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Statistics and history

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As the current Chief Statistician of Canada, it is my pleasure to be able to comment on this historical document, which was started well before my tenure.

In the press of rapidly changing current events, and with the need and desire to provide statistical services relevant to those events, it is essential to sustain an historical perspective. This volume, a joint product of the Social Science Federation of Canada and Statistics Canada, contributes to that perspective.

Just as current statistical information provides the foundation and matrix for identification of current societal issues, for policy formulation and for program monitoring, so also does historical statistics help portray the realities of Canadian history.

In this volume, one can trace the historical conditions of Canadians respecting inflation, housing, employment, health, education, balance of payments - all matters of current relevance.

This volume also displays the many changing complexities and difficulties of statistical measurement of social, economic, institutional and environmental phenomena. Concepts, definitions, design, methods, and processing procedures must be evolved over time, but with balanced attention to consistency among statistical series and to continuity over time.

I want to express my appreciation to all those who contributed to this work - some are further identified in the following foreword and preface. In particular, Professor M.C. Urquhart deserves unique thanks for his persistence in the production of this work.

Martin B. Wilk