Mr. Cross has plenty of praise for Statscan – it is managing pending budget cuts “efficiently yet humanely” and error rates have gone down in recent years. But “a lot of good can be offset if you get one big thing wrong – and the big thing in this instance is census and NHS [national household survey],” he said.
Survey response rates are his chief concern – the 69.3-per-cent response rate from the household survey is based on distribution to a third of households, meaning it’s actually based on answers from a fifth of the population. And it’s still unclear, he said, which segments of the population are missing from the sample. “The focus on response rates ignores questions about the quality and distribution of the responses, but discussion of the latter issues is limited by management’s insistence on being ‘on-message’ all the time about  census and NHS being a success.”