Let StatsCan do its job!

Ted Hsu
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It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Conservative government’s decision to do away with the long-form census is significantly affecting our ability to get the data we need. This data helps us intelligently plan our city strategies, our education strategies, our health care strategies, and more. But, as journalist Carol Goar points out, the Auditor General’s recent report actually highlights that the Conservative government has been actively dismantling StatsCan, and this will affect Canada in a range of ways over the long term.




Goar’s article highlights three of the most troubling findings of the Auditor General’s report. First, the response rate has dropped from 94% with the long-form census in 2006 to 69% with the National Household Survey in 2011.


What’s more, without the long-form census, StatsCan has unreliable data about employment and job vacancies. At a time when Canadians are facing a particularly tough job market, the government needs to ensure that we have the best data available so that we can make decisions that will serve us well over the long term.


The decline of responses and the implications for data collection are serious issues, but what is even more important is the idea that “StatsCan is shrinking from a public information agency into an in-house research bureau for the government.” It is deeply concerning that the Conservative government has cut StatsCan’s budget and placed so many financial and operational constraints that the agency has trouble fulfilling its mandate.


As Goar notes, StatsCan was once home to “globally admired statisticians,” and I know we can restore StatsCan’s reputation, both here in Canada and internationally. This is one of the reasons that I have tabled my private member’s bill, Bill C-562, which expands the authority and political independence of the Chief Statistician, so that we can have the data required to develop the evidence-based policies our country needs.