emerging issues

Canadian's eating habits

In July 2006, Statistics Canada released initial results from the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey – Nutrition, the first rigorous statistical portrait of Canadian's diets in three decades. During 2004, in face-to-face interviews, over 35,000 people were asked to recall all that they had eaten over a 24-hour period. Not surprisingly, there were significant gaps between Canadian's food intake and recommended intakes to achieve health benefits. Over one-quarter of Canadians aged 31 to 50 obtained more than 35% of their calories from fat, the threshold beyond which health risks increase. Seven out of ten children and half of all adults did not eat the recommended daily minimum of five servings of vegetables and fruit. More than one-third of children aged four to nine did not have the minimum recommended two servings of milk products a day. By age 30, more than two-thirds of Canadians did not have the recommended minimum servings of milk products. Canadians of all ages got more than one-fifth of their calories from food and beverages that are not part of the four major groups. Snacks, that is food and drink consumed between meals, accounted for more calories than breakfast, and about the same calories as lunch.

Canadians still gaining weight, but the pace is slowing

Obesity is a major public health issue due to a rising prevalence in the population and the relationship between obesity and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, osteoarthritis and heart disease. New data from the fifth cycle of the National Population Health Survey released in November, 2006, showed that every two years from 1996-97 until 2004-05 Canadians were heavier on average, however the pace of weight gain has slowed. The deceleration in weight gain observed in the most recent two-year period was related to a decrease in the proportion of men who gained weight and an increase in the amount of weight loss among women who lost weight. The exception was men aged 18-33 who gained more weight on average from 2002-03 to 2004-05 than in the previous two-year intervals.

Exposure to second-hand smoke

Widespread smoking bans in public places appear to have considerably reduced the risk of exposure to second-hand smoke across Canada. Still, millions of Canadians had a regular brush with second-hand smoke according to the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS).The survey, which covered 130,000 people, also showed a substantial decline in the smoking rate, especially among teenagers. Overall, an estimated 5.9 million people, or 22% of the population aged 12 and older, were smokers last year, down slightly from 23% in 2003 and 26% in 2000/2001. The sharpest decline was among young people aged 12 to 17. On the downside, about 15% of non-smokers aged 12 and over told the survey in 2005 that they were exposed to second-hand smoke in a public place regularly, that is, every day or almost every day. This was down from 20% in 2003, but it still represented one out of every seven non-smoking Canadians, or about 3.1 million people. Since the survey was taken, several provinces have passed anti-smoking legislation.

Access to primary health care

Access to first contact services is a key performance indicator established by federal and provincial governments to evaluate progress made in primary health care reform. Data from the 2003 Canadian Community Health Survey showed that 15% of Canadians reported difficulties accessing routine care and 23% reported difficulties accessing immediate care for a minor health problem. The chief reason cited for difficulties in accessing routine care was the availability of a physician or services. Long wait times were the primary barrier to receiving immediate care for minor health problems. Further, Canadians who did not have a regular family physician were more than twice as likely to report difficulties accessing routine health care, compared to those with a regular doctor. However, the study also showed that respondents with a regular family doctor were just as likely to face difficulties accessing immediate care for a minor health problem as were those without a regular family doctor. While it is important to have a regular doctor, the results of the study indicate that having one does not always guarantee that patients will have access to care for all types of services at all times.

Caring for diabetes

Diabetes is currently the seventh leading cause of death in Canada. About 1.3 million Canadians over age 12, 5% of the population, reported that they had been diagnosed with diabetes according to the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey. Rates were significantly higher than the national average in the eastern provinces. Individuals with diabetes in five provinces – Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Ontario and Manitoba – were asked a set of questions to determine how well guidelines for care were followed. One in five diabetic patients had not had their blood glucose tested by a health care professional in the year prior to the survey. A key factor in having this test was access to a regular medical doctor. Most met recommendations for eye examinations, but only half met requirements for annual foot examinations.

Depression and work impairment

Depression stands out as an important occupational health issue. Data from the 2002 Canadian Community Health Survey, which focused on mental health and well-being, revealed that about half a million Canadian workers experienced depression and 79% of them indicated that the symptoms interfered with their ability to work. About 20% reported a very severe degree of interference. The workers most prone to depression were those who regularly worked evening or night shifts, along with those employed in sales or service. Depressed workers reported an average of 32 days in the previous year when their symptoms left them either unable to carry out normal daily activities or totally unable to work. Further, for workers of both sexes, high stress on and off the job was associated with depression. However, the mental health of male workers was more vulnerable to stress arising from the work environment. and

Research Partnership involving Ministries of Health and Statistics Canada

Performance Criterion: Relevance
Produce information required to meet emerging issues and new challenges

Statistics Canada has been in consultations with provincial and territorial ministries responsible for health care and public health to develop a partnership between these ministries and Statistics Canada for the purpose of undertaking research requiring assembly and linkage of administrative data routinely collected through the health care system within itself and with data collected through Statistics Canada surveys, such as the Canadian Community Health Survey and the National Population Health Survey and with other registry data held at Statistics Canada such as the national Vital Statistics. This joint project is evolving into the Longitudinal Health and Administrative Data (LHAD) Initiative. The Initiative Partners will determine the research agenda that would provide pan-Canadian and comparative information across provinces and territories to improve understanding of relationships among risk factors, socio-economic characteristics, other determinants of health, health status measures and health care utilization.

The first priority for Statistics Canada is to improve identifiable data on hospitalization visits. While the provinces provide CIHI with data on the dates of interventions and records for day surgery and ambulatory care, this information has not been routinely provided to the Agency. Statistics Canada also proposes to begin gathering data for one additional provincial health care record, such as routinely collected and computerized data on prescribed medications. The intention is to enable a range of analysis based on linking these data to health survey data.

Canadian Health Measures Survey

Performance Criterion: Relevance
Produce information required to meet new issues and emerging challenges

To address longstanding limitations within Canada's health information system, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada have supported Statistics Canada in obtaining funding for the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS), a "direct measures" health survey. Until now, Canada has relied on self-reported information to evaluate the health status of Canadians. The CHMS collects key information relevant to the health of Canadians by means of direct physical measurements such as blood pressure, height, weight, waist circumference, lung function and physical fitness. In addition, the survey collects blood and urine samples to test for infectious diseases, chronic diseases and nutrition and environmental markers. Information from the CHMS will help to evaluate the true extent of such major health problems as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and exposure to infectious diseases and to environmental contaminants. Information will be collected from 5,000 Canadians, including children from the age of 6 to adults aged 79, and will be provided at the national level.

Collection began in March 2007 and will be ongoing until late winter 2009. Initial response rates are very good, and data indicate that survey respondents participate in all direct measures for which they qualify. Initial data release is planned for early 2010. Statistics Canada is working with its partners Health Canada and the public Health Agency of Canada to secure on-going funding and to explore options to enhance the scope of high priority indicators of interest to main stakeholders.

