StatsCan Study: How temporary were Canada’s temporary foreign workers?

Spoiler alert – apart from Agricultural Workers program – is that the overall trend is temporary workers staying for longer periods with most temporary workers in Canada for 10 years or more transitioning from temporary to permanent residency status:

Temporary foreign workers are admitted to Canada through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program (Government of Canada) with the objectives of addressing short-term labour shortages and advancing Canada’s broad economic and cultural interests. The number of temporary foreign workers present in Canada increased from 52,000 in 1996 to 310,000 in 2015. Given the growing presence of temporary foreign workers, their rate and length of stay in Canada are relevant to national immigration and labour market policies.

This Statistics Canada study documents the length of time that temporary foreign workers remain in Canada and the extent to which longer durations of stays are the result of extended use of temporary residence permits or transitions to permanent resident status.

In the study, temporary foreign workers are defined as individuals who were aged 18 to 64 at the time of their arrival in Canada, who received a work permit between 1990 and 2009, and whose first admission to Canada was primarily for work purposes. These individuals were followed for at least five years, and for up to 15 years, after their first admission to Canada. The study is based on the Temporary Residents File.

Durations of stay among temporary foreign workers became longer through the 2000s. Of the 264,000 temporary foreign workers first admitted to Canada from 1995 to 1999, 13% (or 35,000) were still in Canada five years after their initial arrival. This was the case for 37% (or 187,000) of the approximately 500,000 temporary foreign workers first admitted to Canada from 2005 to 2009. The same pattern was evident 10 years after arrival among earlier cohorts. Specifically, 11% of temporary foreign workers first admitted to Canada from 1995 to 1999 and 18% of those first admitted from 2000 to 2004 were still in Canada 10 years after their initial arrival in Canada.

Almost 90% of temporary foreign workers who were still in Canada after 10 years had obtained permanent resident status, having made the transition from temporary foreign worker to landed immigrant. This was the case among temporary foreign workers in virtually all ongoing programs, with the exception of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program. Temporary foreign workers in this program were unique in that almost one-quarter continued to receive work permits for seasonal employment 10 years after their initial arrival in Canada. Temporary foreign worker programs, such as the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, have been associated with different options for transitioning to permanent residence status.

via The Daily — Study: How temporary were Canada’s temporary foreign workers?

StatsCan Study: The exit and survival patterns of immigrant entrepreneurs

Yet another interesting study by StatsCan:

In most developed countries, self-employment is more prevalent among immigrants than among native-born individuals. However, much less is known about the survival and longevity of immigrant-owned firms. A small body of international research suggests that immigrant-owned businesses have shorter durations of survival than businesses owned by the native born. There has been little evidence on whether or not this is the case in Canada. Information on business survival is relevant to business development policies and the measurement of the economic impacts of immigration.

A new Statistics Canada study examines the duration of business ownership among immigrant and Canadian-born individuals. The study finds that, on average, there was little difference in the duration of ownership between immigrant and Canadian-born owners of private incorporated companies.

The study uses data from the Canadian Employer-Employee Dynamic Database, including individual and corporate tax returns and immigrant landing files, and focuses on ownership of private incorporated companies that started between 2003 and 2009. Ownership was tracked for up to seven years after start-up. The analysis builds on previous research studies that examined the prevalence of business ownership among immigrant entrepreneurs and the industries in which they were found.

The new Statistics Canada study finds that the rate of business failure is highest in the initial years after start-up. Specifically, among all immigrant owners, 11.5% terminated ownership after one year in business, with this share declining to 3.9% after seven years in business. Overall, about 80% of all immigrant business owners were still in operation after two years and 56% were still in operation after seven. Exit rates from business ownership and the duration of ownership were about the same among Canadian-born owners of private incorporated firms.

Recent immigrants (that is, those in Canada for less than 10 years) had higher exit rates from ownership and shorter durations of ownership than did the Canadian-born or longer-term immigrants (that is, those in Canada for 10 or more years). While 51% of recent immigrant business owners were still in operation after seven years, this was the case for 57% of long-term immigrant business owners and 58% of Canadian-born business owners.

Among recent immigrants, business class immigrants had the highest exit rates and shortest duration of ownership. Among longer-term immigrants, exit rates and the duration of ownership varied little across immigrant admission categories.

A number of other factors were found to be associated with longer duration of business ownership among immigrant owners, including being 30 to 49 years of age; owning a business in the health sector; and being from Europe, Southeast Asia, India, or select English-speaking countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa. Education was found to have only a small effect on exit rates and duration once the effects of other variables were taken into account.

