Canadian research study hits snag over lousy population data – The Globe and Mail

Good piece on some of the limitations of the National Household Survey, particularly at the Census Tract level.

Nice comment on the irony between more corporate big data, with all the related privacy implications, and less effective government big data (although linking the NHS to CRA income information will improve quality and is appropriate use of big data):

The project, produced with the financial backing of the Maytree Foundation, used 2010 to 2013 data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, a voluntary annual survey with a sample size of 65,000. The project didn’t use the last voluntary national household survey due to difficulties in comparability and in assessing data quality for smaller communities.

The researchers want to see the mandatory long-form census not only reinstated, but expanded to include more questions on wealth and health. They recommend more sharing of information between federal government departments and more tools, such as online searchable databases, to make data more accessible and useable.

The irony is that the lack of data on the public side comes as Big Data is giving private firms unprecedented access to rich details about customers’ lives.

“The trend in the private sector, for companies like Google and Uber, they’re making brilliant decisions, strategically, because they’re collecting more and more information, mining it and refining their services and products,” said Mr. Johal.

“And what we’re seeing in Canada is governments stepping away actively from getting that information – so that makes it really hard for us to make those smart decisions and invest in our future.”

Canadian research study hits snag over lousy population data – 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 Canadian research study hits snag over lousy population data – The Globe and Mail

  1. gjreid says:

    I’m afraid that, for Mr. Harper, the public’s ignorance is bliss. His project is to make, in so far as possible, progressive activist government impossible, and to do that one strategy is to make it as difficult as possible for the public, and for policy-makers, to obtain accurate information. Truth is the enemy of bullshit. Without accurate information ideology, partisanship, ‘newspeak’, and lies can reign supreme. It is a very clever way of undermining the institutions of Parliamentary democracy. But this little gambit – undermining the gathering of statistical information – is of course only one small part of a much broader effort to discredit government in general and the ability of Canadians to use government, when they wish to, as they see fit to better their lives. Omnibus bills, the neutering of watchdogs, changes in electoral finance, the muzzling of scientists, the removal of finance from ‘controversial’ research, the muzzling of civil servants, attacks on the judiciary, the use of attack ads, the almost certain use of tax authorities to silence criticism, the massive use of government funds for partisan propaganda, the naming of senators to be mere shills for the Prime Minister, the bland denial of all responsibility for anything (the buck never stops with Harper, rather people get ‘thrown under the bus’) all of this constitutes a creepy and creeping destruction of ‘good governance’ and civil discourse and of democracy. In his bland creepy hypocritical way, Harper is Putin writ small, very small.

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