Child Centered Family Law Strategy

Performance Criterion: Relevance
Produce information to support informed policy formulation and decision making

In 2003/2004, the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS) embarked upon a five-year project to develop and implement two large microdata surveys:  the Survey of Maintenance Enforcement Programs and the Civil Court Survey.  Funding was received through Justice Canada's "Child-Centered Family Law Strategy". 

During 2006/2007, the CCJS began work on four new implementation projects and by year's end, there were five provinces and territories reporting to each survey.  Consultations took place with CCJS' federal-provincial-territorial partners to ensure that the first public release of the Civil Court Survey data in 2007/2008 is responsive to their needs.   Data from the Survey of Maintenance Enforcement Programs were released for the second consecutive year as part of an annual publication and considerable progress was made on the development, programming and testing of standard output tables for this survey. and

Labour Force Survey

Performance Criterion: Relevance
Produce information to required to meet emerging issues and new challenges

The outputs from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) are highly watched sources of public information particularly through headliner monthly statistics such as the unemployment rate and net employment change.  In order to further increase the surveys relevance, and produce new, timely and relevant information on the labour market conditions of Canadians, new content was added to the survey to identify immigrants and Aboriginals living off-reserve.   Given the ever-increasing importance of the contributions of these groups to Canada's economic success, the LFS is now able to provide regular information on their labour market performance.  This information will enable various levels of government, the media and the public to know, in a timely manner, how well immigrants and Aboriginals are performing in the labour market and how well the labour market is able to utilize their skills.

National Aboriginal data

Starting in late 2003 in Alberta, and then in April 2004 for the rest of western Canada and the northern territories, the LFS added questions to identify Aboriginal respondents living off-reserve with the goal of producing provincial labour market statistics on the Aboriginal population.   The first data from this initiative were released in June 2005 and were well received by our provincial clients and the media. 

The study found that current trends signal an improvement in the labour market performance of Aboriginal people. Aboriginal people in Western Canada are starting to benefit from increasingly tight labour market conditions, particularly in Alberta and British Columbia. Aboriginal employment increased 23% between 2001 and 2005, twice the rate of growth for non-Aboriginals (11%).  Although the data showed a marked improvement from the time of the 2001 Census, the unemployment rate for Aboriginal people remained two and a half times higher than the rate for non-Aboriginal people. Pockets of very high unemployment exist for First Nations, Aboriginal youth, and the lesser educated. The Aboriginal labour market in Saskatchewan was particularly weak. 

These Aboriginal data questions were permanently added to the LFS for the remaining provinces beginning in January 2007. While users were extremely pleased by this development, the challenge will be to assess the quality of the new data and barring any data quality issues, plan for the first release of national estimates from the LFS for mid 2008.

Expanded territorial coverage – making LFS truly national

In August 2006, the first results from the Nunavut LFS were released and with this come the thirteenth piece of the LFS.  This release presented data for the "Ten Largest Communities" in Nunavut, representing 70% of the territorial population.  These new data showed a relatively low employment rate and high unemployment for the territory. The situation is very different in the other two territories, where employment and unemployment are comparable to the western provinces.

Following discussions with the Nunavut Bureau of Statistics to assess the feasibility of expanding territorial coverage, an expansion plan was agreed to that will see coverage increase to approximately 90% of the territory, and is currently planned to begin in January 2008.

Immigrant labour force data

Performance Criterion: Relevance
Produce information to required to meet emerging issues and new challenges

 Working closely with Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Human Resource and Social Development Canada, Statistics Canada added a series of questions to the LFS that would for the first time, collect on-going labour market data on immigrants to Canada. Beginning in January 2006, questions were added to the monthly LFS in order to identify immigrants, to determine when they landed in Canada, and the country in which they received their highest level of education. The first release of LFS immigrant data is scheduled for mid September 2007.  This report will include a demographic profile of immigrants as well as the labour market outcomes of core working-age immigrants, by province, selected census metropolitan areas and by sex.  The labour market outcomes for immigrant youths and older immigrants will be included, in a addition to a discussion of education-based outcomes, the industries in which these immigrants work, as well as their occupations.

This initial release will be followed by a series of articles on the labour market situation of immigrants and address the following issues: does country or region of origin, or country or region of education shed light on the successes or difficulties of immigrants; are immigrants in jobs that make use of their skills; job quality and wages.

Literacy in official language minorities

Performance Criterion: Relevance
Produce information required to meet new issues and emerging challenges

A research report was published on literacy in official language minorities. Using 2003 data from the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey: Building on our Competencies (IALSS), the abstract clearly shows that Francophones from outside Quebec do not perform as well as their Anglophone counterparts on tests used to assess their literacy. The situation with Quebec's Anglophone minority is essentially the same as for those in the other provinces. A number of factors account for the differences between Francophones and Anglophones in Canada. For historical and cultural reasons, Francophones have generally been much less educated than their Anglophone counterparts. But while the level of education may explain much of the difference between the language groups, Francophones are less likely than Anglophones to develop good day-to-day reading and writing skills.

Source:  The Canadian Component of the 2003 International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey: The Situation of Official Language Minorities

Postcensal Surveys

Performance Criterion: Relevance
Produce information to support informed policy formulation and decision making
  • The Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS) and Aboriginal Children's Survey (ACS) off-reserve were successfully conducted off reserve. Refusal rates for both surveys were very low, 6% for ACS and 8% for APS.  Release of the data is scheduled for the fall of 2008.

    The On-Reserve Aboriginal Peoples and Aboriginal Children's Survey is being discussed with the funding federal departments. Work on the development of an on-reserve component of the APS and ACS progressed slowly due to challenges in securing endorsement by First Nations organizations in the development of this survey. The plan to carry out such a survey continues to be a progressive approach, working over the next four years with First Nation communities willing to participate in the survey.
  • The Postcensal Survey on the Vitality of Official Language Minorities (SVOLM) completed collection in January 2007.  The survey has two main objectives: the first is to collect information about areas that are priorities for official-language minorities, such as education, health and justice; the second is to produce information which will assist various departments and agencies in policy development and program implementation. Collection went well, with an overall response rate of 72.6% (slightly lower than was the targeted 75%). The first data release is planned for December 2007, with subsequent releases to occur in 2008. 

    The Postcensal Survey on Activity Limitations (PALS) completed collection in February 2007.  While overall response rates at 75% are slightly lower than expected (78%), the collection will support the level of dissemination that was planned for this survey.  The first data release is planned for December 2007, with subsequent releases to occur in 2008.

Seniors in Canada

Performance Criterion: Relevance
Produce information to support informed policy formulation and decision making

A Portrait of Seniors in Canada was released in February 2007, providing a statistical overview of the demographic characteristics, health and wellness, security, activities and participation of the population aged 65 and over. In addition to documenting variations in the characteristics of 'younger' and 'older' seniors, the report identifies key trends over time.
Some of the highlights from this report are:

  • The group referred to as 'seniors' is already very heterogeneous and will become even more so in years ahead as seniors are living longer. 

