With the release of November 2013 data, Statistics Canada converted the Industrial Product Price Index (IPPI) and the Raw Materials Price Index (RMPI) series to 2010=100, with 2010 as the base year. These indexes have also been updated using a weighting pattern based on the 2010 production values of Canadian manufacturers.
At the same time, the classification system was converted to the North American Product Classification System (NAPCS) developed by Canada, the United States and Mexico.
What this self-congratulatory blurb doesn't mention is that Statistics Canada has replaced an IPPI that went back to 1956 with one that goes back to 2010. I can't think of any interesting question that can be answered with a price index that starts in 2010.
As of the September 27 release, data in CANSIM tables 281-0023 to 281-0046 cover the period 2001 to present. At the same time, new tables were created for the time series prior to 2001.
Two new tables were created with data starting in 2001: Table 281-0048 (formerly 281-0031 and 281-0034) and Table 281-0063 (formerly 281-0025 and 281-0028). For a concordance vector table, or for more information on these changes, contact Labour Statistics Division Client services.
As of this release, CANSIM tables 281-0050 and 281-0051 on payroll employment from 1991 to 2000 are available (formerly part of tables 281-0023 and 281-0024).
I can't make head nor tail of this. For what appears to be no reason whatsover, StatsCan has taken a data table that went back to 1991 and split it up into two tables that span 1991-2001 and 2001-present. Even worse, the older data has been tossed into the vast and rapidly-expanding swamp of terminated data tables that threatens to swallow the entire Cansim site. A few months ago, someone looking for SEPH wage data would get the whole series. Now, you'll get data going back to 2001 and have to already know (StatsCan won't tell you) that there are older data hidden behind the "Beware of the Leopard" sign.
More examples off the top of my head:
- The series V1996473 (total salaries and wages paid) only goes back to 1997. But it turns out that this is a continuation of series V500265, which runs from 1961-1996. If you stack the two together, you get one long series. StatsCan knows this (they're the ones who told me over the phone), but they always seem surprised to learn that there are people out there who also might want to know how to piece together longer series from the piecemeal snippets in Cansim.
- The national accounts data used to go back to 1961. They stopped those series in mid-2012 and replaced them with data that go back to 1981. I think they're supposed to push back the new data back to 1961 eventually, but it's already been 18 months already. Why wouldn't they wait until they had re-done the entire series and *then* make the switch?
- Same thing for the data on government revenues and expenditures: only 2 tables in this list are being maintained, and you can't even break it out by province. The last year for which you can is 2009. Again, StatsCan is supposed to be working on yet another shiny new data revision and we're all supposed to be very happy with the result. But in the meantime, we might as well pretend that the world ended in 2009 as far as public finances are concerned.
- Then there are the data that StatsCan has and is willing to give out if asked, but only if you happen to know that the data are there in the first place - and they won't tell you what there is. Phil Cross is probably the only person in the world who could have pieced together this business cycle chronology, because as a former StatsCan analyst, he knew that StatsCan had data (in fragments, of course - it wouldn't do for StatsCan to maintain a long series) for things like unemployment rates going back several decades before the LFS.
I can do this all day.
Statistics Canada must be the only statistical agency in the world where the average length of a data series gets shorter with the passage of time. Its habit of killing off time series, replacing them with new, 'improved' definitions and not revising the old numbers is a continual source of frustration to Canadian macroeconomists.
Update: I'm going to keep track of these episodes as I come across them