Why does Bill C-626 change how the Chief Statistician is selected?

We All Count graphic finalBill C-626 gives new responsibilities to the Chief Statistician so that the work of Statistics Canada is not unduly subject to the political imperatives of the day.

In describing the duties of the Chief Statistician, Bill C-626 removes the phrase “under the direction of the Minister” and instead requires the Chief Statistician to establish and publish guidelines, in technical and methodological matters, based on international best practices. It also gives the Chief Statistician the duty of educating the public, consulting stakeholders and choosing census questions. The Minister may give orders, but if they fall under technical or methodological areas, the orders must be made public.

Because the Chief Statistician is granted additional duties and independence, Bill C-626 requires that he or she be chosen in a way that safeguards the credibility and integrity of the office. For that reason, a process is established which is similar to that whereby officers of Parliament are chosen. In this case there is extensive consultation with stakeholders by appointing a search committee representing senior representatives of the civil service, the statistics profession, and the Canadian research community. There is also consultation with the leaders of all official parties in the House of Commons because the Chief Statistician should be credibly non-partisan.