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Canadians and their government have established Statistics Canada to have access to a trusted source of information. Trust can only be established if the data Statistics Canada produces are consistent with the country's needs and representative of the world we are seeking to describe. In other words, information has to be relevant and of high quality.
Quality is, therefore, fundamental to Statistics Canada's mandate to produce information. There is an essential characteristic of quality that needs to be understood: quality, defined as representativeness of the universe we are trying to capture, will deteriorate automatically in the absence of pro-active action. This is because, as the world around us evolves, our methods to maintain representativeness of our data must evolve as well.
In view of these realities, Statistics Canada has a long tradition of providing guidance in its survey designs by consolidating its experiences and conclusions about what constitute "best practices" into a set of Quality Guidelines. The first edition of Quality Guidelines appeared in 1985. Revised editions were released in 1987, 1998 and 2003. In keeping with the need to keep the guidelines evergreen, the present document has been significantly updated from the previous edition to reflect further advances in survey methodology over the past six years.
The guidelines presented in this document do not all apply equally to every data acquisition process. Their applicability and importance must be carefully considered in light of the particular requirements and constraints of individual programs. This document must, therefore, be used with professional care and judgment.
While the guidelines provided in this document are no substitute for expertise and judgment on the part of survey design staff, the underlying concern for quality must pervade all our activities. All staff involved in statistical activities are responsible for ensuring that quality has high priority in the design and implementation of statistical methods and procedures under their control.
I want to thank many Statistics Canada experts who have contributed to the preparation of the Quality Guidelines over many years. The guidance of the Methods and Standards Committee helped to make this a better document.
Munir A. Sheikh