Toronto supports low-cost access to research data for community groups
The City of Toronto supports community groups in their efforts to enhance the wellbeing of Toronto's citizens. It also recognizes that having low-cost access to important research data will help community groups to better understand, and respond to, the social and economic trends within their communities.
Starting in July 2008, the City of Toronto has agreed to work with the Canadian Council on Social Development as the lead coordinator for 24 community-based human services agencies to ensure access to Statistics Canada data – at a cost of $200 per year, for the next four years. Participants will have access to neighbourhood-level data, as well as that from the other 14 municipalities involved in this initiative and support for analysis of the data and the dissemination of results. The Community Social Data Strategy will save agencies thousands of dollars, promote better planning and build new research networks and partnerships in Toronto and across the country.
Backgrounder on the Community Social Data Strategy
The overall goal of the Community Social Data Strategy (CSDS) is to raise awareness within the municipal and non-profit sectors about the potential uses of research data to better understand the social and economic trends within their communities. It achieves this by increasing municipal and non-profit sector (community-based human service agencies) access to Statistics Canada data in a more cost effective manner.
This initiative is coordinated by the Canadian Council on Social Development (CCSD) in Ottawa, in partnership with Statistics Canada. There are 14 other municipalities involved in this initiative across Canada. The CCSD acts and negotiates on behalf of the 15 consortia, in meetings with Statistics Canada.
This initiative has been in place now for several years and started with the distribution of data from the 2001 national census1. The specific objectives are to:
- purchase, facilitate, and streamline access to Statistics Canada data
- train organizations to analyze and process this data
- communicate and disseminate the results as widely as possible
For detailed information about the CSDS, please visit: http://www.ccsd.ca/subsites/socialdata/home.html
City of Toronto's role
The City of Toronto2 acts as the primary representative and contact for the Toronto consortium (now comprised of about 25 agencies, excluding City Divisions). The City of Toronto represents the Toronto Consortium by acting as representative in matters of national scope with CCSD (e.g. data content, contract development, and pan-Canadian reporting/analysis of the data).
Locally, the City of Toronto acts as the central contact to notify local members of new data releases, updates/changes to data, and chairs the consortium meetings. The City will draft a "Terms of Reference" that provides guidelines as to how the Toronto consortium will work together on analysis and reporting. It is not the intent of the CSDS to formally produce reports authored by the entire consortium, but rather to meet to foster collaboration and the sharing of ideas. Data will be available to the members through a secure, separate website.
The Social Development Finance & Administration Division will be the lead to coordinate the payments, conduct meetings and provide the conduit for consortium members to CCSD contacts in Ottawa.
CSDS Lead Contact:
Social Development Finance & Administration Division
Social Policy Analysis & Research Section
1 While the initiative has been in place since the 2001 Census, the City at that time did not form a local consortium and only shared the data at that time with internal City Divisions. back
2 With the Social Development Finance & Administration Division as lead Division. back