  • The number of 'young seniors' – persons aged 65 to 74 – will almost double over next 20 years, increasing from about 2.3 million to about 4.5 million.

  • Likewise, the number of Canadians aged 85 plus will nearly double, rising from about 500,000 in 2006 to about 900,000 in 2026.

  • The share of seniors (aged 65+) with a post-secondary credential increased from 18% to 31% between 1990 and 2005. Among the next cohort of seniors (Canadians currently aged 55 to 64) about half have a post-secondary credential.

  • The share of women aged 65 to 74 who are widowed declined from 37% to 28% between 1981 and 2001, while the shares who are divorced has increased.

  • Rates of low-income have declined markedly among seniors over the past 25 years. The rate of low-income among senior couples declined from 20.1% to 5.4% between 1980 and 2003. The rate among unattached women declined from 72.2% to 41.0%.

  • Considering one aspect of physical well-being, the rate of obesity among seniors aged 65 to 74 increased from 20% to 25% between 1978 and 2004 and from 11% to 24% among seniors aged 75 and over. Almost one-third (30%) of 'near-seniors' – persons aged 55 to 64 – are obese, up from 20% in 1978.

  • Seniors aged 65 to 74 are engaged in their communities. Three-quarters said they voted in the last federal, provincial and municipal election and 90% follow news/current affairs on a daily basis. Just over half are involved in a formal or informal group or organization that meets regularly.

Source: A Portrait of Seniors in Canada (89-519-XIE).

Analysis based on the General Social Survey

Performance Criterion: Relevance
Produce information to support informed policy formulation and decision making
  • Transitions from the family home to independence
    Young adults are leaving the nest later than their parents did. Living within a reconstituted family increases the likelihood of an early departure by 57% for females and 30% for males. Having three or more brothers or sisters also increases the likelihood of leaving home, by 20% for males and 13% for females. Other factors include geographic location, living in a rural or urban area, and education.

  • Commuting time
    The average Canadian now spends close to 12 full days a year commuting between home and work, or 63 minutes a day in 2005.  A higher proportion of workers spent more time than in 1998 on the commute between home and work; approximately 25% of workers spent 90 minutes or more on the commute in 2005, while only 17% did in 1992. Commuters who use their own cars for the trip take much less time than those using public transportation. In 2005, most (55%) workers made the trip in under 60 minutes, whereas only 13% of workers taking the bus or metro needed less than an hour – even for similar distances.

  • Paid and unpaid work
    The average workday of people aged 25 to 54, including paid and unpaid work, has gotten longer over the past two decades, rising to 8.8 hours in 2005 from 8.2 hours in 1986. More men now add domestic duties onto their paid work, whereas women are spending much more time at the office. Thus, there is still a gap in the allocation of work between men and women, but it is slowly shrinking.

Census Statistics

2006 Census of Population

Performance Criterion: Relevance
Produce information to support informed policy formulation and decision making

Census field collection activities were successfully completed on August 31, 2006.
While responding to the challenges of the new methodology for the 2006 Census, Statistics Canada kept the guiding principles of quality, timeliness, respondent confidentiality, making better use of technology and reducing the reliance on a large decentralized field workforce at the forefront.

Following the collection of the 2006 Census, regional collection teams successfully completed work on six post-censal surveys including: the Reverse Record Check (used to estimate coverage error), the Aboriginal Peoples Survey, the Aboriginal Children's Survey, the Health and Activity Limitations Survey, the Survey of Vitality of Language Minorities and the Maternal Experiences Survey. Statistics Canada extended the use of the Census call center site in Moncton New Brunswick in order to accommodate the increased workload. As most surveys had larger than anticipated tracing requirements, field collection was extended where necessary to ensure that response rates and quality targets were achieved.

The 2006 Census introduced the most significant ground breaking changes in the way the Census is carried out in some 35 years.  These changes responded to pressures that had built up over the past two decades and took advantage of opportunities made possible because of technological advancements, some of which had been pursued in other countries.  The Census collection activities in the field were completed on August 31, 2006 and the front-end processing by November 24, 2006.  The first census data release, population and dwelling counts, took place on March 13, 2007.

A  major objective for the 2006 Census was to reduce the reliance on a large, temporary and decentralized workforce required to complete the census in a very short duration. This led to the 2006 initiative to mail-out questionnaires using a field verified list of addresses, rather than having them dropped off by Census staff.  Questionnaires were successfully mailed out to 9.4 million dwellings (70% of all dwellings) across the country.  This, along with an internet response option, reduced the need for field staff from the 50,000 that the traditional approach would have required, to 27,000.  However, given the strong economy in some parts of the country, especially in parts of Alberta, there were significant challenges in recruiting and retaining field enumerators.  Only about 21,000 were hired, of which 17,000 were enumerators and only about a half of the enumerators worked more than 20 hours per week.  Measures were taken to ensure that quality and coverage were maintained, including re-allocating staff to areas for short durations to complete field enumeration.  In addition, the collection window was extended by six weeks to permit satisfactory completion of the collection phase. This extension caused the population and dwelling release to be scheduled for March 13, 2007, and not for February 2007 as had originally been planned.

The expectation of Canadians to deal with the government via Internet and the on-line initiative was addressed through a highly secure Internet response option that was offered to the vast majority of Canadians.  18.2% or 2.26 million Canadian households chose this manner of responding to the census (above the planned target of 2.1 million).  This compared with an Internet filing rate of less than 10% in both Australia and New Zealand in their 2006 Censuses. The internet application worked very well and was very secure, as attested by three independent security audits as well as an external task force headed by Denis Desautels, the former Auditor General of Canada.

In 2006, the Office of the Auditor General conducted an audit of large information technology (IT) projects.  The audit report indicated that the 2006 Census Online was one of two projects that met all criteria for well-managed projects.

Concerns raised in previous Censuses over the confidentiality and security of personal information that was received and verified by a  "local enumerator", were virtually eliminated by having all responses returned directly to a highly secure centralized Data Processing Centre with no intervening enumerator editing or handling. Teams of enumerators followed-up only with households that failed to return a questionnaire.  Data capture from paper questionnaires, performed by Canada Revenue Agency since 1981, was replaced by automated capture techniques.  Enumerator edits were automated and follow-up with respondents whose information was deemed to be incomplete, was done through a computer assisted application from 3 regional census help sites.  Over 10 million paper forms were scanned producing 110 million images for automated data capture, and integrated with 2.5 million electronic forms for automated editing and coding, in a timeframe of about 5 months and with accuracies meeting or surpassing those achieved in 2001.  The Data Processing Centre was run exclusively by STC staff with no major outages of services.

The public communications program was highly effective in conveying the importance of full participation in the Census.  The census relies heavily on the public communications support provided by governments, businesses, ethnic and cultural groups and community organizations of all kinds.  Estimates indicate that approximately 2,500 public and private sector organizations supported the census in 2006 and that these supporters were responsible for more than 2.4 billion messages about the census going out to Canadians.  This widespread support is clearly a reflection of the importance that is attached to Census data.

