Canada to mod­ern­ize statis­tics agency

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

The Canadian gov­ern­ment on Fri­day out­lined its plans to mod­ern­ize its main sta­tis­ti­cal agency, which in­clude iden­ti­fy­ing new ways of col­lect­ing data and mak­ing it eas­ier for peo­ple and busi­nesses to find and use the in­for­ma­tion. With in­for­ma­tion avail­able more quickly and from a wider va­ri­ety of sources than ever be­fore, “Statis­tics Canada must in­no­vate to re­main re­spon­sive to the needs of Cana­di­ans,” In­no­va­tion Min­is­ter Navdeep Bains said in a speech to a busi­ness group in Toronto, his first re­marks on how Canada wants to be­come a leader in an in­creas­ingly data-driven world. Statis­tics Canada re­leases the coun­try’s of­fi­cial eco­nomic data on ev­ery­thing from jobs to trade and the re­ports are closely watched by mar­kets and in­vestors. Bains is re­spon­si­ble for Statis­tics Canada, though the agency op­er­ates at arms-length from the gov­ern­ment. Ques­tions were raised about the agency’s op­er­a­tions last year when its head abruptly quit, while its web­site has been plagued by out­ages and de­lays.

Bains iden­ti­fied a num­ber of key fo­cus ar­eas, in­clud­ing find­ing new meth­ods of gen­er­at­ing and col­lect­ing data be­yond sur­veys. The agency is al­ready mak­ing in-roads in that re­spect, the head of Statis­tics Canada, Anil Arora, said at the same event, point­ing to the use of satel­lite data to track crops as an ex­am­ple.

Arora said the agency plans to ex­pand its ac­qui­si­tion and use of data that is col­lected by other gov­ern­ment agen­cies and the pri­vate sec­tor. Such in­for­ma­tion is used to com­ple­ment or re­place sur­vey data. The shift to more so-called ad­min­is­tra­tive data will pro­vide more timely in­for­ma­tion and re­duce how much time busi­nesses and Cana­di­ans spend on fill­ing out sur­veys, Arora said. The gov­ern­ment also wants to look at new ways to in­te­grate data from a va­ri­ety of sources and make the data eas­ier for busi­nesses and an­a­lysts to use by mak­ing it avail­able in its raw form, Bains said.

Still, the plans are in their early stages, with the gov­ern­ment seek­ing in­put from Cana­di­ans through the rest of the sum­mer and into the fall. The Lib­eral gov­ern­ment’s bud­get re­leased earlier this year al­lo­cated C$39.9 mil­lion ($31.79 mil­lion) over five years to Statis­tics Canada to cre­ate a data­base of home sales in the coun­try. Crit­ics have long ar­gued that Canada does not track enough data on its hous­ing mar­ket, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to quan­tify risks. — Reuters

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