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Minister’s Portfolio Message

Jim Prentice

The Government of Canada is committed to creating an environment where all Canadians have every opportunity for continued prosperity.

We laid out our long-term economic plan in Advantage Canada. It identified five Canadian objectives, related to tax reduction, debt reduction, entrepreneurship, knowledge in the workforce and infrastructure, which will help us improve our quality of life and succeed on the world stage. I’m pleased to note the commonality between these advantages and Industry Canada’s mission of fostering a growing, competitive, knowledge-based economy.

Clearly, our government is making strides towards achieving our long-term goals. For example, we have provided $190 billion in broad-based tax relief over this and the next five years, including cuts to corporate, small business and personal taxes. Our debt repayment goals have been accelerated by three years. We’re setting the right conditions for entrepreneurs to thrive, for research and development to flourish, for additional competition and growth in the wireless sector and for our workforce to build on its expertise. Finally, we continue to invest heavily in our physical infrastructure to build the networks needed to carry our people, goods and services across Canada and beyond.

In May 2007 Prime Minister Harper unveiled our Science and Technology Strategy, Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage. It is a policy framework that has received wide acclaim, both in Canada and internationally. Our government believes that science and technology, and research and development, are more critical than ever to pushing forward the frontiers of knowledge and transforming that knowledge into new products, services and technologies.

Our hard work is paying off. The economic fundamentals are in place to help us realize our goals. We boast strong public finances, an economy that is as healthy as it has been for a generation and low unemployment.

As Minister of Industry, I look forward to implementing our government’s agenda for providing effective economic leadership — an agenda that provides concrete, realistic solutions to the economic challenges our country is facing.

As always, we must build on our success as a nation. In this regard, Industry Canada and its portfolio partners continue to strive towards a fair, efficient and competitive marketplace, an innovative economy, competitive industries and sustainable communities — in short, outcomes that will help Canadians continue to enjoy a quality of life that is second to none.

It gives me great pleasure to present the annual Report on Plans and Priorities for Statistics Canada,outlining in greater detail the Department’s main initiatives, priorities and expected outcomes for the upcoming year.

Jim Prentice
Minister of Industry

Management Representation Statement

I submit, for tabling in Parliament, the 2008-2009 Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP) for:

Statistics Canada

This document has been prepared based on the reporting principles contained in the Guide for the Preparation of Part III of the 2008-2009 Estimates: Report on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports.

  • it adheres to the specific reporting requirements outlined in the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat guidance;
  • it is based on the department’s strategic outcome and program activities that were approved by the Treasury Board;
  • it presents consistent, comprehensive, balanced and reliable information;
  • it provides a basis of accountability for the results achieved with the resources and authorities entrusted to it;
  • it reports finances based on approved planned spending numbers from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

Ivan P. Fellegi
Chief Statistician of Canada

Raison d'être

The Government of Canada has established Statistics Canada to ensure that Canadians have access to a trusted source of statistics on Canadian society and its economy. This is of fundamental importance to an open, democratic society as it provides objective information to Canadians and their elected representatives to support their decision making and participation in the democratic process, markets and in their personal lives.

The statistics produced by Statistics Canada constitute a pivotal element in informing national policy formulation. A large portion of Statistics Canada's program of activities is devoted to meeting the needs of federal, provincial and territorial government policy departments, and providing on-going measurement of Canadian socio-economic dynamics and emerging trends in support of the Government’s agenda for transparent, accountable and evidence-based program management. Statistics Canada data are also used by businesses, unions and non-profit organizations to make informed decisions. Many of its major releases move markets and are widely monitored by market participants.

Organizational Information

Statistics Canada's mandate derives primarily from the Statistics Act. The Act requires the Department to collect, compile, analyze and publish statistical information on the economic, social and general conditions of the country and its citizens. The Act also requires that Statistics Canada coordinate the national statistical system, specifically to avoid duplication in the information collected by departments of government. To this end, the Chief Statistician may enter into joint collection or data sharing agreements with provincial statistical agencies, provincial or federal government departments, subject to confidentiality guarantees for identifiable statistical information. In the case of provincial statistical agencies, it permits the sharing of such information with those among them who operate under an act comparable to the national Statistics Act in terms of compulsory collection and confidentiality protection.

Statistics Canada can also, by law, access all administrative records. Such records (e.g. tax data, customs declarations, birth and death records) are very important sources of statistical information, which enable Statistics Canada to reduce reporting burden on business and individual respondents. Statistics Canada is in the forefront of reducing reporting burden through the exploitation of such administratively generated information. Partnerships and cost-recovery arrangements with other departments, other jurisdictions and external organizations, play a big role in Statistics Canada’s coordination function. Statistics Canada continues to foster these arrangements as they have proven to serve not only the needs of the stakeholders but also those of the national statistical system and the Canadian research community.

