New legislation to give Statistics Canada more independence

News Release

December 7, 2016 – Ottawa – Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Canadians rely on the integrity and accuracy of the data produced by Statistics Canada to properly manage their affairs, improve their health and well-being, and facilitate business and economic growth. Impartial information is essential for making informed decisions.

To ensure that Canadians continue to benefit from high-quality statistics, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, today tabled a bill that proposes to reinforce Statistics Canada's independence through legislative amendments to the Statistics Act.

Statistics Canada has operated, by convention, as an arm's-length organization with no direct ministerial involvement in its operations to gather, produce and publish statistical information. The bill proposes to formalize Statistics Canada's independence by entrenching this independence into law. The bill, once passed, will ensure that decisions on statistical matters are transparent and are based on professional considerations.

The amendments to the Statistics Act will set out the responsibilities of the Minister and those of the Chief Statistician in order to increase transparency around decisions and directives made by the government as they relate to Statistics Canada. This will reinforce Statistics Canada's credibility and increase Canadians' trust in their national statistical agency. It will also align Canada more closely with international statistical principles and guidelines.

The targeted amendments will also:

  • enable the appointment of the Chief Statistician by the Governor in Council to a renewable term of not more than five years;
  • create the Canadian Statistics Advisory Council to reinforce the independence, relevance and transparency of the national statistical system;
  • remove from the Act the threat of imprisonment for those who refuse to respond to mandatory surveys; and
  • allow the transfer of records for all censuses from 2021 onwards to Library and Archives Canada after 92 years, and the transfer of records where consent was given for the censuses of population taken in 2006, 2011 and 2016 as well as the 2011 National Household Survey.

These amendments reflect our government's commitment to increasing transparency and supporting evidence-based decision making. By strengthening Statistics Canada's independence, the Government of Canada will ensure that Canadians can continue to rely on the integrity and accuracy of the data produced by their national statistical agency.


"Our government believes that for a national statistical agency to be credible, there must be a high degree of professional independence. Impartial data are necessary for planning critical services that all Canadians rely on, including housing, schooling, public transportation and skills training for employment."

– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Quick facts

  • Currently, the Statistics Act has no specific provision establishing the independence of Statistics Canada.
  • Canada endorses the United Nations Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Recommendation on Good Statistical Practice. The amendments will better align Canada with these international standards.

Related products

Follow Minister Bains on social media.
Twitter: @MinisterISED


Philip Proulx
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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