Immigrant owners of private incorporated businesses in the health sector (for example, laboratories, nursing companies, doctors’ offices and chiropractic practices) had particularly long durations of ownership and exit rates that were only one-third of those observed among immigrant business owners in other sectors. Owners in real estate and leasing, food and accommodation, professional services and wholesale trade generally had the shortest duration of ownership.

via The Daily — Study: The exit and survival patterns of immigrant entrepreneurs

The Daily — Police-reported hate crime, 2016

Latest numbers and analytical note:

Police reported 1,409 hate crimes in Canada in 2016, 47 more than in 2015. This represented less than 0.1% of the 1,895,546 crimes (excluding traffic violations) that were reported by police services. The 3% increase in hate crimes was a result of more incidents targeting South Asians and Arabs or West Asians, the Jewish population, and people based on their sexual orientation. In contrast, hate crimes against Muslims and Catholics declined in 2016.

Canada’s population has become more diverse as the proportion of foreign-born, non-Christian religion and people who report as being gay, lesbian, bisexual or in a same-sex relationship continues to grow. For instance, overall, one-fifth of Canada’s population was foreign-born in 2016 and this could reach from 24.5% to 30.0% by 2036.

Since comparable data became available in 2009, the number of police-reported hate crimes have ranged from 1,167 incidents in 2013 to 1,482 incidents in 2009. On average, about 1,360 hate crime incidents have been reported annually by police since 2009.

Police data on hate-motivated crimes are also dependent on the willingness of victims to bring the incident to the attention of police and on the police services’ level of expertise in identifying crimes motivated by hate. As with other crimes, self-reported data provide another way of monitoring hate-motivated crimes. According to the 2014 General Social Survey on Victimization, which measures eight types of crimes, Canadians self-reported having been the victim of over 330,000 criminal incidents that they perceived as being motivated by hate (5% of the total self-reported incidents). Two-thirds of these incidents were not reported to the police.

Police-reported hate crimes refer to criminal incidents that, upon investigation by police, are found to have been motivated by hatred toward an identifiable group, as defined in subparagraph 718.2(a)(i) of the Criminal Code of Canada. An incident may be against a person or property and may target race, colour, national or ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, language, sex, age, mental or physical disability, among other factors. In addition, there are four specific offences listed as hate propaganda offences or hate crimes in the Criminal Code of Canada: advocating genocide, public incitement of hatred, willful promotion of hatred, and mischief motivated by hate in relation to religious property. Police determine whether or not a crime was motivated by hatred and indicate the type of motivation based on information gathered during the investigation and common national guidelines for record classification.

Chart 1  Number of police-reported hate crimes, Canada, 2009 to 2016

Chart 1: Number of police-reported hate crimes, Canada, 2009 to 2016

Hate crimes targeting South Asians and Arabs or West Asians increases

In 2016, 48% of all police-reported hate crimes were motivated by hatred of a race or ethnicity. That year, police reported 666 crimes that were motivated by hatred of race or ethnicity, up 4% from the previous year. This increase was largely due to 24 more hate crimes targeting South Asians and 20 more incidents targeting Arabs or West Asians. British Columbia (+13) and Ontario (+9) accounted for most of the increase in crimes against South Asians. Quebec reported 10 more crimes against Arabs or West Asians than in 2015 (from 31 incidents in 2015 to 41 in 2016).

Crimes motivated by hatred of East or Southeast Asian populations also increased from 2015 to 2016, rising from 49 to 61 incidents. While British Columbia reported 17 more incidents than the previous year, Ontario reported 7 fewer.

Police-reported hate crime against Aboriginal peoples continued to account for a relatively small proportion of hate crimes (2%), falling from 35 to 30 incidents.

Although down 4% (from 224 incidents to 214 in 2016), crimes targeting Black populations remained the most common type of hate crime related to race or ethnicity at 15% of all hate crimes.

Police report fewer hate crimes targeting the Muslim population

Police reported 460 hate crimes targeting religious groups in 2016, 9 fewer than in the previous year. These accounted for one-third of all hate crimes in Canada.

Following a notable increase in hate crimes against the Muslim population in 2015, police reported 20 fewer in 2016 for a total of 139. The decrease in police-reported hate crimes against Muslims was the result of fewer reported incidents in Quebec (-16), Alberta (-8) and Ontario (-6).

Similarly, after an increase in 2015, hate crimes against Catholics also decreased, from 55 to 27 in 2016. Ontario reported 16 fewer incidents, and declines were also seen in Quebec (-7) and the Atlantic provinces (-5).

In contrast, hate crimes against the Jewish population grew from 178 to 221 incidents. Increases were seen in Ontario (+31), Quebec (+11) and Manitoba (+7).

Increase in hate crimes targeting sexual orientation

Hate crimes targeting sexual orientation accounted for 13% of all police-reported hate crimes in 2016, rising from 141 incidents in 2015 to 176 in 2016. A greater number of incidents over these two years were reported in Quebec (+15), British Columbia (+11), Ontario (+7) and Saskatchewan (+4).

