Margin of error -

Margin of error


Canada Says 97% of Government Stimulus Is Committed –

40 per cent of stimulus projects started – Globe and Mail

No steam in stimulus: only 7 per cent of infrastructure projects begun across country – Chronicle-Herald

Stimulus progress hard to pin down – Ottawa Citizen

More estimates — from the Citizen/Chronicle-Herald story:

66%: “Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is expected to announce in Winnipeg today that 8,000 of a planned 12,000 stimulus projects are under way.'”

75%: “According to the information provided the committee and obtained by the Citizen and the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, about 75 per cent of the projects have start dates that have already passed, but it is unknown how many of these building, water, sewer and road works have broken ground.”

12%: “Liberal infrastructure critic Gerard Kennedy said Tuesday that a Liberal analysis in September — based on phone calls to 1,000 projects — showed about 12 per cent had started.”

From Bloomberg:

70%: “About 70 percent of fiscal stimulus package ‘is flowing in the economy,’ the report said.”


Margin of error

  1. It's a makework program for statisticians.

  2. Lies, damned lies and ….

    Clearly, what 'under way' means is important. Does 'under way' mean bureaucrats at three levels of government are talking and planning or does it mean shovels in the ground.

  3. If only we had some kind of independent officer of parliament who could sort through all this data on behalf of Canadians and produce reports that were publically available. And if only this person had a budget and staff.

  4. "12%: “Liberal infrastructure critic Gerard Kennedy said Tuesday that a Liberal analysis in September — based on phone calls to 1,000 projects — showed about 12 per cent had started."

    Kennedy kōan:

    If no one hears the phone ring at the construction site, does it make any sound?

    • If no one finds the construction site, does it have a phone?

  5. I am learning a whole new lenguage here…lol!

  6. GK's numbers are irrelevant because they are old.

    I'm most interested in knowing of the $X billion in stimulus, $Y billion is no longer in the hands of any level of government.

    Everything else is irrelevant.

  7. We should see if we can get the Tories to publicly commit to creating such an officer, maybe even make it an explicit election promise.

  8. If there is someone to call, that means the project has started.


    By that logic (since someone had to have been there to submit the request for funding in the first place) all of the projects had started before the funding was even secured!

    Oh, I get it! S_C_F has discovered a way to plausibly argue that 100% of the project have already started. After all, if there's someone in the office (and there is, since someone asked for the money) then, ipso facto, the project has already begun!

  9. I can see clearly what the problem here is, and why no one can figure it out. The government “reforms” of the 1960s and 70s ruined the education of a generation of children.

  10. Is it even possible to properly account for money that is being shoveled out the door in such a hurry?

  11. "Committed" means the funds have been allocated to a project, although the project may not have begun.
    "Started" and "begun" can mean "started organizing" or they can mean "started actual construction".

    Thus we see that all the above statements can be reconciled.

  12. It would be nice if the media were capable and interested in reporting facts, rather than twisting them. Then they could explain how the different interpretations of the same data lead to different numbers, while still respecting the facts.

    They could even ask for confirmation about exactly what the numbers refer to, rather than trying to claim that a number must mean exactly whatever they (the media) feel like on any given day.

    Shame on the media for failing so terribly to present an honest set of facts.

  13. Nothing happens in a hurry in government. Except maybe sign-posting and the printing of giant novelty cheques.

  14. My point is the same as Andrew. It's easy to argue whatever you want if you don't explicitly specify what "started" means. All this is a waste of time.

  15. based on phone calls to 1,000 projects — showed about 12 per cent had started

    If there is someone to call, that means the project has started.

  16. If the total "population" of projects is 12,000 (as we are to believe from Flaherty's statement) and GK's impromptu survey took 1,000 measurements, then his 12% figure should be accurate to within plus or minus 3.0 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

    This assumes GK's team of callers took a random sample.

  17. Shame on the gov't for not providing to the PUBLIC access to the facts. But no doubt it would be heavily redacted, and should someone find out that there's more stimulus in partisan ridings, Harper would jump on his swiftboat and head to Macao… where he'd stand in front of some publicly financed microphones and say the leader of the opposition is just visiting.

  18. This is painful minutia. What about asking whether Canada needs more stimulus or less? That would be a lot more useful than multiple stories about accounting trivia, where measuring different programs against different standards produces different numbers.

  19. $40 billion in stimulus announcements sure seemed to happen in a hurry. That's what I find worrisome.

  20. There is public access to the facts – see… and the accompanying map they produced.

    It's nice because it lets you figure out that the apparent Conservative-bias the media complained about is really just a long lag in announcing projects in Quebec. Take out Quebec, and you find the Tories got about 60% of funding and hold about 60% of the tidings. The Halifax Chronicle numbers confirm this (although the journalists, for whatever reason, fail to mention it).

  21. A capital suggestion. I bet you they'd go for it. They're all about accountability after all.

  22. Correction: All this is A WASTE OF MONEY. Cyclical economies have, get this, cycles. Let the recession clean out the debris, and move on. Whoops, no, we just paid a fortune to sweep the debris along ten to twenty years hence.

  23. We need less. There, that question is answered. Now on to the painful minutia.

    • Compelling analysis, still, I feel I'd like to hear some numbers from an economist or two.

  24. Yes, I agree. If fewer projects have been started, then perhaps more of this money can be recovered.

  25. Just one economist please. Any more than one and it gets confusing. It's the silly thinking of economists that brought us the whole concept of "stimulus" in the first place (and thus, massive government debt). I'd rather we not screwed anything else up like that.