Dr. Michael Ornstein

Director, Institute for Social Research

York University

Title: "Statistics Canada Research Data Centres "

In the mid 1990s, Statistics Canada was faced with a strange dilemma. Its own
imagination and support from a key federal department, HRDC, had resulted in the
establishment of very interesting new surveys, including the National Longitudinal
Survey of Children and Youth (the NLSCY or "kids survey"), the (6-year longitudinal)
Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID) and National Population Health Survey
(the NPHS). Confidentiality restrictions of the Statistics Act, however, prevented
the data from being used outside of Statistics Canada premises in Ottawa. Without
research results coming from these data, their long run funding would be imperiled,
not to mention the sheer intellectual waste.

A way out of this dilemma was provided by a task force that included key Statistics
Canada people and academics, of which the speaker was one. The Research Data Centres
(RDCs) established on the recomendation of the task force provide "master files" of
the major longitudinal survey and most recently the "long form" Censuses -- essentially
free of the "coarsening" required to preserve confidentiality in "public use" datafiles.
There are now 15 RDCs on Canadian campuses, plus six branch RDCs, one of which is at
York -- opening in late February. In this talk I will review the history of the RDCs
in a bit more detail, describe how they operate, review the key datasets available and
comment on the possibilities for analysis. For a description of the RDCs go to