Business

Statistics Canada to investigate after official job numbers leaked early

Statistics Canada has launched an investigation after a media outlet reported its latest job-loss figures more than a half hour before the data was officially released.

Bloomberg reported a loss of 2 million jobs, citing person familiar with the data

Statistics Canada reported at 8:30 a.m. ET Friday that the economy lost almost two million jobs, but that number was leaked early. The federal agency is now investigating the leak. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Statistics Canada has launched an investigation after a media outlet reported its latest job-loss figures more than a half hour before the data was officially released.

A headline published by Bloomberg correctly reported that job losses would be about two million — roughly half the market's expectation — citing a person familiar with the data.

"We are conducting an investigation related to this matter and will take appropriate measures," Peter Frayne, a spokesperson for Statistics Canada, told CBC News.

The official data is released by Statistics Canada at 8:30 a.m. ET, but according to a tweet by Bloomberg Canada and the linked article's timestamp, the report was published before 8 a.m. ET.

Bloomberg's tweet attributed the data to a "person familiar" with the forthcoming numbers, which implies they were intentionally given to the financial news agency by someone, as opposed to obtained by an accidental early release through some sort of technical error.

The release appeared to trigger a move in the Canadian dollar, as traders tried to figure out if the data was accurate.

In the minutes following the Bloomberg headline, the Canadian dollar appreciated 15 basis points against the U.S. dollar before reversing.

'You worry about the integrity of the markets'

Scotiabank economist Derek Holt says the leak may have created the opportunity for some people to profit off the early knowledge.

"There were a lot of people in the markets that simply weren't expecting it … so some people would've pounced upon it earlier than others," said Holt.

Holt says repeated leaks like this could tarnish the reputation of Canadian markets.

"They're rare, but when they happen, you worry about the integrity of the markets," said Holt.

The director of communications for the office of the federal finance minister said "leaks of this nature are unacceptable."

"We take this very seriously and the government will put the necessary processes in place to ensure this does not happen again," said Pierre-Olivier Herbert.

About the Author

Jacqueline Hansen

Senior Business Reporter

Jacqueline Hansen is a senior business reporter for CBC News. Based in Toronto, she's been covering business and other news beats since 2010.

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