It is through these mechanisms that Statistics Canada strives to achieve the strategic outcome desired by the Government of Canada, that is for Canadians to have access to a trusted source of statistics and statistical products, services and analyses that are relevant, responsive to emerging issues, fulfill legal requirements and are of high quality concerning the Canadian society and its economy.

The Minister of Industry is the Minister responsible to Parliament for Statistics Canada, while the Department is headed by the Chief Statistician of Canada. The Chief Statistician of Canada is supported by seven Assistant Chief Statisticians (ACSs): four ACSs are responsible for program activities and three ACSs are responsible for technical, statistical and management infrastructure and services that support Statistics Canada’s program activities.

Program Activity Architecture (PAA) Crosswalk

In 2007, the Treasury Board approved new program activity titles, descriptions and strategic outcomes for Statistics Canada.

Previous Revised
Strategic Outcome: Provide Canadians with objective and non-partisan statistics and statistical products, services and analyses on Canada's economy and society which are relevant, responsive to emerging issues, fulfill legal requirements and are of high quality. Strategic Outcome: Canadians have access to objective, high quality, non-partisan statistics, statistical products, services and analyses on Canada's economy and society which fulfill legal requirements, are relevant to policy formulation and decision makers and are responsive to emerging issues.
Program Activity: Economic Statistics No change
Program Activity: Social Statistics No change
Program Activity: Census Statistics Program Activity: Census, Demography and Aboriginal Statistics

Statistics Canada’s Strategic Outcome was slightly modified to broaden its scope.

The Progam Activity title “Census Statistics” has been changed to “Census, Demography and Aboriginal Statistics” as the former name did not reflect the full range of activities included in that Program Activity.

Voted and Statutory Items displayed in the Main Estimates

Vote or Statutory Item
Truncated Vote or Statutory Wording
2008-2009 Main Estimates
2007-2008 Main Estimates
($ thousands)
95 Program Expenditures
(S) Contributions to employee benefit plans
  Total for the Agency¹
1. Main Estimates amounts are presented net of respendable revenue.
Totals may differ within and between tables due to the rounding of amounts.

Planned Spending and Full-time Equivalents

Forecast Spending 2007-2008¹
Planned Spending 2008-2009
Planned Spending 2009-2010
Planned Spending 2010-2011
($ thousands)
Economic Statistics
Social Statistics
Census, Demography and Aboriginal Statistics
Budgetary Main Estimates (gross)
Less: Respendable Revenue
Total Main Estimates
Supplementary Estimates
Funding for activities that are essential to the continued implementation of the Public Service Modernization Act
Transfer to Public Service Human Resources Management Agency of Canada - To support the National Managers' Community
Funding to undertake projects related to the development and application of biotechnology (Canadian Biotechnology Strategy)
Budget Announcement
Strategic Review Saving3
Incremental Funding for Internal Audit
Operating Budget Carry Forward
Collective Agreements
Total Adjustments²
Total Planned Spending
Less: Non-respendable Revenue
Plus: Cost of Services received without charge
Total Agency Spending
Full Time Equivalents
1. Reflects best forecast of total spending to the end of the fiscal year.
2. Adjustments are to accommodate approvals obtained since the Main Estimates and to include Budget initiatives, Supplementary Estimates, etc.
3. The Strategic Review Savings amounts presented in this table are lower than the amounts shown in the Budget 2008 documents as some of the savings come from sunsetting programs, which are shown as future reductions in planned spending.
Totals may differ within and between tables due to the rounding of amounts.

Summary Information

Financial Resources

($ thousands)

Human Resources


Departmental Priorities

Name Type
1. New Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators Previously committed
2. New Statistics supporting the revised Equalization formula Previously committed
3. New Services Price Index Ongoing
4. Strengthening the Consumer Price Index Previously committed
5. New Health Statistics Program¹ Ongoing
6. New Integrated Correctional Services statistics Previously committed
7. 2006 & 2011 Census of Population Previously committed, New
8. 2006 & 2011 Census of Agriculture Previously committed
9. Archiving Census Records - 1991, 1996 & 2001 Previously committed
10. Aboriginal Peoples Survey¹ Previously committed
11. Collection Modernization Initiative Previously committed
12. Strengthening the Financial Management Function Previously committed
13. Official Languages Training Program Ongoing
1. These initiatives are funded in part through respendable revenue.

