Canada's Head Statistician Resigns

The head of Statistics Canada stepped down Friday, moments after saying the agency has been stripped of its independence and lost its ability to safeguard private information.

Wayne Smith, who had lead StatsCan since 2010 and been with the organization for 35 years, presented his concerns in a resignation email Friday. His decision revolves around the government transferring StatsCan's massive data holdings to Shared Services, the Canada's federally operated IT department

“I believe it is the professional duty of a national statistician to resign if the national statistical office … is compromised. I would note that Statistics Canada’s independence cannot be assured without addressing the issue of Shared Services Canada," Smith's resignation email read.

The lack of independence imperils StatsCan's data, allowing "substantial control" to "anyone who can influence (it)". The Prime Minister's Office confirmed Smith's resignation and announced Anil Arora will serve as StatsCan's head official starting Monday. Arora was the assistant deputy minister of Health Canada's Health Products and Food branch prior to Friday's announcement.

Smith said he would make more comments early next week regarding his decision and its implications. The decision wasn't an easy one, Smith said, as evidenced by the defeated tone of the letter.

“I have made every effort to convince the current government to correct this situation. I have not succeeded," he said. 

 

What is Shared Services Canada? Started in 2011, this initiative is tasked with integrating 63 federal email programs into a single system. If successful, the effort will consolidate nearly 500 data centres into a more manageable seven, thereby streamlining the government’s telecommunications. The project is expected to spend $1 billion as of 2020 modernizing an outdated system that's currently vulnerable to hackers. The rosiest projections claim Canada will save $60 million