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Census fallout

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July 28, 2010
Census collection cuts
SFU statistician Carl Schwarz says, “Making decisions with poor data is worse than making decisions with no data,” in response to the federal government’s cancellation of mandatory completion of its Census long form. Schwarz adds: “By converting the long-form census to a voluntary response survey, the quality of data used by decision makers across Canada will be seriously compromised. If you have no data and have to make a decision, then at least you need to be up front about your lack of knowledge and the basis for your decision. On the other hand, if you have poor data, you can seriously mislead people about the information you actually have and make decisions that have the aura of confidence are not warranted by the faulty information.”

Carl Schwarz, 778.782.3376, cschwarz@stat.sfu.ca, (limited availability July 29-Aug. 6, email best)

SFU economist Krishna Pendakur, who was one of the first academics to sound the alarm over Stats Canada’s move, is not surprised by Canada’s chief statistician’s resignation. “The proposed changes to the Census will substantially weaken Canada’s data resources of all types,” says Pendakur. “Further, the weakening of the long form itselfsh will make the Census a much weaker primary data source when it comes to the study of small populations in Canada, such as immigrants, ethnic and linguistic minorities, and residents of smaller cities.” http://www.sfu.ca/~pendakur/census%20revisions.pdf

Krishna Pendakur, 778.782.5501, pendakur@sfu.ca

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