Here’s why Statistics Canada’s in so much trouble

It’s easy to forget just how deep the job cuts at Statistics Canada have been

Census NHS 20130502
That Statistics Canada is in chaos is no secret. Incidents of poor or incomplete data have been highlighted with increasing and disturbing regularity. The barren wasteland of Canadian statistics was already a concern before Auditor-General Michael Ferguson warned the government has serious gaps in its numbers around job vacancies. Earlier this month the agency’s director of labour statistics said any new survey on vacancies would cost “well over” $5 million and budget cuts make that impossible.

So yeah, StatsCan’s a mess. But it’s still easy to forget just how deep the job cuts at the agency have been. Today StatsCan released figures about Ottawa’s spending on science and technology, and buried in the tables was a breakdown of federal workers engaged in science and technology by department and agency, including StatsCan.

One caveat to the above chart is that 2006 was a census year, and Statistics Canada employment always swells with temporary enumerators. But even with bumps in 2006 and the 2011 census, the number of science and technology workers at the agency has been on a steadily downward trend.  

 

With Ottawa planning to eliminate 9,000 more jobs over the next three years, Canada’s statistical agency may not be clear of its troubles yet.

 

 




Browse

Here’s why Statistics Canada’s in so much trouble

  1. When there are known unknowns known, it’s so much easier to
    just make stuff up. Or have yer tame “think tanks” do it for you.

  2. Why look at science and technology employment specifically and not overall employment? Are statisticians included in the “Science and Tech” group, or are they in another group all together? I also notice that census year blips remain at equal highs. So it appears that census years employment at Stats-Can has remained the same, and not dropped. It’s only in non-census years that we’re seeing a decline.

    Overall, this data is pretty meaningless without any context.

  3. The problem with Statistics Canada is that it has basically become a “History” Department.

    We live in a world of Big Data, and Big Data Crunching, where relevant information and data has to be produced in near real-time to be relevant, or the government will be way behind private industry.

    Obama used Big Data to win the US Presidency twice, and with the use of Big Data, he changed the statistics, i.e. he changed the composition of the electorate that showed up at the polls and voted.

    The Romney campaign thought 2008 was a fluke, that the deviations Obama achieved based on historical voting patterns and trends could not be repeated. That is why they thought they would win even as the votes were being counted.

    But the Obama campaign was able to statistically change the world again using Big Data.

    Basically, much of statistics collection in government and academia is on its way to becoming the study of history. Governments and academia are going to have to use Big Data, like industry is using big data or be constantly out of date and behind.

    • Is this why Harper hired consultants to look at job postings on Kijiji?

      Private industry makes heavy use of high quality data provided by censuses to calibrate their own statistical work to account for sample bias.

Sign in to comment.