I have a short presentation to read out.
First, I would like to thank the committee for inviting us to appear today.
As indicated in the government's response to the Report of the Standing Committee on Official Languages on the Enumeration of Rights-Holders, Jean-Pierre Corbeil and I wish today to reiterate Statistics Canada's full commitment to finding better ways to collect quality data on rights holders. We are firmly committed to using all of our knowledge and expertise to appropriately respond to this important issue. We are fully committed to working diligently on this.
That being said, as the national statistics agency, we take our role and professional responsibility very seriously. These involve fully understanding the needs for statistical information and expressing them in a scientific and neutral way and, secondly, balancing these needs with quality imperatives and issues related to the time to complete the form. Statistics Canada has a long and rich tradition as well as an enviable international reputation for using methodological approaches and innovative tools to meet the many information needs of those who use our data.
In September 2017, we launched a public consultation of all Canadians on the content of the 2021 Census in order to better understand their needs for statistical information. This consultation is accessible online and will continue until December 8, 2017.
As part of this process, we sent a personal invitation to complete the online consultation to the various stakeholders and associations who had sent a letter to Minister Navdeep Bains regarding the importance of collecting sound evidence in order to assess the needs related to official language minority education. We also work with staff from Statistics Canada's regional offices, and with provincial and territorial statistics coordinators in order to achieve the most accurate representation possible of the needs and use of census information.
We have also planned a working meeting on this subject between Statistics Canada and the Fédération des communautés francohpones et acadienne du Canada, which will be held on October 11, 2017. The objective is to ensure full transparency and to discuss the best ways of sharing information about developments with community representatives from the provinces and territories.
Following the public consultation and the needs assessment based on the framework for determining census content, any proposed change to the content of the population census will be subject to rigorous evaluation, including qualitative and quantitative tests, based on Statistics Canada's high standards.
At this point, no one can predict the results of the census test questionnaire. I would very much like to tell you today that the results will be positive, but we will not know until a rigorous analysis of these results has been completed.
You will no doubt recall that the process for approving the census population questions is established by statute, specifically the Statistics Act. In our previous appearance, we referred to section 21 of the act, which provides that “The Governor in Council shall, by order, prescribe the questions to be asked in any census taken by Statistics Canada”. To inform Canadians of this decision, the act also requires the questions to be published in the Canada Gazette, no later than 30 days after the order is issued.
Based on the public consultations and the results of a rigorous process of testing and evaluations, Statistics Canada will make its recommendations about census content to the minister responsible for Statistics Canada, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. The recommendations about census content will be reviewed by cabinet in the fall of 2019 and winter of 2020, so the questions can be published in the Canada Gazette in the spring of 2020 at the latest. This schedule of activities is necessary to ensure that all the systems and process are appropriately updated, tested and completed in time for data collection beginning in mid-2021.
At the same time as the census process, we are working closely with our colleagues at the Department of Canadian Heritage to examine the options for collecting additional data on official language minority communities, including a new post-censal questionnaire. The issue of rights holders does of course involve eligibility, but it also involves the intention of rights holder parents to educate their children in the minority official language. So it is also important to gather information about those intentions, motives and obstacles, which would provide the basis for a post-censal questionnaire.
On November 10, 2017, we will also be meeting with the strategic management committee of the Canadian Education Statistics Council to consider the potential use of their administrative data on school enrolment for the enumeration of rights holders in Canada.
Moreover, as recommended in the report of the Standing Committee on Official Languages, Statistics Canada is in the process of creating an advisory committee whose mandate will be not only to examine and provide expert advice to Statistics Canada on the best ways of collecting reliable data about rights holders, but also to provide outside advice on language-related statistics in general. This working group should include recognized university experts on language-related statistics, language rights and policies, as well as key representatives from associations. Since this is an advisory committee for Statistics Canada, the members will be approved by the Chief Statistician of Canada. The first meeting of this advisory committee is scheduled for November 2017.
As you can see, Statistics Canada is committed to being proactive on this important issue and takes its role and responsibilities very seriously.
Mr. Jean-Pierre Corbeil and I will be pleased to answer your questions.