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Minister’s message

Minister of Industry, Tony ClementThe Industry Portfolio experienced a busy and successful 2007–2008. As Minister of Industry, I am pleased with the progress made on our mission to foster a competitive, knowledge-based economy that benefits all Canadians.

A competitive economy is one that provides jobs and opportunity to Canadians, and top-quality products and services to consumers. Our economic performance underpins the quality of life we enjoy in this country, and Statistics Canada is making important contributions to this mission.

The Industry Portfolio is composed of Industry Canada and 10 other agencies, Crown corporations and quasi-judicial bodies. These organizations collectively advance Canada’s industrial, scientific and economic development, and help ensure that we remain competitive in the global marketplace.

As a country, we must remain focused on how we can continue to provide an innovative and entrepreneurial economic environment, help our businesses capitalize on opportunities, and provide choice and quality to consumers. The global marketplace continues to evolve, changing with it the dynamics that influence Canada’s performance. I am proud to say that the Industry Portfolio is playing its part:

  • We are working to make our market for wireless services more competitive, this year launching the policy framework for the Advanced Wireless Services spectrum auction. The framework aims to provide more choice and better service for consumers and businesses — something that we believe will also lead to lower prices.
  • We issued guidelines clarifying the application of the Investment Canada Act as it relates to foreign state-owned enterprises investing in our country to ensure that Canadians continue to enjoy all the benefits that foreign investment delivers.
  • We instituted an independent Competition Policy Review Panel to review and report on key elements of Canada’s competition and investment policies and to ensure that they are working to the full benefit of Canadians.
  • We created an Automotive Innovation Fund to provide support to automotive firms undertaking large-scale, strategic research and development (R&D) projects to build innovative, greener and more fuel-efficient vehicles. Similarly, investments made through the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative continue to encourage strategic R&D that will result in innovation and excellence in new products and services.

One of my key priorities as Industry Minister continues to be our country’s science and technology (S&T) strategy, Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage, announced by Prime Minister Harper in May 2007.

  • Budget 2008 included measures and initiatives in support of our S&T Strategy that total $654 million over the next three years.
  • We put in place the new Science, Technology and Innovation Council to provide the government with objective policy advice on Canada’s S&T issues.
  • The government allocated $105 million in 2007–2008 to support the operations of seven new Centres of Excellence, pilot projects that have the potential to make Canada a global leader in fields of research that offer a strategic opportunity for Canadian industry.
  • This past March, Canada’s two-armed robot, Dextre, was successfully installed on the International Space Station.

This has been a year of progress and success, and it is my pleasure to present Statistics Canada’s Departmental Performance Report for 2007–2008. I am committed to building on these successes in 2008 and beyond, and I will continue to work with officials in the Industry Portfolio to make Canada more efficient, productive and competitive.

Tony Clement
Minister of Industry

Management representation statement

I submit for tabling in Parliament the 2007–2008 Departmental Performance Report 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 2007–2008 Estimates: Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports:

  • It adheres to the specific reporting requirements outlined in the Treasury Board Secretariat guidance.
  • It is based on the Strategic Outcome(s) and Program Activity Architecture 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 numbers from the Estimates and the Public Accounts of Canada.
The original version was signed by Munir A. Sheikh, Chief Statistician of Canada.

Section 1 Departmental overview

Summary of performance

Raison d’tre

The Government of Canada has established Statistics Canada to ensure that Canadians have access to a trusted source of statistics about their country. Access to objective information is fundamental in an open, democratic society. Statistics Canada provides this information to Canadians and their elected representatives to support their decision making and participation in the democratic process, markets, and social and personal activities.

The statistics produced by Statistics Canada are pivotal in informing national policy. A large portion of Statistics Canada's activities is devoted to meeting the needs of federal, provincial and territorial government policy departments and providing ongoing measurement of Canadian socio-economic dynamics and emerging trends in support of the federal 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 are widely monitored by market participants and influence markets.

Constitutional and legislative foundations

Under the Constitution Act of 1867 (s.91), “the Census and Statistics” is an exclusive jurisdiction of the federal parliament. The Act (s.8) requires that a census be conducted in 1871 and every tenth year thereafter. Subsequent constitutional legislation to create the Prairie provinces added a requirement to conduct censuses every fifth year in this region.

Parliament acted on this mandate with various legislation, culminating in the Statistics Act of 1918. This law created the Dominion Bureau of Statistics as the centerpiece of a highly centralized statistical system. The Bureau was conceived as an independent body, detached from any department or agency with a policy interest. The Canadian model is often envied by countries with more decentralized systems, usually involving policy ministries in statistical activities.

