Coming Feb 1, 2012: Canada to make census/CANSIM data free

A data wonk’s dream: STATSCAN to drop pay wall
Tavia Grant | Globe and Mail
December 1, 2011

If Canada is to morph into a knowledge-based economy, its citizens need better access to reliable, unbiased information.

With that in mind, Statistics Canada will make all of its standard data available for free on its website, starting next year. As of Feb. 1, all data known as Canadian Socio-Economic Information Management System (or CANSIM) will be posted freely on the agency’s website. Census and geography data will also become free.

Statistics Canada to make all online data free
Carl Meyer | Embassy
December 6, 2011
Canada takes a page out of the US playbook – open access to public data. Follow US lead and make your National Household Survey (NHS) mandatory.

“As of February 1, 2012, Statistics Canada will begin to implement a new dissemination model. Standard products readily available on its website—including CANSIM data, census data and geography products—will be offered free of charge,” reads one letter sent to a distributor dated Aug. 23, and obtained by Embassy.

The letter acknowledged the impact the change would have on businesses. But the purpose of making all these products free, it said, is “to provide users with maximum benefit from statistical information about Canada’s economy and society.”

But Mr. Frayne said the decision to make Statistics Canada online data free was part of a years-long strategy by the agency, and while it “aligns with the principles” of the open data initiative, it was not a result of it.

He also said the move was not related to the decision to get rid of the long-form census.

The impact of that decision is still reverberating in the public sphere. On Nov. 23, the Canadian Council on Social Development appeared in federal court arguing that the new short-form census should include more questions on subjects such as ethnicity, religion and disability status.

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