The population and dwelling counts from the 2006 Census were released on March 13, 2007 (hyperlink below).

The feedback from this first release was overwhelmingly positive, due largely to the good collaboration with the media prior to the release.  This preparatory work with the national media and a concerted effort by regional communication teams lead to high level of coverage on television, radio, on the internet and in print.  Efforts were also made to ensure local community and third language media were covered.

The first 2006 Census release showed that between 2001 and 2006, Canada's population increased 5.4%, the first time since 1991 that the census-to-census growth rate has accelerated.  This rate of growth was faster than any other member of the G8 group of industrialized nations in the same time period.  Two provinces, Alberta and Ontario, were responsible for two-thirds of the increase in Canada's population.  Alberta, in the midst of an unprecedented economic boom, led the provinces with a growth rate of 10.6%.  Barrie was the fastest growing census metropolitan area (CMA), with Calgary coming in second.  In total, the 2006 Census enumerated 31,612,897 people in Canada, compared with 30,007,094 in 2001, a gain of just over 1.6 million individuals since the last census.

Overall, the 2006 Census achieved all of its objectives set out in addressing the challenges long facing the Census.  The evaluations and lessons learned are underway and the findings will shape the next Census in 2011, which is expected to build on the successful approach followed in 2006.

Census of Agriculture

Performance Criterion: Relevance
Produce information to support informed policy formulation and decision making

The Census of Agriculture released its farm and operator data (over 300 variables) on May 16, 2007, one year after Census Day. The Census of Agriculture wrapped up validation and certification of the 2006 data in mid-March 2007.

This was the first time operator data were released this early, and also the first time that all data down to the census consolidated subdivision level were available to the general public for free online.

The 2006 Census of Agriculture showed that the number of census farms in Canada continues to drop, declining 7.1% to 229,373 farms over the five year period between censuses. This represents 17,550 fewer farms than in 2001. Yet the drop in farm numbers belies a sector (with some 327,060 operators according to the latest census) that continues to show resilience. The stability of the Canadian agricultural land base between 2001 and 2006, at 167 million acres, is one indication that agriculture continues to adapt. Another sign of adaptation is the increase in the number of farms with gross farm receipts of $250,000 or more (at 2005 constant prices), up 13.8% since 2001, while those with less than $250,000 in receipts declined by 10.5%. For the complete picture of the census results visit the website.

Work is well underway for the 2011 census, as content consultations within Agriculture Division are already complete and external consultations are planned for October.

Accuracy of Statistical Information

The accuracy of statistical information is the degree to which that information correctly describes the phenomena it was designed to measure. It is usually characterized in terms of statistical estimate errors and is traditionally broken down into two components: bias (systematic error) and variance (random error). It may also be described in terms of the major sources of error that potentially cause inaccuracy: incomplete survey coverage, sampling error, nonresponse (as indicated by response rates), and statistical revision patterns.
Statistics Canada uses a wide range of statistical methodologies and quality assurance practices to manage and control errors. For the more critical statistical information—such as the population counts from the Census of Population, employment and unemployment measures, the Consumer Price Index and measures of economic production—more resources are applied to assure a high degree of accuracy. In addition, all hard copy and electronic data releases undergo 'institutional' quality verification within the Department to ensure that data users obtain sound products. There are, however, limits to the degree of accuracy that can be achieved at a realistic cost. All statistical data, regardless of the source, are subject to some degree of error.

Statistics Canada's Policy on Informing Users of Data Quality and Methodology ( requires each data release to be accompanied by, or make reference to, descriptions of methodology. The definitions, data sources and methods used for all Statistics Canada's surveys can be accessed on the website:

Survey Coverage

Performance Criteria: Accuracy of Statistical Information
Survey Coverage

Every survey has a target population, which is the set of elements about which information is required. The survey frame is the concrete set of units that delimits, identifies and allows access to the elements of the target population. Coverage errors occur when there are discrepancies between the target population and its corresponding survey frame due to omissions, erroneous inclusions, duplications and misclassifications of units in the survey frame. Such errors may cause a bias in the estimates produced from the survey. The accuracy of survey frames is crucial to the accuracy of survey results.

Business Surveys: Business Register Redesign

The Business Register is a central repository containing all significantly active businesses in Canada, together with contact and classification information for these businesses. The majority of Statistics Canada's economic surveys rely on the Business Register to carry out their activities, particularly with respect to sampling, data collection and the production of estimates. The Register is a key component of the Department's economic statistics program.

The Register's overall structure and technological environment were established more than two decades ago. In 2005-2006, Statistics Canada began a complete redesign of the Register in order to ensure its ongoing capacity to fulfill its mission in the years to come. The primary objectives of this redesign are to simplify and update the concepts as well as the operational processes, to facilitate the use of the Register through the utilization of more modern, user-friendly technology, and to enhance the timeliness of the information included in the Register. This modernization will also help reduce the operating costs of the Register and increase Statistics Canada's capacity to effectively manage the business response burden, which continues to be an ongoing Departmental priority.

The redesign of the Business Register is a three-year project. During its first two years, work progressed as planned at all levels, specifically in the following areas:

  • the revision of the conceptual framework,
  • the definition of the new operational processes,
  • the development of the technological architectures,
  • building all of the components of the new Register and their implementation,
  • the finalization and start of the implementation of the plan that will allow the surveys to make the transition from the old to the new Register,
  • the development of a training program that will be delivered to more than one thousand employees in the Bureau over the coming year as a result the new procedures and technological tools of the new Register.

Completion of  the redesign of the Register is anticipated by spring 2008, as planned.

Household Surveys

Many household surveys, including the Labour Force Survey (LFS), make use of a common area frame that covers all of the geography of Canada's provinces and territories, with some exceptions1. A sample of geographic areas is randomly selected from this frame. Within the selected areas, households are chosen at random from compiled lists of dwellings and household members are contacted for data collection. Coverage problems can arise if some dwellings are missed in the lists, or if households in selected dwellings fail to report some of their members.

To minimize coverage errors and their effects in household surveys, Statistics Canada relies on a variety of statistical tools and methods, including the Address Register (AR). The AR contains the address, postal code and a geographic location code for 12 million residential dwellings. The main purpose of the AR is to provide information to support the data collection activities of both the Census and household survey programs at Statistics Canada, including the reduction of coverage errors. The majority of addresses on the AR come from current and previous Census enumeration activities. During the inter-censal period, a number of administrative sources of addresses, such as telephone billing files, are also used to supplement the census source.

The most recent redesign of the LFS sample, which was completed in 2004 based on the 2001 Census of population data, includes many methodological innovations aimed at improving both the quality and efficiency of the survey. One such improvement is the expanded use of the Address Register. In addition, the coverage of the LFS is monitored, in part, by comparing the estimate of total population obtained directly from the survey sample to the official population estimates. To minimize the effects of coverage errors, the survey estimates are statistically adjusted so that the published survey results cover the total population.

