COVID-19 updates from the CRDCN and local RDCs in response to the coronavirus
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COVID-19 Updates

Coronavirus Updates

RDCs have reopened as local health units and host universities permit. A list of which RDCs are open or scheduled for reopening is posted on this page. A reopening protocol has been developed by StatCan in consultation with CRDCN and has been distributed to local Academic Directors.

Once your centre has been identified for reopening, you will receive an email from your Academic Director which will include the health and safety protocols pertaining to your RDC. As we welcome you back to our research spaces, we ask all RDC users to familiarize themselves with and adhere to the new protocols and posted guidelines.

Our response to COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken every precautionary measure that we can to ensure the wellbeing of researchers, staff, volunteers, partners and local communities. We care deeply about the people and communities we serve.

We acknowledge the challenge this situation has raised for our researchers, as such, we have created an issue letter available for download that you might use as needed. If you have any further questions or require further accommodations, please email us at


If you have a question that does not appear in our FAQ list, please contact us.

RDC staff are Statistics Canada employees and, as such, StatCan managers are following Treasury Board guidelines for federal public servants, which, in some communities, could require RDC staff to work from home. Senior officials at StatCan and CRDCN central staff are closely monitoring federal, provincial, and municipal government directives as well as those of partner universities as they pertain to each community in which an RDC is housed. Our top priority is to ensure the health and safety of staff, Academic Directors, researchers, and our broader communities.

Ultimately, the decision to close or reopen each RDC will be made by StatCan in consultation with CRDCN. This decision will be aligned with public health advice from all levels of government as well as the closure and opening protocols of partner universities. StatCan and CRDCN central staff are committed to providing access to RDC sites whenever we can do so safely and responsibly.

A staged approach to reopening the RDCs took place during the spring and summer of 2020 as provinces, cities and local universities eased restrictions. The vast majority of RDCs have reopened (see table above) with others in the process of reopening.

A staged approach will also be taken to close local RDCs if and when local conditions and restrictions dictate this necessity again. StatCan and CRDCN continue to monitor the situation in each part of the country so that we can be ready to transition operations as quickly and efficiently as possible if and when such closures are required to protect the health and safety of all.

StatCan has worked closely with each Academic Director to develop guidelines to assist RDC staff in the transition to providing services while COVID protocols are in place.  These guidelines take into consideration any new expectations created by the need to maintain physical distancing, among other considerations. For instance, guidance is provided regarding the number of colleagues allowed to work in the RDC at one time and/or the distance to be maintained among colleagues as they work. These guidelines are aligned with public health advice as well as the protocols of partner universities to ensure the safety of RDC staff, Academic Directors and researchers. Please contact your local RDC for the COVID-19 protocols in place on your campus.

CRDCN is working closely with StatCan to mitigate the effects of the closures on researchers by expediting efforts to offer alternate means of access to RDC data.

Real Time Remote Access 

Real Time Remote Access (RTRA) is being offered free of charge until March 31st, 2021 for anyone in the Network who requests it. The RTRA system is an online remote access facility allowing users to run SAS programs, in real-time, against microdata located in a central and secure location. A full range of descriptive statistics is available through this tool. RTRA users can calculate frequencies, means, percentiles, percent distribution, proportions, ratios, and shares.

Researchers using the RTRA system do not gain direct access to the microdata and cannot view the content of the microdata file. Instead, users submit SAS programs to extract results in the form of frequency tables. As RTRA researchers cannot view the microdata, becoming a deemed employee of Statistics Canada is not necessary. This approach allows the RTRA to service its clients rapidly. Consult the RTRA user guide for more information.

Remote vetting of projects

Researchers are being contacted by Statistics Canada to ensure that they have the most up-to-date syntax to allow active projects in the final phases of the research to be vetted by StatCan staff on the StatCan Network, should certain RDCs need to close again in light of COVID-19 restrictions. For further assistance please contact Geneviève Jourdain.

Remote access for COVID-19 related projects

StatCan staff have also been equipped to facilitate the transfer of files from CANARIE so that a limited number of researchers who are working on COVID-19 related initiatives in collaboration with various levels of government can pursue this work remotely, should certain RDCs need to close again in light of COVID-19 restrictions.

During the first round of closures, StatCan offered remote access to a limited number of CRDCN researchers who demonstrated value added research that would contribute to the immediate COVID-19 response effort. For instance, Statistics Canada facilitated remote access for CRDCN research teams in Vancouver, Montreal, London and Toronto who were working with either the Government of Canada or their provincial governments. If you have a COVID-19 related project in collaboration with a government department, please contact Leila Boussaïd.

We are very mindful of students across Canada who are finding themselves affected by university and research facility closures, which are requiring modifications to their research plans, their research timelines and to their access to research subjects and research data. These restrictions have largely been put in place by universities and their research partners to abide by public health agencies’ and governments’ directives to ensure the safety of researchers, research subjects and personnel who provide access to research facilities.

Your first step should be to check with your academic department and/or thesis advisor to determine your institution’s policies with regard to the completion of research in light of COVID-19 interruptions.

We are working closely with StatCan to help mitigate some of the effects of the RDC closures on your work, including ensuring that RDC access extensions will automatically be granted to those students who cannot access the RDC to complete their work, putting in place new protocols to vet remotely work already completed, and providing an official letter to funders or universities that explains that the research cannot currently be pursued as planned due to the closure of the local RDC. The letter can be found here.

The short answer is yes. StatCan is working to ensure that requests for access and security clearances from new applicants will continue to be processed. StatCan’s objective is to continue to process requests to the best of its current ability and to address any backlog as quickly and as efficiently as possible to ensure that CRDCN researchers are well prepared to ramp up their work without delay when their local RDC re-opens.