Statistics Canada disputes Manitoba claim it missed 18,000 people in census

by Chinta Puxley, The Canadian Press

WINNIPEG – Statistics Canada is disputing a suggestion by the Manitoba government that it missed 18,000 people in the last census — a discrepancy the province says will cost it $500 million in federal transfer payments.

Manitoba Finance Minister Jennifer Howard has said the 2011 flood, one of the largest in the province’s history, contributed to inaccurate population figures.

Since federal transfer payments are based on population, the discrepancy translates into a loss of $100 million a year, she said, and could make it impossible to fulfil the government’s promise to balance the books by 2016.

Jane Badets, a director general with Statistics Canada, said Manitoba actually had one of the highest response rates in Canada in the 2011 census. Still, the agency expects to miss a certain number of people in each census, she added.

Statistics Canada uses a complex methodology to make up for any people who might be missed — something Badets said was agreed to by all provinces including Manitoba. Using that system, the agency actually added almost 22,000 people to Manitoba’s population in 2011.

“We had a good response rate in Manitoba,” Badets said. “We do miss some. We know that. It’s no different than any other census. We use the same methods we’ve ever used.

“We worked with the provinces and territories. They understand the methods. They agreed to it. They approve it.”

Howard said she’s not interested in getting into a “methodological argument” with Statistics Canada. The province knows its population is growing at a faster rate than the agency has acknowledged, she said.

“It’s counter to what we know in terms of the number of people filing taxes in Manitoba. That’s gone up at a higher rate than StatsCan is saying the census has. There is an error here and we need it to be corrected.

“This could be that one-in-20 rogue sample that is off. Let’s redo it and see what the results are.”

Finance Department officials’ calculations of a $100-million shortfall a year are based on transfer payments for health care, social services and equalization. Manitoba is already losing $37 million in this fiscal year, Howard said.

The minister suggested it may take spending cuts in health care and education in the province to still balance the books in 2016.

“Losing $100 million because our population has been undercounted, that makes it challenging to do that without cutting spending in those areas or looking at how we balance the budget.”

Critics are questioning the government’s figures and the timing of its complaint.

Opposition Leader Brian Pallister said the 2011 census figures have been out for months, but the NDP government waited until now to raise the issue. The complaint also comes after a provincial sales tax increase which came into effect in the summer, he said.

“This is a provincial government — the only provincial government — that has a dispute over the ability of the federal government to count people. Nine others don’t,” the Conservative leader said.

“Coincidentally, this is the same provincial government that actually jacked up taxes by a record amount.”




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Statistics Canada disputes Manitoba claim it missed 18,000 people in census

  1. And they can thank Harper and his Party of Stupid for it.

    • This is about the raw population number, the collection of which by Stats Can has not changed. The Tories’ cancellation of the long-form survey has nothing to do with this particular issue.
      About that cancellation; I agree with you. “Stupid.”

      • I think most of us can read.

        • Most of us. Clearly not all, apparently.

          • True…the biggest problem is that people don’t understand what they read. They keep tripping over their hobby horses.

          • We’re getting nowhere. Lets start again. How, specifically, is Stephen Harper and his government responsible for Stats Can’s allegedly poor population count in Manitoba? What specific law or policy or order have the Tories made to cause this problem?

          • The article is quite clear….I’m not going to reprint it for partisans

          • It is not clear at all. There is no mention of the federal Tory government anywhere in the story. All there are are Stats Can officials on one side saying they made no mistakes and the Manitoba NDP Finance Minister on the other side. I made the assumption that you were commenting on the Harper Tories dumb cancellation of the long-form census. My mistake. I am no Tory, and I am no partisan, and you haven’t answered any of my questions. If you wish to, I look forward to your response.

          • It’s the whole mindset Sig…..it’s not just one thing…it’s the interconnectedness of it all.

            The census was eliminated over some fool claim that people didn’t want a bureaucrat to know how many bathrooms they had.

            And because of that….everything else on the long form was lost too. So now we don’t know about growth or problems…or anything else.

            We get a creationist for a science minister….we have actual scientists being fired….institutes/foundations/R&D depts shut down……..

            Numbers, data, science….none of it….matters.

            This wasn’t the first mistake….it won’t be the last.

            Because the Party of Stupid started the process.

          • Thank you for your reply. All of your points are certainly valid and, as a scientist myself, I agree with them all. However, this story is about raw population numbers. The Tories didn’t cancel “the census,” they cancelled the “mandatory long-form census data collection.” Every single person in Canada still has to reply to Stats Can during the census every five years (ie the “short-form” census, for lack of a better word.) This count of every single person in Canada has not been cancelled by the Tories so I don’t see where the Tories have anything to do with the conflict between Stats Can and Manitoba Finance.

            Thanks, enjoy the rest of your evening.

          • And I will repeat ‘I think most of us can read.’

            However most people can’t understand what they read, and so they fail to connect the dots.

          • She’s not mentally sound. You don’t argue with her, you insult her. It’s the only way of dealing with her. Sad but true. Don’t believe me yet? Stick around a while.

          • As though someone who can’t understand the difference between the long form census and the actual census has an opinion that matters. Mind you, I suspect yours ceased to matter sometime before the Internet was invented.

          • You just strung a bunch of unrelated points together and tried to tie them into this story. I’m reminded of Russel Crowe’s character in A Beautiful Mind, when he had all those “messages” deciphered from magazine headlines, with strings attached to pins on the wall to show how they were all connected. Are you doing a mail drop tonight by any chance?

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