The Statistics Act of 1970 replaced all previous legislation. This constitutional and legislative foundation establishes Statistics Canada as a federal agency with a national mandate to address the statistical needs of all levels of government and, indeed, all Canadians.

Mandate

Statistics Canada's mandate derives primarily from the Statistics Act. The Act requires that it collect, compile, analyse and publish statistical information on the economic, social and general conditions of the country and its citizens. The Act also requires that Statistics Canada co-ordinate the national statistical system, specifically to avoid duplication in the information collected by government. To this end, the Chief Statistician may enter into joint collection or data-sharing agreements with provincial and territorial statistical agencies, and federal, provincial and territorial government departments, subject to confidentiality guarantees for identifiable statistical information.

The Statistics Act specifically requires Statistics Canada to conduct a Census of Population and a Census of Agriculture in 1971 and every fifth year thereafter (national censuses became quinquennial in 1956). The Act also confers substantial powers on this agency to request information for statistical purposes through surveys of Canadian businesses and households. By default, response to Statistics Canada’s surveys is mandatory under the Act, with refusal to participate subject to legal penalties. The Act includes provisions to make participation in some surveys voluntary, and Statistics Canada has generally done so with respect to household surveys other than the Census of Population and the Labour Force Survey, which produces critical economic data. Surveys of businesses, including agricultural businesses, are conducted on a mandatory basis.

Statistics Canada can also, by law, access all administrative records (e.g., tax data, customs declarations, and birth and death records). Such records are very important sources of statistical information, which enable it to reduce reporting burden on business and individual respondents. Statistics Canada is considered a leader among statistical agencies around the world in reducing reporting burden through the use of administrative data. Partnerships and cost-recovery arrangements with other departments, other jurisdictions and external organizations play a large role in reducing reporting burden. Statistics Canada continues to foster these arrangements as they have proven to serve the needs of the stakeholders as well as those of the national statistical system and the Canadian research community.

These mechanisms help Statistics Canada and the Government of Canada provide Canadians with access to a trusted source of statistics and statistical products, services and analyses on Canadian society and its economy, which are relevant, are responsive to emerging issues, are of high quality and fulfill legal requirements.

Common service organization

Under Treasury Board’s Common Services Policy, Statistics Canada is a non-mandatory common service provider to other federal government departments and agencies with respect to statistical services. Three-quarters of Statistics Canada’s $103 million in respendable revenues in 2007/2008 was derived from the provision of common services within the federal government. Major clients include Human Resources and Social Development Canada, Health Canada, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, although many departments make use of Statistics Canada’s services.

2007/2008 Report on Plans and Priorities

The 2007/2008 Report on Plans and Priorities laid out the Program Activity Architecture around three areas, namely Economic Statistics, Social Statistics and Census Statistics. The Report on Plans and Priorities also identified nine priority initiatives. In the Economic Statistics Program, the priorities identified were the development of a services price index, new statistics in support of a revised equalization formula, redesign of the Business Register and establishment of the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators. In the Social Statistics Program, the priorities were health statistics and statistics in support of the Child-centered Family Law Strategy. In the Census Statistics Program, the priorities were the release of data from the 2006 Census of Population and 2006 Census of Agriculture and the conducting of the Aboriginal Peoples Survey.

All of these priorities were successfully met. Details on the specific achievements of each can be found in Section 2.

With regard to its ongoing plans, Statistics Canada continued to provide relevant, high-quality statistics in fulfillment of its mandate in the areas of Economic, Social and Census Statistics. This was particularly underlined in 2007 as the result of the Strategic Review of all its programs as part of the Government's new Expenditure Management System. This in-depth review confirmed the relevance, priority and cost-effectiveness of its programs.

As a result of the Strategic Review, Statistics Canada’s budget has been reduced by $21.5 million annually, and this target will be reached over three years. This has meant a reduction in some products of lesser priority and lesser capacity for new program development and infrastructure renewal. 

Availability of statistical information

The availability of statistical information refers to the ease with which it can be obtained. It is measured in terms of media inquiries and citations, visits to and page views on the website, and enquiries made through the National Contact Centre.

The expected results of Statistics Canada's programs are that the statistics they produce are available through a wide range of easily accessible media formats and venues and that Canadians are aware of the availability of these statistics, of their high quality and of the professionalism and non-partisanship of Statistics Canada. To measure its performance in achieving these results, Statistics Canada maintains various indicators of access to the data it produces and the trust Canadians place in these data.

