Bad data means $$$ for education, day care, transportation, and health care sent to wrong places

Ted Hsu
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I recently reached out to the City Manager’s Office at the City of Toronto to try to get a better understanding of how they use census data. Toronto is the most populous city in the country, and my hope was that the city would be able to give me insight into the importance of the census for municipalities.

I will be publishing some of the ways that the City of Toronto uses census data leading up to the second hour of debate for my private member’s bill, Bill C-626, which seeks to reinstate the mandatory long-form census. If you would like to share your experience with using census data, please email me at [email protected].

Toronto

The City of Toronto relies upon the data generated by Statistics Canada as part of the core data sets that guide the City’s program planning for a variety of services and supports, in order to maximize its resource allocations to meet the changing needs of Torontonians. One of the main impacts of the shift to the NHS is the ability to examine trends over time. A change in statistical collection methodology precludes direct statistical comparison of data gathered before and after the change. Previously, Statistics Canada’s adherence to the same statistical collection methodology for 35 years has allowed for accurate data comparison and invaluable trend analysis.

While some areas in the City continue to use and report on NHS data, release of such data comes with cautionary notations. The City of Toronto is continuing in its exploration on the use of NHS data, while using alternative sources where necessary and available.

Transfer Funding from Other Orders of Government

Municipalities all over the country receive a range of transfer funding from different orders of government. For example, the federal government transfers money to municipalities through the Building Canada Fund and the Gas Tax Fund, and the province of Ontario transfers money to Ontario municipalities through the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund.

Many of the City of Toronto’s cost-shared programs and transfer-fund supported projects are based on data that is, in part, derived from an accurate and complete enumeration of Toronto residents. Accurate statistics are important to determine the needs of communities and directly affect financial contributions to education, day care, transportation, health care and other services.

The shift to a voluntary census data collection model presents challenges for the City of Toronto’s place-based service delivery planning and community investment mechanisms across a range of services areas.