Thursday, September 09, 2010

Still making no census

More for the census file today. The Globe obtains an internal government study demonstrating to the government that its voluntary census plan was flawed. Yet as we know, the government went ahead anyway with the axing of the long form census and has proceeded along in its infinite wisdom with that voluntary survey plan, which will cost more. This is just not the stuff of good governance, this study should have given the government pause with its census axing plan:
A study conducted by Statistics Canada weeks before Ottawa revealed its plan to scrap the mandatory long-form census found that significant errors can creep into survey results gathered on a voluntary basis.
...
A June, 2010, internal study obtained by The Globe and Mail under the access-to-information law offers an inside look at how new census-taking rules could skew data in a range of areas from housing to demographics.

Statistics experts warn its findings demonstrate how minorities and groups such as renters could be measurably underrepresented or miscounted in the coming 2011 census.
More on the minority underrepresentation aspect of the report:
In another example from the report, the real 2006 long-form census found that visible minorities as a share of the population increased by 2.77 percentage points between 2006 and 2001. The simulated voluntary approach would have reported an increase of only 0.74 percentage points.

Mr. McKinnon said this second example also demonstrates how a voluntary approach in 2006 could have miscounted visible minorities by hundreds of thousands.
There's a caution that this study is theoretical, etc. But it's been made clear by statisticians from the beginning of the national census discussion on the new voluntary nature of the process that voluntary surveys won't produce the accuracy obtained in the mandatory long form census process. So this study likely does convey what we're going to see, less reliable data. Notably, the Globe had outside advisers review Stats Canada's study and they don't seem to have disagreed with the findings.

Some of the consequences from the renters and minority issues uncovered in the study? We'd likely see insufficient rental housing being built due to an underrepresentation of renters. Think about the increased costs for municipalities if those renters can't find housing. Looks like they're going to be in the dark, planning-wise. There's also a message that the government of Canada doesn't seem to care enough to ensure minority groups are counted fully, that it's prepared to accept sloppy numbers there. Any government services would be affected too.

To have such information in their hands, yet ignore it and proceed with a more expensive route that is less reliable...it's more fuel for the wasteful government motif.