In 2007/2008, Statistics Canada published 286 data releases related to major economic and social indicators. It also published 918 releases of more limited or specialized interest.

Statistics Canada’s media monitoring program tracks coverage in 42 major newspapers as well as three national radio and television networks. It tracks inquiries from journalists through the media hotline service. It also keeps statistics on access to data published on its website.

As indicated in Figure 1.1, in 2007/2008, the numbers of visits to the Statistics Canada website and pages viewed by site users were similar to those in 2006/2007. That is, there were more than 19 million visits to the website and nearly 146 million pages viewed by site users in both years. In previous fiscal years, there were marked increases each year. Census 2006 data releases contributed to high levels of traffic on the Statistics Canada website throughout the past year.

Figure 1.1 Visits and page views, 2002/2003 to 2007/2008

Statistics Canada conducts ongoing website research, including analyses of traffic and information used, usability testing and a regular survey of website visitors to assess their satisfaction with the site. Guidelines ensure that no new module or application is offered to site visitors without prior testing to ensure that it meets visitor needs in terms of content, functionality and user friendliness.

In the most recent website evaluation survey, which was concluded in early April 2007, 71% of respondents reported being either satisfied or very satisfied with their overall experience with the site. Students continue to represent the largest group of visitors to the site, accounting for 29% of respondents to the evaluation survey. More detailed information on website traffic and satisfaction measurements is available online at http://www.statcan.gc.ca/about-apercu/evalutation-eng.htm.

As Figure 1.2 shows, in 2007/2008, media citations totalled 2,280 for the year, and media inquiries, 2,641, evidence that Statistics Canada’s releases continue to enjoy broad coverage in the media. Media citations usually peak with the release of census data.

Figure 1.2 Media inquiries and citations, 2000/2001 to 2007/2008

Trust and credibility

The continuing high level of website traffic and satisfaction with the website are evidence of the trust that Canadians place in Statistics Canada’s credibility and the quality of its data. To obtain a more direct measure of Canadians’ perceptions of it, Statistics Canada contracted Environics Research Group in 2007 to repeat a public opinion survey first conducted in 2005.

Its goal was to assess the extent to which Statistics Canada’s brand and role are recognized, whether its activities are perceived to be of value, and the extent to which people are willing to participate in its surveys.

Results of the survey testify to the high regard in which Canadians hold Statistics Canada. The following are some of the major findings:

  • There is strong public awareness of Statistics Canada, as 6 in 10 adult Canadians could identify it and its role. Over 90% of them recognized it with some prompting.
  • Almost 80% of all adults in Canada hold a positive impression of Statistics Canada and feel that it makes a contribution to the quality of life in Canada.
  • Of Canadians who accessed the Internet, 1 in 4 claimed to have visited the Statistics Canada website at least once in the previous 12 months, a very large proportion.
  • About 80% of those who visited its website indicated they were successful in finding the information they were seeking.
  • More than half (54%) identified the Internet as their preferred mode for responding to Statistics Canada surveys, which is more than double the percentage in 2005 (26%). Only 1 in 4 preferred paper format. This is an important lesson for the future.

Canadians’ trust in Statistics Canada is also a function of its perceived objectivity and non-partisanship. To bolster this perception, in December of each year it pre-establishes the release dates for all major economic indicators for the coming year on its website. It does not deviate from the schedule under any circumstances. These dates can be accessed at http://www.statcan.gc.ca/release-diffusion/index-eng.htm. In 2007/2008, all 29 major economic indicators with pre-established dates were published as scheduled.

Data quality assurance is a major reason that Canadians place their trust in statistics produced by Statistics Canada. While it is recognized as one of the world's leading statistical agencies in terms of data quality (it was identified as the top statistical agency in the world by The Economist magazine), it continuously monitors risks and reviews quality assurance practices to retain the confidence of data users.

In the fall of 2006, Statistics Canada initiated a comprehensive review of quality assurance practices for nine high-profile statistical programs. This review was in response to a small number of incidents where errors were discovered after data were released. While some errors are natural given the massive amount of data Statistics Canada generates, some of which it collects itself and some of which it receives from others (administrative data), it is imperative that the extent and significance of error be reduced as much as possible. The review was completed in early 2007 and the results, along with the measures taken in response to the review’s recommendations, were made public on June 4, 2007. See http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/070604/be070604a-eng.htm.

