Finding statistics on the Statistics Canada website (Part I)

We can all thank former British prime minister
Benjamin Disraeli for the familiar saying about “Lies and statistics.” But while we may share his feelings, we all
find statistics useful at some point in our research. Instead of working with data, statistics give
us numbers that help us interpret the data and understand patterns of behavior. For example, how many Canadians are currently
unemployed—the unemployment rate is a measure of the proportion of Canadians not working. Seems like groceries are getting more expensive—the
consumer price index takes data about spending and helps us understand where costs might
be changing. When you are looking for statistics about
Canada and Canadians, then the Statistics Canada website is the right place to begin
your search. In this three-part video series from the Carleton
University Library, we will show you some strategies for navigating this site—which
can be overwhelming. In Part I, we’ll start with the search box
and do a keyword search. Then in Part II we’ll look at three special
tools: Finding statistics by subject, The Daily, the Statistics Can daily news bulletin
about its latest information and studies. Key Indicators—these statistics tell us
something about our population and economy. Finally, in Part III, we’ll take a look
at the CANSIM tables—the Canadian Socioeconomic information management system tables—which
give us access to data as well as statistics. So let’s get started with Part I. Here we are on the Statistics Canada website:
http://www.statcan.gc.ca Statistics Canada is Canada’s central statistical
collection agency. In Canada, providing statistics is a federal
responsibility and Statistics Canada is legislated to serve this function for the whole of Canada
and each of the provinces and territories. The Statistics Canada website contains a broad
selection of publications, statistical overviews, census tables, etc. Tools are reliable, accurate, and free. There are a number of options for finding
information on the home page and in this part, we will look at the search box and doing a
keyword search. The search box is in the upper right-hand
corner of the page. Perhaps you’ve just read something about
home care in Canada and you’d like to see what kind of statistics are available from
Stat Can. If you use home care as your search terms,
you get a number of results including a link to a story in The Daily about Canadians receiving
home care in 2012. By reading the announcement, you discover
statistics, such as the percentage of Canadians receiving home care. 8%. You also identify the survey through which
the original data was collected: the 2012 General Social Survey. Be sure to look at the “related information”
and click on the link to the pdf version of the announcement. As well, scroll down the page and click on
the links to related documents. This is the end of Part I.

Stephen Childs

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