The Scandinavian model

Gustave Goldmann, formerly a senior official at Statistics Canada, considers (scroll down) the periodically cited European model of data collection.

The critics often cite examples of countries that have done away with the census as evidence Canada should do the same in the name of privacy. What they fail to acknowledge is that the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands and other European states have extensive administrative data bases that contain the same information that Canada gathers in the census. These data include registration numbers that are used to create linked data bases for all individuals living in these countries. The residents (citizens and non-citizens alike) in these countries are obliged to provide this information. All interactions with the state (health, education, taxation, the justice system, migration) are recorded in these data bases. Is this less intrusive, and should it be held up as an alternative?

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.