StatsCan’s ag programs to be downsized

Canada’s national statistics agency will eliminate or reduce 34 programs and surveys to meet the government’s budget-cutting target, but will leave most economic indicators untouched.

Statistics Canada published the list of data it is putting on the chopping block on its website last week.

The cuts are part of the Conservative government’s plan to eliminate its budget deficit by 2015-16, which involves forcing StatsCan to find savings of $33.9 million by 2014-15.

"Programs essential for fiscal and monetary policy, as well as data required for the administration of significant federal transfer payments, are not affected by these measures," StatsCan said in the notice.

The only economic indicator to be completely eliminated is the composite leading indicator, which was announced earlier.

StatsCan will also reduce the frequency of data from nine different agricultural reports, including the field crop reports and the hog survey.

Specialized data on the energy and transportation sectors will also take a big hit. Other areas to be cut include publications on health, education, culture, the non-profit sector, public sector statistics, science and technology, the services industry, and an aboriginal statistical training program.

In some cases, the data will be available in other formats, StatsCan said.

In addition to the program cuts, about half of the agency’s 5,700 staff received notices earlier this year that their jobs may be on the line.

The actual number of people dismissed will be much smaller but the changes have raised concerns among some users about StatsCan’s ability to uphold its sterling reputation for data quality and analysis.

— Reporting for Reuters by Louise Egan

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