Program Activities by Strategic Outcome

Expected Results
Planned Spending¹
Contribution to the following priorities2
Strategic Outcome: Canadians have access to objective, high quality, non-partisan statistics, statistical products, services and analyses on Canada's economy which fulfill legal requirements, are relevant to policy formulation and decision makers and are responsive to emerging issues.
Economic Statistics Economic Statistics produced by Statistics Canada are available through a wide range of easily accessible media formats and venues.

Canadians are aware of the availability of these statistics and of their high quality, and of the professionalism and non-partisanship of Statistics Canada.
1, 2, 3 & 4
Strategic Outcome: Canadians have access to objective, high quality, non-partisan statistics, statistical products, services and analyses on Canada's society which fulfill legal requirements, are relevant to policy formulation and decision makers and are responsive to emerging issues.
Social Statistics Social Statistics produced by Statistics Canada are available through a wide range of easily accessible media formats and venues.

Canadians are aware of the availability of these statistics and of their high quality, and of the professionalism and non-partisanship of Statistics Canada.
5 & 6
Strategic Outcome: Canadians have access to objective, high quality, non-partisan statistics, statistical products, services and analyses on Canada's population which fulfill legal requirements, are relevant to policy formulation and decision makers and are responsive to emerging issues.
Census, Demography and Aboriginal Statistics Census, Demography and Aboriginal Statistics produced by Statistics Canada are available through a wide range of easily accessible media formats and venues.

Canadians are aware of the availability of these statistics and of their high quality, and of the professionalism and non-partisanship of Statistics Canada.
7, 8, 9 & 10
Total Planned Spending
1. Planned Spending amounts are presented net of respendable revenue.
2. Priorities 11, 12 & 13 are management priorities in support of the Internal Services program activity and are described in more detail in Section IV.
Totals may differ within and between tables due to the rounding of amounts.

Departmental Plans and Priorities

The statistical program of a country is the sum of all activities carried out by the national statistical institute and its partners in the national statistical system. Given the almost limitless possibilities, and the almost always limited capacity, the main question in statistical program planning is what statistics to produce.

Answering this question involves difficult trade-offs between often competing factors. This is sometimes summarized as a trade-off between quality, cost, respondent burden and timeliness, but there are many more factors that must be taken into account in statistical program planning. The starting point for determining what statistics to produce, however, must be the information needs of the ultimate users of the statistics.

A framework for user needs

Like many national statistical institutes, Statistics Canada has adopted a standard for data quality, the Quality Assurance Framework, based on the concept of fitness for use. We identify six aspects of information quality that are pertinent to the use of information: relevance; accuracy; timeliness; accessibility; interpretability; coherence. The same framework is very effective for identifying user needs and making them actionable through a planning process. In fact, the aim of most statistical program planning is to bring about improvements or other changes in one or more of these dimensions of data quality.

Determining what statistics to produce is first and foremost a question of relevance, which by definition refers to the degree to which the information produced responds to the needs of the user community served by the program. Improving relevance might mean initiating, or discontinuing, entire statistical programs, or it might mean adding, changing or removing content from existing statistical programs. Timeliness is a closely related dimension that relates both to the periodicity of the measurement required to meet user needs and the acceptable time delay between the reference period and the publication of the results. Coherence is another user driven characteristic of the statistical program, which has a major impact on survey design in terms of the ease with which survey content in a program can be related to content in other programs.

As regards accuracy, while a minimum standard can be defined for any output of Statistics Canada, this is also a dimension that is conditioned by user needs. The choice of how much effort to invest in achieving a stated level of accuracy depends on the uses to which the resulting statistics will be applied. This may be further constrained by capacity factors, but trade-offs in survey design regarding coverage, sampling and processes to minimize error must be made in the context of the ultimate use to which the data will be made.

Finally, accessibility and interpretability are dimensions that are largely user defined, determining the modes by which statistical information will be disseminated to different audiences, the availability of catalogues or searching tools that allow users to know what is available and how to obtain it, and the provision of ancillary information to assist users to understand and properly use and analyze information.

It is with this framework in mind that Statistics Canada evaluates the usefulness of its statistical program for data users, which forms the basis for statistical program planning.

In a well established statistical system such as Canada’s, many of these needs have become enshrined in legislation and other statutory instruments, which tends to stabilize the requirements for a large proportion of its program, recently estimated at 75% of its permanent funding. While relevance in these cases is well established, there may be gaps and opportunities in the other dimensions of data quality that are always in scope of the planning process. In addition, information on long standing needs that are not currently served by the statistical system and emerging data needs resulting from new directions and priorities in public policy must somehow be brought into the planning process. Statistics Canada deploys a range of consultation and information gathering mechanisms to keep abreast of evolving users needs.

