Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you for inviting us here today.
I would like to take a few minutes to give a brief statement about Statistics Canada's role as the national statistics agency and about a few products and databases that may be of interest to this committee.
Our mandate at Statistics Canada is to collect data about Canadian society and the economy and make information products available so that Canadians can make informed decisions and policy-makers can make informed choices. An important feature of the Canadian statistical system is that it is internationally recognized to be of high quality in terms of accuracy, and it is accessible to all users, including transparent access to the sources of data used and to the methods used to compile the information.
We constantly reflect and ask ourselves if we are doing our job well and whether the data system is adequate to answer the questions of the day. And then we react to our questioning.
In response to recent economic events we have been deliberating on a number of issues, both here in Canada and in international meetings with other national statistics agencies. First, is the data system providing enough information on the financial crisis for policy-makers to react, and is our data timely enough to give signals early enough for policy to react?
We have begun to put more emphasis on information products related to financial markets, including credit market data and the balance sheets of households, businesses, and governments of the nation.
We continue to produce the high-profile indicators such as gross domestic product, employment, and inflation, and have also begun to look at how we can adjust our data services towards more timely information on various industrial sectors.
I would like to bring your attention to three other products and services that may be of interest to the committee.
First, we publish a detailed database on the infrastructure of the nation. By infrastructure I mean roads, highways, bridges, and water and sewer systems, as well as power generation and transmission. This database includes the value of the stock of these types of assets by province and territory, as well as the average age of these assets, the value of annual depreciation, and repair and investment expenditures on these assets. This database was developed in cooperation with Infrastructure Canada.
Another product that is available on an annual basis for use by analysts is our input-output tables, and these are also available by province and territory.
The I-O tables present a comprehensive portrait of the production of goods and services by Canadian industries. For example, when a car is produced there are thousands of different parts, but energy and other services and labour are used in the process. The I-O tables can take apart the production of that car into its detailed inputs.
The tables are used to build I-O models that can be used to simulate, for a given amount of production of an industry, how much employment is potentially created and what other goods and services will be required for that production. This kind of simulation could be done for spending on roads and highways, or more generally for adding to production of any given industry.
Finally, Statistics Canada produces analytical studies using our data products on issues of significant importance to the country where we have a comparative advantage to fill information gaps. For example, a recent study on the effect of infrastructure on productivity of Canadian businesses concluded that about one-quarter to one-half of business sector productivity growth over the last 40 years was attributable to infrastructure capital.
I have a list of the recent studies related to infrastructure available and can leave it with the clerk, if you're interested.
I hope this information is helpful, and we would be pleased to answer questions.