What is Statistics Canada (StatCan)

Statistics Canada (StatCan) is a Canadian governmental agency responsible for producing statistics for a wide range of purposes, including on the country's economy and cultural makeup. Most notably, Statistics Canada conducts the Canadian census every five years, which each Canadian household is required by law to complete. The organization is part of Canada's Industry Portfolio, a group of 11 government organizations tasked with helping to build a knowledge-based economy within Canada and generally promoting economic and job growth. Statistics Canada is often referred to by its official abbreviation, "StatCan."

BREAKING DOWN Statistics Canada (StatCan)

Broadly, Statistics Canada (StatCan) focuses on collecting statistics dealing with Canadian agriculture, environment, health, prices, industries, social conditions, travel and tourism. The results from these collections are used to gauge the general health and trend of the Canadian economy to help Canadians better understand their country. In addition to the census conducted every five years, Statistics Canada conducts roughly 380 active surveys on 32 various aspects of Canadian life.

Statistics Canada's Mandate

Statistics Canada as it is known today was legislated under the Canadian Statistics Act, though the history of the agency can be traced back to the nation's founding. The two main objectives of the agency are "to provide statistical information and analysis about Canada's economic and social structure ... " and "to promote sound statistical standards and practices ... " The agency seeks to provide data in support of evidence-based decision-making in the public and private sectors and inform debate on public policy. Statistics Canada is a member of the United Nations Statistical Commission.

Statistics Canada's Data

Statistics Canada traditionally polled citizens and collected data through mailed surveys to individuals and businesses. More recently, the agency has begun distributing and collecting data electronically, through online surveys and portals, including the introduction of the first electronic census survey in 2006. The information gathered and distributed by Statistics Canada is used by the Canadian public and media, government, business and academic organizations, as well as by foreign institutions. Data is also collated and available electronically for free on the agency's website, where users can search for data on topics ranging from Aboriginal peoples to waste management. For example, the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program (PCEIP) is maintained by Statistics Canada, and draws from a host of data sources to distribute information on the school-age population and labor outcomes. This report is published bi-annually.