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Meeting With Anil Aurora- Chief Statistician of Canada

In our first week back after the Christmas break, we had the opportunity to meet with Anil Aurora, Chief Statistician of Canada, and Jacques Fauteux, Assistant Chief Statistician. It was lovely to also connect with the interns from the Parliamentary Internship Program who were also present. This meeting was part of a larger, year-long series of meetings and webinars with Statistics Canada and our federal counterparts at the Parliamentary Internship Program.

First, Mr. Aurora shared a brief history of the organization; Statistics Canada has been around since 1918, when it had only 123 employees! It has grown quite a bit since then. Mr. Aurora and Mr. Fauteux also spoke to our questions on a range of topics. We discussed Statistics Canada’s approach to the OCAP Principles (Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession) when working with Indigenous communities, the history and future of race-based data collection, and Statistics Canada’s role as a leader in data collection internationally. Prior to our meeting, we weren’t all aware that Statistics Canada played a role on the international stage, but we learned that the agency chairs or co-chairs half of the 40 committees on statistics at the United Nations.

We also had a fascinating discussion about how Statistics Canada will navigate a future where Big Data Companies play a prominent role. While the agency will inevitably have to work with Big Data companies, Mr. Aurora stressed to us how his job while working with the Big Data industry is to always question how the data will benefit the people of Canada. Transparency, he argued, is crucial to maintain the trust that exists between Statistics Canada and Canadians. Ultimately, Statistics Canada belongs to Canadians, and so this trust is crucial to the agency’s continued existence and success.

We are so grateful to Mr. Aurora and Mr. Fauteux for taking the time to speak with us and share their fascinating and candid observations on the work that they do. We are looking forward to more Statistics Canada webinars throughout the year. Thank you to Michael Jacino, Director at Statistics Canada, for coordinating this amazing educational experience.

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