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Ensuring continuity

Statistics Canada’s COVID-19 response

This article is also available in Russian.

In response to the evolving COVID-19 situation, Statistics Canada has adopted a strategy that seeks to ensure the continuity of Statistics Canada’s mission critical programs and essential services. This note provides an overview of Statistics Canada’s response on such programmes and services, as well as other activites related to monitoring, analysing and modeling the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 epidemic in Canada.

Mission-critical programs

  1. Consumer Price Index (essential service)
  2. Labour Force Survey (essential service)
  3. Census of Population
  4. Census of Agriculture
  5. Components of the Industrial Product Price Index
  6. International Merchandise Trade Statistics
  7. Quarterly Balance of Payments
  8. Quarterly Survey of International Trade in Services
  9. Quarterly Financial Survey
  10. Tax data processing
  11. Survey of Employment Payroll and Hours
  12. Retail Trade Survey
  13. Government Finance Statistics
  14. Quarterly Gross Domestic Product
  15. Monthly Survey of Manufacturing
  16. Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey
  17. Monthly Gross Domestic Product
  18. Non-residential capital and repair expenditures
  19. Building permits
  20. Investment in building construction
  21. Financial flow and national balance sheet accounts

Consumer Price Index

With respect to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), Statistics Canada continues collection. A significant amount of data comes from alternative sources and no interruption is expected. For the February compilation, air fares were excluded from the compilation of the CPI since people weren’t able to take their flights. Decision on how to treat goods that cannot be consumed still on-going - one option would be to impute their movement with All-items CPI. Currently, no change in expenditure weight is planned. Even though consumers are changing their consumption behaviour, it is considered a temporary situation that doesn’t justify changing the basket weights. For further information about how Statistics Canada has addressed COVID-19 (to date) with respect to COVID-19 please follow this link.

Labour Force Survey

Labor Force Survey (LFS) collection continues and March collection (for February reference month) marked the first ever completely remote LFS cycle. We deployed the required laptops and cellphones to our interviewers to make this happen to allow our interviewers to work from home. Our telephone interviewers (CATI) are fully and securely connected now from their homes and continue their important work as scheduled. Our in-person field interviewer operations (CAPI) have been temporarily stopped in response to the public health directions, and employees are now equipped to support telephone work where possible. Launch of the Labour Force Survey Disaster - Catastrophe Module (see also Social Impacts section below) for the March reference month will add two questions designed to measure the extent of hours lost (e.g., absences due to a person’s own illness, self-isolation, caring for a sick family member) and gained (e.g. having to work extra hours) during the entire month of March as a result of COVID-19. There are also plans to eventually add questions on EI applications and telework.

Building permits

In the context of the rapidly-evolving situation around the novel coronavirus, Statistics Canada is releasing March 2020 preliminary flash estimates of building permits for select regions. Data for this release is from open-source building permit reports for 23 large municipalities, as well as municipal building permit reports submitted to Statistics Canada by 2 April 2020. Combined, these municipalities comprised approximately 29 percent of total building permits by value in 2019. For further information on the release, please follow this link.

Industrial Product Price Index

April 8, 2020 Statistics Canada released flash estimates for the Industrial Product Price Index (IPPI) for March 2020 using data received to date. While this is not the full set of information on the IPPI (which will be released on 30 April 2020), these flash estimates provide an indication of economic situation in Canada. Information on this can be found here.

Other Statistics Canada activities related to data and COVID19

Statistics Canada is undertaking several other innovative activities to respond to the growing need to provide information on the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19, and support the efforts of front-line agencies such as Public Health Agency of Canada, the Department of National Defence, as well as first responders in addressing this crisis.

For general information related to our activities please see: https://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/covid19

Statistics Canada has adopted has set up a multi-disciplinary team to address various data needs and the work and this work has been organized along four broad themes:

1. Economic impacts, analysis and modeling

Statistics will utilize its analysis and modelling capabilities to release as much timely information as possible around the possible impacts of the virus in a coherent and coordinated fashion, as the situation develops. As well, a special Daily article will be published after each monthly release cycle that integrates the key results across programs. This work will utilize Statistics Canada’s modelling capacity to support the release of mission critical economic indicators and/or to release broad advance economic indicators using nowcasting techniques.

The first release of the interactive dashboard which examines the impact of COVID-19 on the economy can be found here.

2. Special geospatial data requests and indicators, production and support

Statistics Canada is providing its considerable geo-spatial expertise to respond to pressing information requests for geo-enabled data coming from various federal partners and first responders monitoring and intervening directly in the field during the COVID-19 crisis. This work will facilitate access to geo coding and mapping of relevant socioeconomic information. This work involves working with Natural Resources Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Public Safety Canada, to build dashboards and portals for PHAC to help them disseminate socio-economic and health data, and information from their epidemiologists to other federal departments, and health agencies at the provincial, territorial, and local levels.

One example of Statistics Canada’s support to our public health agency and the public can be found here and here.

3. Social impacts and new social data development related to COVID-19

Statistics Canada will monitor all work that could provide additional useful and timely information for the management of the COVID-19 crisis. In the immediate term, this Statistics Canada will remain “on-call” to respond to urgent requests for support from PHAC (or other Federal Departments) and other COVID-related Statistics Canada efforts. Over the mid- and long-term, the Agency will identify and monitor key indicators of the social impacts of COVID-19. This work includes launching of the Disaster-Catastrophe module in the LFS as well as associated data development initiatives (e.g., panel surveys, rapid stats, etc.) for retrospectively assessing the crisis.

  • Web panel survey on the impacts of COVID-19

    Statistics Canada launched a web panel survey from 29 March to 3 April 2020 and covered topics on the impacts of COVID19 on Canadians with a reference period that covered 22—28 March 2020. Participants consisted of a web panel of Canadians living in all 10 provinces. Follow this link to further information on the Canadian Perspectives Survey Series (CPSS). The first release from the web panel survey was on April 8 and can be found here. Other iterations of this survey will take place as necessary.


  • Crowdsourcing the impacts of COVID-19 on Canadians

    Statistics Canada is using crowdsourcing to get an understanding about the impact of COVID-19 on Canadians. Questions include actions Canadian are taking to reduce the spread as well as impacts on their labour market activities. Information about this initiative can be found here.

4. Modelling and surveillance support

Statistics Canada will respond to pressing information requests mostly coming from Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) by providing expertise and consultative services in the area of modeling and microsimulation to support PHAC work in the area of projections. PHAC has already been engaged on this front and are considering options. Numerous projects utilizing Statistics Canada microsimulation capacity and its data science expertise are under consideration.