Statistics Canada to temporarily delay release of economic data from Friday

Thu Feb 4, 2016 5:51pm EST
 
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA Feb 4 (Reuters) - Statistics Canada said on Thursday it planned to temporarily delay the publication of economic data from media lock-ups because of recent delays in updating the federal agency's website.

Statscan, which releases data precisely at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT), said starting Friday Feb. 5, for the time being it would not open communications channels from the media lock-up until the daily release had been published on the website.

Statscan announced similar plans in 2012 but backed down after Reuters and other news organizations who report on the data to financial clients complained it would be disruptive.

Many banks and trading organizations use sophisticated programs that can execute trades in less than a second after data are released.

Gabrielle Beaudoin, director general of the communications division at Statscan, said the agency had a duty to publish information for all users at the same time. In recent weeks, the release had hit the website a few seconds late, she said.

"Our mandate is not to support the financial markets. Our mandate is to produce quality information for Canadians ... we have to be equitable to everyone in Canada," she said in a phone interview.

Beaudoin said that once the technical problems had been solved, Statscan would resume the practice of releasing information from the media lock-up at 8:30 am.

All communications are turned off in the lock-ups, where reporters are given the information an hour ahead of time so they can prepare their reports. A Statscan official opens the communications lines at the end of the lock-up.

Statscan is due to release employment and trade data on Friday. (Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)