Some household surveys make use of a telephone frame. This is cost-effective for the vast majority of Canadian households but omits those that either have no telephone or have only cellular phones. Where needed, an area frame is used in combination with a telephone frame to improve coverage.

For surveys aimed at particular subsets of the population (for example, persons within certain age groups) an existing list frame of persons (or households) may be used. Such a list may have been derived from an administrative data source or, in the case of post-censal surveys, from the most recent Census of Population.

2006 Census

While several factors can influence census data accuracy, the accuracy is first affected by the degree to which persons are missed in the census (under coverage) or counted more than once (over coverage).  The two coverage studies, the Reverse Record Check and the Census Over coverage Study, are currently underway.  The data collection for the Reverse Record Check, a sample survey of 70,000 persons, started in January while the processing for the Census Over coverage Study, which searches for pairs of persons with identical characteristics on the census database, started last November.  Preliminary results are expected in March 2008 with the final results in September 2008.  The final results serve as a key input into the population estimates program upon which the social transfers and equalization payments to the provinces and territories (estimated at approximately $66.9 billion dollars in 2007-08) are based.

There has been a steady decrease in the number of incompletely enumerated Indian reserves and Indian settlements over the last three censuses nationally, from a total of 77 in 1996, 30 in 2001 and down to 22 in 2006.

Sampling Error

Performance Criteria: Accuracy of Statistical Information
Sampling Error

Most surveys are based on a sample of the target population. Sampling is an important means of achieving a more effective allocation of resources, ensuring appropriate relevance across programs, yielding more timely results, and in other ways improving data accuracy. Because of sampling, the Department is able to do more with less.

Estimates based on a sample can be expected to vary from sample to sample, and to differ from those that would result from a complete census. The expected size of these variations depends on the sample design, among other factors. Greater reliability is achieved by optimizing these sample designs.

The reliability of each estimate can be measured from the sample data. The measure of reliability that is most frequently provided to users is the 'coefficient of variation' (CV). A low CV means a high degree of statistical confidence in the reliability of the associated estimate. Conversely, a higher CV would mean a lower degree of statistical confidence in the reliability.

The coefficients of variation for the primary estimates or results from the Department's mission critical surveys are presented in Table 2.

Table 2: Coefficients of Variation for Mission Critical Surveys
Mission critical survey1

Coefficient of variation 


Labour Force Survey


Total employment



Total unemployment


Monthly Survey of Manufacturing

Total shipments


Monthly Wholesale Trade2

Total wholesale sales


Monthly Retail Trade2

Total retail sales


Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours



Quarterly Financial Survey

Total operating revenue


1. This table omits those mission critical surveys that do not use random sampling in producing their estimates (Consumer Price Index, International Trade and the Industrial Price Index).
2. The Monthly Wholesale and Retail Trade Surveys were redesigned and survey results released starting in fiscal year 2004-2005. A number of improvements were introduced which have lowered significantly the overall coefficient of variation for the surveys. The improvements include lower target coefficients for certain industry trade and geography groups, better sample stratification as a result of improved size measure for the population, enhanced edit procedures at collection and during analysis, and improved statistical treatment of non-response.

The coefficients of variation presented in the table above are all very low and thus the estimates are considered very reliable. This speaks to the importance of these programs. More disaggregated results from these programs would tend to have higher CVs since, typically, as the size of the sub-group of interest decreases, the CVs of the related estimates rise.

Response Rates

Performance Criteria: Accuracy of Statistical Information
Response rates

The accuracy of the data disseminated by Statistics Canada is directly related to the accuracy of the data provided by the respondents to the Department's surveys and censuses. It follows that an important indication of accuracy is the percentage of respondents asked to provide data who actually do so. Generally, the higher this response rate, the greater will be the accuracy of the survey results.
Overall response rates (expressed as a percentage of total sample) for the Department's mission critical surveys are presented in Table 3 below.

Table 3: Response Rates for Mission Critical Surveys
Mission critical survey1

Response rates

Labour Force Survey
Monthly Survey of Manufacturing 2
Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey3
Monthly Retail Trade Survey4
Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours
Quarterly Financial Survey5
Industrial Product Price Indexes6


1. This table omits the Consumer Price Index, International Trade and Quarterly Gross Domestic Product surveys, which do not collect data directly from respondents.
2. In 2004-2005, the lower response rate has been attributed to a number of factors: respondent apathy; consolidation of the Monthly Survey of Manufacturing (MSM) collection to two Regional Offices; transfer of more experienced staff in the Regional Offices to work on the Census of Population; and less experienced staff to work on the MSM.
3. For wholesale trade the decline in 2006-07 is partly the result of temporarily having some large non-respondents.
4. For retail trade the upward revision in 2005-06 as compared to previous observations for that same year is a result of the annual revision process.
5. Response rates for the Quarterly Financial Survey are based on annual averages; the data presented above for the most recent year will improve over time to reflect receipt of late responses and revisions.
6. For the IPPI, the entire time series was revised to reflect a simple or equal weighted response rate to be coherent with what is now the case for the majority of mission critical programs.

It is generally accepted that for most surveys, a 100% response rate is not a practical possibility. The Department ensures that reasonable efforts are made to achieve an acceptable response rate (as well as to obtain accurate responses) while producing timely data without undue burden on respondents and undue costs. Among a variety of methods, this is usually achieved by having good questionnaire design, using tested and proven procedures and operations, providing respondents with information on the purposes of the data collection, following up with non-respondents (for economic and business programs, the main focus of follow-up being the major contributors to the estimates), and making suitable statistical adjustments to the data when complete response is not achieved.

Clearly, obtaining complete and accurate response requires the co-operation and support of respondents. Information is published on the Department's website for survey participants (, explaining what they should expect when they participate in a survey, the importance of the survey, Statistics Canada's commitments for preserving the confidentiality of the information provided and a list of frequently asked questions about the survey.

2006 Census

The quality of the census count is impacted by response to the census.  The response rate for the 2006 Census is 96.5%.  Despite the many successes for the 2006 Census, this reflects a slight decline from 98.4% in 2001, but follows a consistent downward trend in survey response rates over the past few decades.  However, there are other factors that compensate for this drop and act to improve quality, such as responses via Internet where edit failure rates were much lower than on paper responses and use of tax data for respondents who provided consent to use their tax record instead of reporting income data, for 85% of long form respondents likely acted to improve accuracy.

Statistical Revision Patterns

Performance Criteria: Accuracy of Statistical Information
Statistical revision patterns

Economic and socio-economic time series are statistical records of the evolution of economic processes through time, generally compiled for consecutive periods such as months, quarters or years. Time series contribute greatly to understanding both the trends and underlying causes of social and economic phenomena. While revisions to statistical estimates are often necessary, they impact directly on users of statistical information by altering the users' understanding of these phenomena and, in turn, affecting their decision making.

