December 16th, 2018

Statcan chief: Agency can’t back down from push for new data sources


By The Canadian Press on December 6, 2018.

Anil Arora, Chief Statistician of Canada (Statistics Canada), appears as a witness at a Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Canada's chief statistician says his agency needs to do a better job of telling the country why it needs and how it protects information after blowback from a proposal to collect banking information from 500,000 Canadians. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA – Canada’s chief statistician says his agency needs to do a better job of telling the country why it needs information and how it protects data after blowback from a proposal to collect banking information from 500,000 Canadians.

Statistics Canada has pressed pause on the pilot project until the end of a review by the federal privacy watchdog.

Anil Arora says the agency will look for other ways to feed growing data needs, but adds the agency can’t back away from efforts to modernize how it collects data.

Pushes to collect data from new sources will only move as quickly as Canadians deem comfortable, Arora says.

Statistics published by the agency are used to set interest rates on loans and mortgages, help local planners decide where to place new schools or hospitals, and set the value of federal seniors benefits like old age security.

Arora’s comments come after a morning speech at a conference marking the agency’s centenary where he said Statistics Canada was not immune to a global decline in citizens’ trust in institutions and experts.

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