Why Canada has a serious data deficit

More on the importance of good data by Barrie McKenna in the Globe’s Report on Business:

Prof. Gross [the C.D. Howe Institute researcher responsible for their study on Temporary Foreign Workers and their effect on increasing unemployment in AB and BC] acknowledged that perfect data is “very costly.”

So is bad data.

Employment Minister Jason Kenney recently imposed a moratorium on the use of temporary foreign workers in the restaurant industry, following embarrassing allegations of misuse by some McDonald’s franchise and other employers. And he has promised more reforms to come.

But who is to say that restaurants need imported foreign labour any less than hotels or coal mines, which are unaffected by the moratorium? And without better information, Mr. Kenney may compound his earlier decision to expand the program with an equally ill-considered move to shrink it.

The government’s troubles with the temporary foreign workers program is a classic case of bad data leading to dubious decision-making. Until recently, the government has relied on inflated Finance department job vacancy data, compiled in part by tracking job postings on Kijiji, a free classified-ad website. Statscan, meanwhile, was reporting that the national job vacancy rate was much smaller, and falling.

The problem goes way beyond temporary foreign workers. And it’s a data problem of the government’s own making. Ottawa has cut funds from important labour market research, slashed Statscan’s budget more savagely than many other departments, and scrapped a mandatory national census in favour of a less-accurate voluntary survey.

The Canadian government has demonstrated “a lack of commitment” to evidence-based decision-making and producing high-quality data, according to a global report on governance released last week by the Bertelsmann Foundation, a leading German think tank. The report ranked Canada in the middle of the pack and sliding on key measures of good governance compared with 40 other developed countries

One of the disadvantages of being in government for almost 10 years is that decisions which may have appeared to be cost-free can come back and haunt you.

Why Canada has a serious data deficit – The Globe and Mail.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

One Response to Why Canada has a serious data deficit

  1. Marion Vermeersch says:

    Date: Tue, 13 May 2014 11:01:44 +0000 To: vermeerschmarion@hotmail.com

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