Statistics Canada strives to minimize revisions to statistical estimates by facilitating reporting, ensuring that questionnaires are easily understood, making use of new technology to better accommodate respondents' ability to report, and conducting internal reviews to ensure that collection and data-processing procedures yield effective results.

An incomplete processing cycle is the main reason for revisions. Other planned activities, such as changes to classification systems or modifications to baskets of goods and services on which indices are based, also result in revisions. Revisions to Statistics Canada's series are made with a view to balancing the competing demands of accuracy and timeliness.

Table 4 indicates the average size and range (for 2006 only) of percentage revisions of some key programs. Average size of revision is defined as the absolute percentage revision averaged over the 12 (for monthly surveys) or four (for quarterly surveys) releases during the year. The last revised estimates before annual revisions are used in calculating revision sizes.

Table 4: Revisions of Mission Critical Programs in 2003, 2004 and 2005
Mission critical program1
Average size
of revision
of percentage revision

Monthly Survey of Manufacturing

Shipments Monthly
0.0 to 1.0

International Trade2

Total exports Monthly
-3.01 to 0.90
Total imports Monthly
-1.15 to 2.59

Monthly Wholesale Trade

Total wholesale sales Monthly
-0.40 to 0.67

Monthly Retail Trade

Total retail sales Monthly
-0.41 to -0.30

Real Gross Domestic Product3

GDP Quarterly
-0.2 to 0.0

Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours

Employment Monthly
-0.74 to 0.26

Quarterly Financial Survey4

Operating revenue Quarterly
-0.24 to 0.28

Industrial Product Price

Price index Monthly
0.00 to 0.27


1. This table omits those mission critical programs that do not regularly revise estimates (Labour Force Survey and Consumer Price Index).
2. The range of revisions for imports and exports is mainly due to the increased volatility of energy prices that makes preliminary estimates of value more difficult to produce.
3. In previous reports an  average revision to Gross Domestic Product was used. In order to be consistent with the other programs the revision to Gross Domestic Product has now been calculated as the average absolute revision.
4. The Quarterly Financial Survey revisions have been updated to reflect the same methodology to calculate revisions used by other mission critical programs.

Timeliness of Statistical Information

The timeliness of statistical information refers to the delay between the end of the reference period to which the information pertains and the date on which the information becomes available. It is typically involved in a trade off against accuracy. The timeliness of survey release is generally quite stable and changes occur over a long period of time. Change is often brought about when surveys undergo major redesigns.

Timeliness is clearly visible to users and easy to track. The choice of a timely target is closely related to relevance since information may not be useful if it is not available on time. Given timeliness targets, two performance measures are useful. The first is the existence of pre-announced release dates—and adherence to these dates—for regular series. The second is improvements in the timeliness achieved on the basis of how long it takes to release the information. However, this measure has to be considered in conjunction with other factors since improvements that are achieved at the expense of accuracy, or at undue cost, may not represent an overall improvement in performance. Clients have consistently preferred to maintain existing timeliness, if improved timeliness implies larger subsequent statistical revisions or a reduced level of statistical detail. Furthermore, users place great emphasis on the predictability of release dates.

Pre-Established Release Dates

Performance Criteria: Timeliness of statistical information
Pre-established release dates for major economic indicators

At the beginning of each fiscal year, Statistics Canada publishes on its website release dates for the coming year for all 29 major economic indicators, by month. These dates can be accessed at the following address:

In 2006-2007, the Department published a total of 264 releases of these 29 major economic indicators, and all were released as scheduled. In addition, the Department published 1009 other releases for which there was no pre-established release date.

For the 2006 Census, due to the introduction of a number of automated processes, STC envisaged releasing the population and dwelling counts earlier than in 2001 by a few weeks.  However, given the tight labour market due to the strong economy in certain areas of the country (in particularly western Canada) and the difficulties that this meant in hiring and retaining field staff, the completion of collection activities was extended by about five weeks.  The impact of the extension of Field/Collection activities resulted in the adjustment to the population and dwelling release from an initially planned February 2007 to March 13, 2007, and similar adjustments to the originally published release dates for the other variables (June 2007 to May 2008).

Elapsed Time Between Reference Period and Release Dates

Performance Criteria: Timeliness of statistical information
Measures of elapsed time between reference period and release dates for mission critical surveys

The elapsed time between reference period and release dates for mission critical programs is a timeliness measure that serves to test the relevance of the statistics in terms of the 'freshness' of the information released. Table 5 highlights the timeliness of a selection of major releases.

Table 5: Elapsed time between reference period and release dates of selected mission critical programs
Mission critical program
Elapsed Time1
Labour Force Survey      Monthly 20 days
Consumer Price Index    Monthly 21 days
Monthly Survey of Manufacturing Monthly 45 days
International trade    Monthly 42 days
Monthly wholesale trade Monthly 49 days
Monthly retail trade Monthly 52 days
Gross Domestic Product Quarterly 61 days
Survey of Employment, Earnings and Hours Monthly 59 days
Quarterly financial statistics for enterprises Quarterly 54 days
Industrial Product Price Indexes   Monthly 30 days


1. Elapsed time is measured in calendar days and may vary, for example, depending on the number of business days in a given month.

In addition to the mission critical programs noted above, Statistics Canada's Unified Enterprise Statistics (UES) Program (a series of annual business surveys) has seen a continual improvement in the timeliness of releases. When one compares to the 1998 reference year, where 16 of the 18 UES surveys at that time were released no earlier than 18 months after the end of the reference period, the improvements are notable. In recent years, all annual business surveys have a targeted release date within 15 months of the end of the reference period. As of reference year 2003, the number of UES surveys had surpassed 40 and nearly all had met this standard. For reference year 2004, all UES surveys have met the target release dates. Currently, the processing of business surveys has improved substantially to the point where a growing number of surveys (all from the services sector) now release their estimates within 12 months of the end of the reference period.

Accessibility of Statistical Information

As the national statistical agency, Statistics Canada serves a broad range of users —businesses, labour unions, academic institutions, the media, the general public and all levels of government. The Department's overall objective is to make its statistical information widely available in a way that keeps the Canadian public well informed about the social, economic and general conditions in which they live. Most information users fall into two broad categories: by far the largest number acquire their statistical information through the media or are general users of the website at For these users, the Department offers free, user-friendly information. The other category of users consists of either businesses or government organizations that require large-volume, specialized information. The Department charges them on a cost recoverable basis for this service. The Department also provides a single point of access to its products and services through a national contact centre for telephone and e-mail inquiries.

The Department continues to see an increase in the number of users accessing its free products and services as a result of the shift to electronic dissemination which has allowed Statistics Canada as a whole to serve more people than ever before. Students and teachers can access Statistics Canada information through the Learning Resources Module ( of the website. The Data Liberation Initiative ( has provided academia with affordable and equitable access to Department data since the program began in 1996. The Research Data Centre (RDC) program is part of an initiative by Statistics Canada, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and university consortia and was introduced to help strengthen Canada's social research capacity and to support the policy research community. The Media Room ( introduced in 2006 on the Department's website is designed to provide easy access by journalists to products and services offered.