The review identified the programs where further investments were needed to strengthen the quality assurance practices. A number of best practices were identified and steps were taken to ensure that the best practices were shared with and adopted by all programs that could benefit from them. In addition, Statistics Canada completed a large-scale quality assurance learning exercise. This involved meeting all staff working on data production to systematically review the quality assurance practices. The results of this exercise have been analysed to identify areas where further training on quality assurance would be beneficial.

In 2008, Statistics Canada began what will be an ongoing process of monitoring the quality of data releases to reduce the risk of errors found after official release. Also in 2008, it started a permanent program for ongoing quality assurance reviews similar to those carried out in 2006/2007. An important element of the ongoing review is the monthly examination of performance by the Policy Committee, the highest-level committee at Statistics Canada, which is chaired by the Chief Statistician. All of these measures ensure that Statistics Canada continues to meet the highest standards of data quality expected of it by data users and its stakeholders.

Other elements of the Statistics Canada model that build confidence and trust

The confidence that Canadians have in their national statistical agency is a function of their perception that Statistics Canada is professional and has excellent management. Statistics Canada is widely known and respected as a very well-managed organization.

  • It is a recognized leader in human resources management practices. In 2007, it was named one the National Capital Region's Top 20 Employers by Maclean's magazine and received the Order of Excellence Award, the highest-level Healthy Workplace Award, from the National Quality Institute.
  • The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages has given it an ‘exemplary’ rating for its official languages program, and it was the first federal department to be so recognized.
  • The assessment of its management practices by the Treasury Board Secretariat under the Management Accountability Framework places it in the top quartile of departments.
  • It has a unique system of risk assessment and comprehensive program evaluation that focuses on the relevance of data collected, quality assurance and cost-effectiveness of every one of its programs over a four-year cycle. These evaluations are reviewed by the Policy Committee on an ongoing basis. Details are provided in Section 4.

Table 1.1 Summary information


Financial resources ($ thousands)
2007/2008
Planned spending Total authorities Actual spending
454,332 508,940 474,031



Human resources (full-time equivalents)
2007/2008
Planned Actual Difference
5,177 5,676 499



Departmental priorities as described in the 2007/2008 Report on Plans and Priorities
Name Type Performance status
1. Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators Previously committed Successfully met
2. Business Register redesign Previously committed Successfully met
3. Services price index Ongoing Successfully met
4. New statistics in support of the revised Equalization formula New Successfully met
5. Child-centered Family Law Strategy Previously committed Successfully met
6. Health Statistics Program Ongoing Successfully met
7. 2006 Census of Population Previously committed Successfully met
8. 2006 Census of Agriculture Previously committed Successfully met
9. Aboriginal Peoples Survey New Successfully met



Table 1.2 Program activities, by strategic outcome
Expected results Performance status 2007/2008 Contributes to the following priorities
Planned spending1 Total authorities2 Actual spending3
Strategic outcome: Canadians have access to objective, high-quality, non-partisan statistics, statistical products, services and analyses on Canada's economy that 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.
Successfully met 202,238 240,154 224,467 1, 2, 3 and 4
Strategic outcome: Canadians have access to objective, high-quality, non-partisan statistics, statistical products, services and analyses on Canada's society that 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.
Successfully met 156,441 169,751 158,417 5 and 6
Strategic outcome: Canadians have access to objective, high-quality, non-partisan statistics, statistical products, services and analyses on Canada's population that fulfill legal requirements, are relevant to policy formulation and decision makers, and are responsive to emerging issues.
Census Statistics4 Census 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.
Successfully met 95,653 99,034 91,147 7, 8 and 9
Total5 454,332 508,940 474,031
… not applicable
1. Planned spending corresponds to the reference levels submitted when the 2007/2008 Report on Plans and Priorities was completed and does not include changes in funding that took place during the year (in $ thousands).
2. Total authorities shows the revised reference level, reflects the changes since the Report on Plans and Priorities was submitted and corresponds to the 2007/2008 Public Accounts (in $ thousands).
3. Actual spending corresponds to the 2007/2008 Public Accounts (in $ thousands).
4. As a cost-recovery project, the Aboriginal Peoples Survey is not included in the census statistics activity totals.
5. Planned spending, total authorities and actual spending amounts are presented net of respendable revenue.
Notes:
Because of rounding, figures may not add to totals shown.
All Statistics Canada program activities are linked to the Government Affairs, Government of Canada Outcome Area.