To gather information on the needs and expectations of users of its statistical programs, Statistics Canada employs a variety of Advisory Committees, bilateral mechanisms, multilateral mechanisms, quadrennial program evaluations and market mechanisms.

A framework for statistical capacity

Answering the fundamental question of what constitutes useful statistical output for data users is a necessary but not sufficient condition for effective statistical program planning. To complete the picture, planning must also address the Department’s capacity to produce this information. This requires consideration of a number of other factors, which can be broadly classified under factors related to the supply of data and factors related to enterprise management, represented as a risk framework in figure 1.

It is appropriate to situate statistical program planning as part of an integrated risk management process, as the object of such planning is to reduce the probability and/or impact of adverse events, defined broadly, on statistical programs.

This framework sets out the issues about which specific action must be taken proactively or reactively to enable statistical programs to achieve their ultimate objectives and deliver on their strategic outcomes. It can be invoked in two ways. First, reactively, any changes desired in statistical output to respond to user needs will have consequential impacts for most or all of these factors. For example, an initiative to improve the timeliness of a statistical program could require adjustments to factors related to the supply of data from respondents or administrative sources as well as to factors related to enterprise management, such as workforce, systems and financial resources. Secondly, proactively, these capacities, or infrastructures, can themselves be the direct object of program planning, not driven by changes in statistical output but rather by efforts to improve efficiency or reduce risk.

Figure 1
Statistics Canada Corporate Risk Framework

Statistics Canada Corporate Risk Framework

Under security of supply are found the policies, procedures and systems used to gain access to respondents, manage their response burden and maintain their trust so as to ensure their continued cooperation as well as the mechanisms for securing and maintaining access to administrative data sources.

Under enterprise management are found the processes for ensuring the sound stewardship of financial resources and physical, software and information assets; for attracting and retaining a workforce of the right size with the right competencies; for establishing a safe and productive workplace; for structuring an effective organization with clear accountability for results; for providing learning and development opportunities that foster innovation and continuous improvement; for nurturing an effective policy and program capacity; and for managing risk as an integral part of enterprise management.

Effective planning in respect of these infrastructures depends on timely and accurate information on their current condition and costs of operation. At Statistics Canada, this information is obtained through the program evaluation process described earlier, through audits, and through a number of management information systems.

The areas responsible for the various infrastructure services, which have been largely centralized in Statistics Canada, are also evaluated on a quadrennial basis, addressing the performance, risks and opportunities for each specialized support service. For example, individual quadrennial program reports cover data collection systems and infrastructures, corporate data dissemination infrastructure, methodology services, business survey frames, human resource management services, and so on.

A program of internal audits as well as external reviews by the Office of the Auditor General, the Official Languages Commissioner, the Public Service Commission and other central agencies provide information on the adequacy and effectiveness of controls and mechanisms to mitigate or otherwise manage risks throughout the corporate risk framework, thus drawing attention and placing priority on required remedial actions.

It is this mix of information on user needs and agency capacity, drawn from all of these sources, that informs the planning process at Statistics Canada.

For 2008-09, ten specific initiatives for making improvements to statistical programs have been identified as priorities, while three management priorities address internal services.¹

Most of the program priorities are aimed at improving the relevance of the national statistical program, by producing new statistics needed by policy makers in the areas of environmental policy, health and the administration of justice, all current government priorities, as well as in support of fiscal transfers to provinces under a new Equalization formula. 2008-09 is also the first year of new investment for the 2011 Census of Population and the Census of Agriculture, both fundamental sources of statistical information for a wide variety of users across the country. The relevance of the national statistical program will also be further enhanced by new investments, mostly on a cost-recovery basis, in aboriginal statistics.

Other program priorities address quality issues, an overriding concern for Statistics Canada as the credibility and usefulness of its output depends on the actual and perceived quality of the statistics it produces. To this end, new investments are being made to strengthen the Consumer Price Index, a key indicator of inflation, and also to extend the coverage of producer price indexes in service industries, which is intended to improve the measurement of real output and productivity in the Canadian economy.

In 2007, Statistics Canada conducted an in-depth review of the funding, relevance and performance of all its programs and spending to ensure results and value for money from programs that are a priority for Canadians. As part of this Strategic Review, the department put forward a series of reallocation proposals representing approximately 5% of its direct program spending that could be reinvested more effectively. These reallocations came from its lowest priority spending.

In undertaking this review, the main objective was to continue to improve the relevance and accessibility of statistical programs. As a result of this review, a small number of lower priority statistical programs will be scaled back or discontinued while the department’s capacity for new program development and infrastructure renewal will be maintained, but at a reduced level. The savings realized by these reallocations will be reinvested in new Budget priorities.

¹ These three management priorities are described in section IV, Other Items of Interest.