To ensure that their data holdings remain both useful and used, statistical agencies such as Statistics Canada have had to adapt to the evolving analytical needs of users. These needs have changed as a result of advances in technology and in analytical methods, such as those for surveys with complex designs, and even as a result of the increased wealth of data collected by the agencies themselves. Statistics Canada has been releasing public use microdata files since the 1970s. The advent of longitudinal household surveys in the early 1990s, however, has led the Agency to explore other approaches that would permit access to the rich databases of these surveys while ensuring that the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act would be respected. The following three sections present three approaches currently used by the Agency: public use microdata files, remote access and research data centres. In presenting these approaches, particular attention is paid to issues related to the protection of the confidentiality of respondents’ data and their solution. More issues and future work are given in the conclusion.
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