The Statistics Act gives Statistics Canada the authority to "collect, compile, analyze, abstract, and publish information on the economic, social and general conditions of the country and its citizens."
To balance Statistics Canada's extensive powers to collect information, the Act establishes the legal requirement for the agency to protect the confidentiality of respondents to Statistics Canada surveys. The legislation makes a formal commitment to respondents that the information they provide will never be released to anyone in a form that will identify them without their authorization.
Citizens who refuse to participate in providing information, or who provide false information, have committed an offence under the Statistics Act under c. S-19:
...information collected under the authority of the Statistics Act, R.S.C. 1985...and must be provided by law.
Refusal to provide information: ...are liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars or/and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months.
8. The Minister may, by order, authorize the obtaining, for a particular purpose, of information, other than information for a census of population or agriculture, on a voluntary basis, but where such information is requested section 31 does not apply in respect of a refusal or neglect to furnish the information. 1980-81-82-83, c. 47, s. 41."
Other legislation relating to this act include:
Consent to release future census records
After years of study by expert panels, discussion, debate (privacy vs the interests of genealogists and historians), and two earlier legislative attempts, Bill S-18 An Act to Amend the Statistics Act received Royal Assent on June 18, 2005. The Act creates section 18.1 of the Statistics Act which releases personal census records for censuses taken between 1911 and 2001, inclusive, 92 years after each census. In addition, starting with the 2006 Census, Canadians can consent to the public release of their personal census information after 92 years. (See Question 53 of Canada 2006 Census.) Census returns are in the custody of Statistics Canada and the records are closed until 92 years after the taking of a census, when those records may be opened for public use and transferred to Library and Archives Canada subject to individual consent where applicable.
- Census in Canada - list of national census taken in Canada
- Demographics of Canada - details on the makeup of the country
- Canada 2001 Census - details of the last census taken
- Canada 2006 Census - details on the current 2006 census
- "BILL S-18: AN ACT TO AMEND THE STATISTICS ACT". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
- "Statistics Act". Government of Canada. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
18. (1) The information contained in the returns of each census of population taken between 1910 and 2005 is no longer subject to sections 17 and 18 ninety-two years after the census is taken. (3) When sections 17 and 18 cease to apply to information referred to in subsection (1) or (2), the information shall be placed under the care and control of the Library and Archives of Canada.