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About the virtual Research Data Centre (vRDC)

What is it?

The Canadian Research Data Centre Network (CRDCN) and Statistics Canada have been working with our university partners across the Network and at our host institution McMaster University to build the virtual Research Data Centre (vRDC) – a new, networked platform that will provide access to Statistics Canada microdata and other linked data to researchers across Canada. 

The virtual platform modernizes the IT infrastructure that supports 2,200+ CRDCN researchers across the country, through an overhaul of storage, computing and networking capacities. This enhancement will optimize technical efficiencies across the network and provide improved computing capabilities to facilitate analysis and manipulation of large datasets. Importantly, it will also for the first time provide remote access for Research Data Centre (RDC) researchers to approximately 80% of microdata sets from authorized workspaces (e.g. office or home). The advent of the vRDC is meant to free up space in the existing physical Research Data Centres (RDCs) for those who need it most and enable enhanced or more flexible hours at the RDCs. The vRDC platform is scheduled for completion in mid 2024, with a staged rollout to partner RDCs planned to start shortly thereafter. 

Accessing the microdata through CRDCN

Statistics Canada data offerings are collected by survey, census or through an administrative database and continue to grow, thanks in part to a strong partnership with CRDCN and collaborating institutions that can make this rich data more accessible for research. Currently there are over 200 datasets available for researcher access through the RDCs. 

Access to Statistics Canada confidential microdata is restricted to researchers and research projects that have submitted proposals to Statistics Canada through a collaborating institution and been approved. This process has been in place throughout the life of the RDCs to ensure the confidentiality and security of the confidential microdata. All researchers who access Statistics Canada confidential data become deemed employees of Statistics Canada.

Accessing the “v” in the vRDC

Researchers with projects eligible for virtual access will be able to access their project through their own computers using a secure authentication process.  

However, researchers accessing highly sensitive data as part of their microdata research project will continue to do so through a physical RDC. Currently 20% of the data holdings are considered highly sensitive data, by Statistics Canada. Data is classified a highly sensitive based on its disclosure risk and the sensitivity of the content of the data file.  

When can you start?

Please visit this page regularly and look for announcements on the rollout to your institution.

Not affiliated with an institution? Please visit our “Find an RDC” page for a list of access partners. 

Once your institution is ready for the vRDC roll-out, you will be contacted by Statistics Canada to review project eligibility and/or initiate next steps for virtual access.   New microdata research projects that are submitted after the vRDC launch through Statistics Canada’s Microdata Access Portal, will be automatically assessed for eligibility for remote access or RDC in-person access. 

What do you do in the meantime?

If you are a current researcher that depends on RDC data to make evidence-based decisions, you can continue to work with RDC data throughout the vRDC rollout process. Both the CRDCN and local RDCs will announce planned rollout dates at specific RDCs to ensure researchers are aware and informed. 

RDCs continue to be open and operational for business as usual. Please continue to submit new proposals through the Statistics Canada Microdata Access Portal (MAP). 

For general inquiries, please contact