Canadian government web sites

Canadian government web sites

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Three sites on the World Wide Web:

- the Statistics Canada web site, and

- the CANSIM web site

for Canadian data, and

- the Economic Report of the President web site,

for data pertaining to other countries.

The most recent observations on many major series are available on Statistics Canada's web-site:

Click on Canadian Statistics, and then on The Economy, to access the data that relate to macroeconomic issues. Also available are full background details of the labor force survey and the calculation of the CPI. While convenient, this free-access site provides only the most recent observations on each statistic.

For more data on Canadian macroeconomics, visit the Canadian Socio-economic and Information and Management Database (CANSIM) at:

Click on Search and Retrieve CANSIM, and then on Retrieve a Single CANSIM series by Label. The first item that you are asked for is the CANSIM label for the series that you want. The reference numbers for all CANSIM series included in the text's figures and tables are below. Consider the unemployment rate as an example. Its series label is CANSIM number D984954. Enter this label and click on Retrieve. If you do not want separate observations for each month, select annual for frequency, and average for conversion method. The two options that are most convenient for output format are Plain and Spreadsheet. Plain allows you to read the series and a detailed description. Spreadsheet allows you to save the series, so that you can open it as a spreadsheet file for further analysis or graphing. If you opt for Spreadsheet, save the series as a text file. When opening the text file in your spreadsheet, choose fixed width (not delimited) for the original data type, and choose general for the column data format. Once you have the series in your spreadsheet, you can analyze it, perhaps by graphing it along with other series.

A good source of international data is the Appendix of an American publication - the latest issue of the Economic Report of the President. This document is available on the internet:

CANSIM Series Numbers

average weekly earnings (industrial aggregate)
capital consumption allowances
consumer price index
corporate profits before tax
exchange rate
foreign debt service payments (as a proportion of net national income)

GDP (deflator)
GDP (real)
GDP (nominal)
interest and investment income
interest rates (Canadian)

interest rate (US)
investment (main components)

labour income
money supply (M1)
saving rate
TSE index
unemployment rate


Analysis and Commentary - Links on the Web  

The list of web-site links below includes those of the Federal Department of Finance, the Bank of Canada, the Canadian Association of Business Economists, the Canadian policy "think tanks," the Economist magazine, and international organizations.
The Federal Department of Finance site has a "Frequently Asked Questions" section (covering the department's views on macroeconomics and numerous topical items such as why Canada's unemployment rate is so much higher than the US rate). Also, the department posts the annual Budget documents (each Spring) and the annual Fiscal Update (each Fall). The summary charts on macro developments - comparing Canada to other countries on such matters as taxes and debt are easy to read and informative. Click on hotlinks to gain access to all provincial ministries of finance.
The Bank of Canada site has useful "Backgrounders;" click on publications/research, then on backgrounders, for very helpful one-page items on central topics. Also available is the semi-annual Monetary Policy Report, which gives the Bank's explanations of recent changes in interest rates and exchange rates. For more frequent commentaries, read the speeches by the Governor of the Bank of Canada which explain how the Bank is implementing its inflation-target policy, and why it has reacted as it has to recent developments in financial markets. This site is a good source of historical information on the financial sector.

Industry Canada's site contains the Micro Monitor, which focuses on free trade and productivity. The Spring 1999 issue of the Micro Monitor contains "A Report Card on Canada's Trade and Investment Record." Other issues contain articles on the productivity growth slowdown and the Canada-US productivity gap.
The Canadian Association of Business Economists site gives links to many interesting sources of information, including the macroeconomic analyses provided by the economics departments of Canada's major chartered banks, and Bill Goffe's general gateway site for economic issues. The association's journal, Canadian Business Economics, contains many short articles - recently on questions such as should Canadians adopt the US dollar as our currency, and is there still scope for independent policy in the modern global economy.
The web site of the Toronto-based "think tank" named after Canada's influential cabinet minister who oversaw the country's transformation to a modern industrial society. There are numerous excellent "commentaries" and "backgrounders" on economic policy issues. In particular, see the 1999 Benefactor's Lecture by Professor Pierre Fortin, "The Canadian Standard of Living: Is There a Way Up?" and Commentaries 136 and 143 (published in 2000) on how to lower taxes and improve social policy at the same time (No. 136 by Finn Poschmann and John Richards) and how to decide government spending priorities in a trimmed-down age (No. 143 by John Richards).
The Institute for Research on Public Policy publishes a journal (available on the web) entitled Policy Options. This journal contains many informative short articles; for example, the September 1997 contains "Is Economics Relevant?" and an entire issue in 1999 is devoted to "Free Trade - 10 Years Later." The January 1998 issue has a set of articles on the fiscal dividend, and the December 1998 issue discusses which taxes to cut (as falling debt service costs permit new government initiatives).
The Centre for the Study of Living Standards focuses on productivity growth issues.
The Fraser Institute in Vancouver publishes numerous commentaries and studies that emphasize the advantages of free markets and smaller government.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is a group which advocates a larger role for government and more income equality. Each year the Centre posts its Alternative Budget on the web.
The Caledon Institute in Ottawa focuses on social policy. Students in macroeconomics will be interested in their studies on unemployment, income inequality and poverty.
The National Council of Welfare in Ottawa issues many studies which focus on the plight of those on low incomes or government support.
The John Deutsch Institute at Queen's has a conference each spring which evaluates the federal government budget.
The Economist magazine's web site. World news interpreted from an economist's perspective; click on the library of best articles.
The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development has studies and commentaries on all macroeconomic issues. Click on free documents, then policy briefs, for studies on such things as the macroeconomic aspects of an aging society. See also the individual country reports.
The International Monetary Fund has some very readable articles (on such issues as fixed vs. flexible exchange rates, globalization and income inequality) in the "Economic Issues" section of the "Publications" part of their web site.
The Brookings Institution in Washington has numerous reports of interest to students of macroeconomics. Click on policy briefs for short essays on central topics such as reforming the international financial system and pursuing prosperity through tax reform.


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