The Department's standards of service to the public ( as well as performance information ( lish/about/webeval.htm) are published on the website and a departmental contact name is provided for clients not satisfied with the service received. Over the years, the number of complaints received has been minimal. The Status Report on the Service Improvement Initiative in Section IV provides more information on service improvement initiatives at the Department.

The accessibilityof statistical information refers to the ease with which it can be obtained. It is measured in terms of media inquiries and citations and visits and page views on the website.

Access through the Media

Performance Criteria: Accessibility of statistical information through the media
Media inquiries and citations

The Department's media monitoring program tracks coverage in 42 major newspapers as well as three national radio and television networks, and also tracks journalist inquiries through the media hotline service. In 2006-2007, media citations averaged 178 per month and media inquiries totalled 202, evidence that the Department's releases continue to enjoy broad coverage in the media. Peak levels of media citations usually coincide with the release of Census data.

Figure 1: Media Inquiries and Citations

Figure 1 Media inquiries and citations

The population and dwelling release for the 2006 Census garnered an estimated 35% more media coverage as compared to the equivalent 2001 Census release.  For the period from March 12 to March 24, 2007, media coverage included 881 print articles, 941 radio clips and 583 TV clips, all demonstrating the relevancy and credibility of the results, as well as the interest of the general public.

Access through the Internet

Performance Criteria: Accessibility of statistical information through the Internet
Visits and page views on STC website

Statistics Canada's marketing and dissemination effort centres on making its information more accessible to its various users through the Internet and the National Contact Centre. In 2006-2007, the number of visits to the Department website increased 16% from the previous year to just under 20 million and the number of page views increased 27% to 148 million. The number of enquiries received through the toll-free telephone enquiry service, electronic messaging services and e-mail service Contact Us declined by 2% to 240,500 enquiries.  Part of this decline can be attributed to the increasing use of the website, where people are finding much of the information they need on their own.

Statistics Canada conducts regular website research, including analysis of traffic and information used, usability testing of features and an annual survey of website users satisfaction.  Revised guidelines ensure that no new module or application is offered to users without prior user testing to ensure that it meets user needs in terms of content, functionality and user friendliness.

In 2005-2006, 71% of respondents to the survey reported being either satisfied or very satisfied with their overall experience with the site. Students continue to be the most frequent users of the site, with college and university students accounting for 28% of respondents. More detailed information on the website traffic and satisfaction measurement is available directly on line at the following address:

The number of total visits and page views on the Department's website has increased constantly since 2002, as indicated in Figure 2 below.

Figure 2: Visits and Page Views from 2002 to 2007

Figure 2: Visits and Page Views from 2002 to 2007

A very high level of traffic was recorded on the STC web-site related to this first release of the population and dwelling counts for the 2006 Census.  On March 13th, the day of release, the number of visitors hitting the census related pages was just over 72,000 and the total page views were recorded at over 1.2 million.  For that release week (Tuesday to Friday), almost 144,000 visitors viewed over 2.4 million census related web-pages, clearly indicating the wide interest and demand for census results.

Statistics Canada's Website

Statistics Canada's website plays a vital role in ensuring that the Agency's information is accessible by the public. Beginning in 2005, a concerted effort was undertaken to improve the website based on user feedback and needs. As part of this initiative Statistics Canada launched its updated website featuring a redesigned homepage, introduced a uniform look and feel across the website, and improved the search features. The website is now more accessible to visitors with special needs, such as the visually impaired. Integrated access to maps and geographic products through a "Maps and Geography" module has been implemented.

Ensuring that visitors to have a high degree of satisfaction is an important goal for Statistics Canada and the introduction of a quality assurance program for all site content is important to achieving this. Workflows are being implemented to ensure that new content and applications are subjected to an intensive quality assurance program including usability, accessibility and functionality testing.

Additionally we are working on improving the classification, integration and management of information on the site to provide better access to data by subject headings and by geographic region. New modules featuring Statistics by subject will be available in August 2007. These will allow integrated access to publications, data tables, survey information etc. by subject and provide quick links to guide users to key resources.  

We continue to investigate ways to improve the satisfaction rate for visitors who are using the site search features.  New techniques including guided navigation and faceted search will permit easy access to search results through user selected options such as author and subject.

Research Data Centres

Performance Criterion: Accessibility of statistical information
Facilitating statistical research that will illuminate current issues

The partnership between Statistics Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the 40 universities that constitute the Research Data Centre (RDC) network is proving to be an effective and important part of the social science research infrastructure in Canada. The core of a body of policy relevant research findings is emerging from the Research Data Centre Program. Approximately 300 articles on topics that are important for the continued development of Canadian Society have been published in a variety of fora, including official government publications, scientific journals and monographs.

Two important additions have been made to the RDC Network. The University of Moncton joined the Network as a centre for research in minority languages in Canada and the University of Saskatchewan is joining to fill an important gap in access in the Prairie Provinces. This brings the total number of research data centres across Canada to 22.

The RDC Network was successful in obtaining a four year grant from CFI to continue to improve the infrastructure for the centres. The grant will be used to "evergreen" the informatics equipment in the RDCs, to create uniform, consistent and accessible documentation for over 50 data sets held in the RDCs and to strengthen the ties between the centres.

While the number of active projects has remained relatively stable over the past year, the number of researchers continues to increase. It is notable that 1/3 of the 1,600 researchers working in the RDCs are students. This addresses one of the major objectives of the Canadian Initiative on Social Statistics initiative – to train the next generation of quantitative social scientists in Canada. The number of published articles continues to grow. The bibliography of published material that is posted on the Statistics Canada site on the web lists just over 350 works, of which ½ deal with health outcomes and determinants of health of the population, 1/3 focus on economic issues and labour market outcomes and 1/3 focus on the development and progress of children and youth. An additional 170 articles have been submitted for publication and are at various stages of review.

A number of significant additions are being made to the data holdings of the RDCs. First, Statistics Canada will be placing the 2001 Census data in the RDCs in June 2007. This will be followed with data from the 1991, 1996 and 2006 censuses over the next 3 years. Data from the censuses from 1911 to 1951 are also being prepared for the RDCs by the Century Census Research Initiative, a CFI funded project of which Dr. Chad Gaffield is the Principle Investigator. The ultimate goal is to have a continuous series of census data from 1911 to the most current census. The combined collection will represent an immensely important source of data for research on Canadian society, further enriching the body of research that is published from the RDCs.

Interpretability of Statistical Information

The interpretability of statistical information refers to the availability of the supplementary information necessary to interpret and utilize the data appropriately. This supplementary information, known as metadata, normally covers the underlying concepts, variables and classifications used; the methodology of data collection and processing; and indicators of the accuracy of the statistical data. Also, the interpretability of the Agency's statistical products is enhanced by ensuring that their official release in The Daily clearly enunciates the main findings of the release in a language that illustrates their relevance and can be easily used by the media in publicizing the results.

