More on the Canadian Census Disaster

Census decision a slow-motion train wreck
Stephen Gordon | The Globe and Mail
July 13, 2011

The census story is a train wreck in slow motion; the latest car to pile on the flaming ruins is the recent report that Statistics Canada has resigned itself to accepting incomplete responses to the National Household Survey (NHS).

The following publication is referenced in the Globe and Mail (July 13) article.
The Importance of the Long Form Census to Canada
David A. Green and Kevin Milligan | Canadian Public Policy, Volume 36, No 3
September 2010

All voluntary Statistics Canada surveys come with a set of weights of this type that researchers need to use to obtain accurate statistics. But constructing those weights requires having a “true” population benchmark, and the census is that benchmark. Thus, without the census, both the stratification and weighting stages of all other surveys would be affected.

Statscan settles for incomplete long-form surveys in 2011 census
Jennifer Ditchburn | The Globe and Mail
July 6, 2011

“On the [short] census, we will follow up since the census is mandatory, so if we don’t have a minimum amount of information or there are inconsistencies, it is possible that we’ll call people to clarify the information that was provided,” said Marc Hamel, director general of the census management office.

“We don’t do that on the National Household Survey. We make the assumption … if they have omitted to complete one question or a section, we go on the assumption knowing that it’s a voluntary survey that they’ve omitted to complete that on purpose.”

Is census data usable? ‘Our thinking has evolved.’
Steven Chase and Tavia Grant | The Globe and Mail
February 14, 2011

Wayne Smith, who replaced Munir Sheikh as Canada’s chief statistician during the census controversy, gives an interview in his Ottawa office on Feb. 11, 2011. Snippets from the interview.

I guess the answer is it depends.

We’ve never done a survey on this scale, on a voluntary basis before.

So we’re in unexplored territory.

What happens is going to depend …

The only difference that’s different in 2011 for the National Household Survey is that the survey is voluntary and the sample is bigger.

Chief statistician asked to rethink census for 2016
Steven Chase and Tavia Grant | The Globe and Mail
February 11, 2011

The Harper government, which last year scrapped the mandatory long-form census on the grounds it was wrong to coerce Canadians into answering intrusive questions, has asked Statistics Canada to rethink the way it collects population data.

Chances are, however, he may be overseeing even bigger changes at Statistics Canada – not for the 2011 census, already under way – but for the next one, in 2016.

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