Data Research Centre

Guidelines for New Users of Data at the RDC@Western

Guidelines for New Users of Data at the RDC at Western

To enable Statistics Canada to fulfill its mandate, the Statistics Act1 allows for the use of contractors, researchers, or employees of other government departments to undertake research and analysis. To access protected information to perform these services, such individuals are deemed to be employed under the Statistics Act.

Research Data Centre (RDC) Researchers must become deemed employees of Statistics Canada2 to access Statistics Canada confidential microdata.3 The implications of deemed employee status for the RDC Researchers are twofold:
i. Researchers are required to deliver a product4 ( e.g. statistical work, article, thesis/dissertation, etc.) to Statistics Canada upon completion of their project.
ii. RDC Researchers are subject to the same policies (and related penalties) under the Statistics Act as are all Statistics Canada employees.5

Section 17 of the Statistics Act  states: ”No person, other than a person employed or deemed to be employed under this Act, and sworn under Section 6, shall be permitted to examine any identifiable individual return made for the purposes of this Act.”
2 Reference: Statistics Canada’s “Directive on the use of Deemed Employees”.
Individuals who will not be analyzing the confidential data in the RDC, but who come to the RDC as part of a research team and have contact with confidential materials, are also required to follow the same process to become a “deemed employee.”
Products are discussed in the full PDF Researcher Guide document
Although being a deemed employee does not create an employment relationship between Statistics Canada and RDC researchers.

Becoming a Deemed Employee and Accessing the Research Data Centre

The overall certification process of becoming a deemed employee consists of several events that occur before the Director of MAD signs the MRC.

1.0 Deemed Employee Certification Process
i. Approval of the Proposal
ii. Granting of Security Clearance
iii. Affirming the Statistics Act Oath
iv. Acknowledgement of having read relevant documentation: Sections 17 (1), 30 and 34 of the Statistics Canada Act.V
v. Acknowledgment in writing  (by signing the MRC) having read, understood and agreed to comply with the Researcher Guide, Orientation Session, Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, the employment, and the Statistics Canada code of conduct. 
vi. Complete and submit to the Director of MAD, a confidential Report if there’s a potential conflict of interest.

Once the Researcher completes this process, (s)he receives the status of a deemed employee. The MRC can then be signed by the Director of MAD, making it a legally-binding document certifying that the required procedures have been followed. The Researcher can then be granted access to the confidential microdata.

NOTE: Current Access Researchers (those who have continuous access or who have completed a project within the previous year) and Expired Access Researchers (those who have not been active in the RDC for one year or more) starting a new project in the RDC may not be required to complete all the steps of the project certification process again. Please discuss this with an Analyst.

1.1 Once the project proposal has been approved
The RDC Analyst prepares a draft MRC and notifies the Researcher(s) that they need to go over the MRC document and make sure there are no errors with the spelling of names, contact information and data being requested. Once the Researcher(s) confirm the information on the MRC, the Analyst then sets up a time for an Orientation Session. All Research members on the MRC who will be accessing the data need to attend the orientation. The MRC is signed by the Researchers and witnessed by an RDC staff to confirm Researcher’s identification.

1.2 Attending an Orientation Session
The orientation session is designed to familiarize Researchers11 with the responsibilities associated with Statistics Canada deemed employee status and the security measures surrounding access to the RDC. During the orientation, many of the steps of the certification process will be completed.

A) Statistics Canada Oath
At the beginning of the orientation session, Researchers are expected to read the Statistics Canada Oath of Affirmation.  The Statistics Canada Oath of Affirmation and Secrecy (Statistics Act Oath) must be affirmed aloud by each participating Researcher, prior to being given access to the confidential microdata. All deemed employees of Statistics Canada are required to take the Oath as it conveys the obligation of the deemed employee to protect the confidentiality of the data. 
B) Code and Policy
After the Oath has taken place as a deemed employee of Statistics Canada, (s)he agrees to follow all rules and instructions under the  Statistics Act, as well as Statistics Canada policies. Two important documents outlining Statistics Canada policies are the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and the policy on conflict of interest and Post-Employment.

Each RDC Researcher, as a deemed employee, reads the code and policy to interpret his/her particular situation for each contract that (s)he signs. The Researcher should keep three issues in mind to determine whether (s)he has a conflict of interest:
              i. The Research will be used only for the purposes indicated in the proposal
              ii. All Researchers involved in the project have completely revealed all their sources of funding and support12 
              iii. No one (or organization) outside of those persons (or organizations) listed in the proposal has an ‘interest’ in the project.

If Researchers discover that there is a conflict of interest or if there is any clause in the code and policy that may be an issue for the Researcher, it is his/her responsibility to discuss the situation with the Analyst and/or Director of M.A.D.

C) Security Clearance
All Researchers are required to complete the Government of Canada Personnel Screening Consent and Authorization form with a full five year listing of their address history. With this form, a criminal background check is conducted to establish the Researcher's identity, confirm his/her work/education credentials and establish his/her personal reliability and ability to be entrusted with Statistics Canada’s confidential microdata. Once the Researcher passes the check, they are granted a security clearance expiry date. It is the length of time the Researcher is able to enter the RDC and access the confidential Microdata13. The Security clearance date cab ne renewed with appropriate documentation.
1.3 Once the MRC and Security Clearance is complete: 
A welcome email is sent to the Researcher(s) to access the data at the RDC. The RDC staff will provide each Researcher with a temporary password, which is to be changed once the Researcher begins to work on their project for the first time. A Western ID card is also needed for the door entry access to the RDC, it is programmed by the RDC Staff. If the Researcher is coming from another RDC then a visitor’s pass may be given for use but must be returned to RDC staff before the Researcher leaves for the day. 

11 For Researchers who have been out of the RDC for more than a year, it is highly recommended that the orientation session be given again. This is an opportunity to review the policies and procedures of the RDC program, some of which may have changed.
12 Although binding for life, Researchers may be requested to reaffirm the Oath.
13 The security clearance once nearing expiration can be renewed with appropriate documentation.

Data Access Processing Times
It may take about eight weeks from the moment the proposal is approved to accessing the RDC data. MRC's sent to the Statistics Canada Head Office get approved within four weeks. However, the length of the processing time depends on how busy Head Office is. Please keep in mind that the process may take a shorter or longer time because of this. We encourage Researchers to apply at their earliest convenience to ensure that they are granted access at a conveient time. Please speak with an RDC Analyst if you have any questions regarding, processing times.