Availability of Supplementary Information

Performance Criteria: Interpretability of statistical information
Availability of supplementary information to interpret and utilize the data appropriately

Statistics Canada's Policy on Informing Users of Data Quality and Methodology requires that a description of the concepts and methodology used in collecting and compiling the data, together with information on the accuracy of the data, be provided with all statistical products. The Agency's primary vehicle for disseminating this information and satisfying the requirements of the policy is the Integrated Metadatabase (IMDB).

The IMDB is the central registry of information on variables, classifications, questionnaires, data sources, statistical methodology and measures of data accuracy for all of the Agency's on-going surveys and statistical programs (approximately 390) as well as the 400 or so that are no longer conducted. For each survey and statistical program included in the IMDB, there are direct links to other Statistics Canada products—such as The Daily and the Canadian Socio-economic Information Management system (CANSIM) tables, links to other reference periods and a chronology of changes to survey content or methodology back to November 2000. During 2006-2007, the Agency continued to update the content of the database with each new data release as well as improve the completeness and the coherence of metadata across surveys and statistical programs.

The information included in the IMDB, together with other metadata related to the activities of Statistics Canada, are available on Statistics Canada's website in the module Definitions, data sources and methods:

Coherence of Statistical Information

The coherenceof statistical information reflects the degree to which it can be successfully brought together with other statistical information within a broad analytic framework and over time. The use of standard concepts, classifications and target populations promotes coherence, as does the use of common methodology across surveys. Coherence does not necessarily imply full numerical consistency.

Use of Classification Systems

Performance Criteria: Coherence of statistical information
Use of classification systems

The use of standard classification systems by surveys and statistical programs ensures rigour and consistency between them, thus making them coherent with one another. The following table highlights the use of various standard classification systems for selected key surveys conducted by Statistics Canada.

Table 6: The Use of Standard Classification Systems in Mission Critical Programs
Mission Critical Program
North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Standard Classification of Goods or Harmonized System (SCG or HS) National Occupational Classification for Statistics (NOC-S) Standard Geographical Classification (SGC)
Labour Force Survey
Consumer Price Index1
Monthly Survey of Manufacturing
International Trade
Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey
Monthly Retail Trade Survey
Monthly/Quarterly Gross Domestic Product
Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours
Quarterly Financial Statistics for Enterprises
Industrial Product Price Indexes
Indicates that the classification is used.
N/A Indicates the classification is not applicable.
1. Given the nature of the survey (pricing the basket of goods), the CPI uses its own classification system for products.

The 2006 Census used the following classification systems for coding write-in responses:

  • North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) 2002, for the industry question
  • National Occupational Classification – Statistics (NOC-S) 2006, for the occupation question
  • Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) Canada 2000 for the field of study question

In addition, the Standard Geographical Classification (SGC) was used for the 2006 census products.

Selected Initiatives to Improve Coherence

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Canada 2007

The North American Industry Classification System was developed by the statistical agencies of Canada, Mexico and the United States to provide a consistent framework for the collection, analysis and dissemination of industrial statistics. The classification is revised every five years to reflect changes in the economies of the three countries. 

For the 2007 revision, major updates were made in the areas of telecommunications and internet services to better represent these rapidly evolving industries. Implementation of the revised classification started in January 2007 and approximately 80% of the Agency's industry statistical programs will report their 2007 data on the basis of the revised classification. Electronic and paper versions of the classification manual and coding tools were released in April 2007. More information about NAICS 2007 is available at:

North American Product Classification System (NAPCS)

The North American Product Classification System (NAPCS) is a new, harmonized classification developed jointly by Canada, Mexico and the United States to improve the  comparability of their respective national statistics on products (goods and services).

During 2006-2007, the implementation of NAPCS in the Agency's statistical programs continued, where applicable. In particular, questionnaires for the various annual surveys covering service industries have been modified to enable the collection of service outputs on the basis of the new classification with completion set for reference year 2007. The Annual Survey of Manufactures and Logging implemented the goods portion of the classification starting in reference year 2004. The Canadian System of National Accounts has started the work needed for the conversion to NAPCS for the 2007 reference year data. A provisional list of NAPCS products covering most of the service industries was released in June 2007. More information about this new classification is available at:

Standard Geographical Classification (SGC) 2006

The 2006 version of the Standard Geographical Classification was released in October 2006. This version replaces the 2001 edition as the official classification for geographical areas for all the Agency's statistical programs, including the 2006 Census of population and Census of agriculture. The classification contains tables of the names and codes of standard geographical classification units, organized by province and territory and by metropolitan area. It also includes reference maps showing boundaries, names, codes and location of census subdivisions, census divisions, census metropolitan areas, census agglomerations, and economic regions. More information on the SGC 2006 is available at:

National Occupational Classification for Statistics (NOC-S) 2006

The National Occupational Classification for Statistics (NOC-S) 2006 was updated during the review period and released in June 2007. It replaces the 2001 version as the Agency's official classification for occupational data.

A number of occupational titles were added to the revised classification to capture the new jobs and new specializations that have arisen, as well as the new terminology brought by technological changes. As well, occupational descriptions were updated to better reflect the way jobs are now performed. The NOC-S 2006 provides a systematic classification structure that categorizes the entire range of occupational activity in Canada. Its 520 detailed occupations are identified and grouped primarily according to the work usually performed, as determined by the tasks, duties and responsibilities of the occupation.

The NOC-S 2006 was produced in partnership with Human Resources and Social Development Canada. The first statistical data based on NOC-S 2006 will be the occupational data release from Census 2006. The coherence between NOC-S and the recently revised International Standard Classification of Occupation (ISCO) has been improved thereby making comparison of international data to Canadian data easier. More information on the classification is available at:

Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) Canada 2000

During 2006-2007, CIP 2000 was used to code the field-of-study question in the 2006 Census of population.  These data will be released in March 2008.  CIP is also used for the coding of field-of-study data in a variety of surveys of postsecondary education such as the Postsecondary Student Information System, and in other socio-economic surveys.  CIP is the result of a collaborative effort between Canada and the United States, and its use promotes comparability of education data between the two countries.  Discussions are underway to produce a revised version of the classification to be released in 2010.  The classification is available at:

On-line Database for North American Transportation Statistics (NATS)

The North American Transportation Statistics (NATS) database is a unique on-line source, accessible to the public, for comprehensive information on transportation activity.  Hosted by Mexico, the database is the result of a tripartite initiative representing the transportation and statistical agencies of Canada, the United States and Mexico.  As the economies of the three NAFTA partners have become more integrated, demand has increased for improved comparability of statistics for key transportation data time series involving these three countries.  Available in English, French and Spanish, the database is queried 200-600 times daily with 2300 documents downloaded monthly.