The national trend driven by more reported offences in Quebec and British Columbia and fewer in Ontario and Alberta

Among the provinces, the greatest increase in the absolute number of police-reported hate crimes was observed in Quebec, where incidents rose from 270 in 2015 to 327 in 2016. This increase was mostly attributable to more hate crimes targeting Arabs and West Asians, the Jewish population and sexual orientation.

British Columbia also reported more hate crimes, rising from 164 to 211. The increase was attributable to crimes against the East or Southeast Asian and South Asian populations, which doubled from 2015 to 2016 (from 15 to 32 and from 11 to 24, respectively).

In contrast, the number of police-reported hate crimes in Alberta declined from 193 in 2015 to 139 in 2016 due to fewer crimes targeting religion.

Hate crimes were more violent in 2016

Based on data from police services that provided detailed information on hate crimes for both 2015 and 2016, an increased violence was observed in hate crimes. For example, violent hate-motivated crimes (for example, assault, threats, criminal harassment and other violent offences) rose from 487 in 2015 to 563 in 2016, up 16%. In 2016, 43% of hate crimes were violent, compared with 38% in 2015.

Hate crimes targeting sexual orientation continued to be the most violent hate crimes. In 2016, 71% of hate crimes motivated by hatred of the victims’ sexual orientation were violent crimes. By comparison, 27% of hate crimes targeting religion and 45% targeting ethnicity were violent.

via The Daily — Police-reported hate crime, 2016

The Daily — Income and mobility of immigrants, 2015

Usual informative StatsCan summary analytical note:

The median entry wages of immigrant tax filers who landed in 2014 were $24,000 in 2015, the highest on record for immigrants who have landed since 1981. Median entry wages are measured as the median wages one year after landing (e.g., their admission to Canada as permanent residents). The median entry wages of the 2013 cohort were $22,000, while they were $18,400 for those who landed in 2000.

This data comes from the Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB), an administrative database that enables the analysis of immigrant cohorts through time and across different admission categories, such as the Canadian Experience Class, Family Class or Refugees.

Immigrants face different challenges when they land in Canada, such as recognition of foreign credentials or the ability to speak at least one of the official languages. Although increasing over the last few years, the median wages of recent immigrants remain lower than those of the Canadian population. For the Canadian-born population, the 2016 Census estimated the 2015 median wages at $36,000, compared to $35,000 for the immigrant population.

Principal applicants in the Canadian Experience Class category have the highest wages

Not all immigrants face the same challenges after landing. The Canadian Experience Class is one program for immigrants to gain permanent residency, intended for people with skilled work experience in Canada. In 2015, immigrant tax filers who landed in 2014 as principal applicants under the Canadian Experience Class admission category had the highest median wages of all groups who landed that year, at $53,000. This is comparable with that of other immigrant cohorts since 2009, when immigrants were first admitted in the Canadian Experience Class. In 2014, the number and proportion of Canadian Experience Class immigrants increased greatly. For example, from the 2013 cohort, 3.1% of tax filers (3,660 immigrants) with wages one year after landing came from that admission category, while for the 2014 cohort, this proportion was 9.4% (12,150 immigrants).

By comparison, among other economic immigrant categories in the 2014 cohort, provincial and territorial nominees and skilled workers had median wages of $37,000 and $26,000, respectively.

Wages increase with the number of years since admission to Canada

Although for most immigration categories, the wages a few years after admission are lower than for the Canadian-born population, they increase with the number of years spent in Canada. The median wages of immigrant tax filers admitted to Canada in 2005 were estimated at $17,600 in 2006, one year after landing. For the same cohort, they increased to $25,000 five years after landing, and $32,000 a decade after.

The number of years in Canada leads to increased wages for immigrants in all admission categories. For example, the median wages of the 2005 cohort of government-assisted refugees were $7,800 one year after landing, $16,000 five years after landing, and $21,000 in 2015, a decade after landing. By contrast, the median wages of privately-sponsored refugees were $19,900 one year after landing, $23,000 five years after landing, and $27,000 in 2015.

Wages of immigrants born in Europe and the United States are higher than those from other regions

Although wages increase with the number of years in the country, there are differences in the economic outcomes of immigrants of the same cohort. The wages of immigrants vary by a number of characteristics, such as age, sex and region of birth.

For the 2005 cohort, the median wages in 2015 were $50,000 for male immigrant tax filers born in Europe and $51,000 for those born in the United States, compared to $30,000 for those born in East Asia.

These differences by region of birth were less pronounced for immigrant women, but their wages were generally lower than their male immigrant counterparts. For example, the median wages for female immigrants born in Europe who landed in 2005 were $34,000 in 2015, compared with $30,000 for those born in the United States and $24,000 for those born in East Asia. These differences are likely related to several factors, including ability to speak at least one of the official languages, educational background, and whether foreign credentials are recognized in the labour market.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Median wages by area of birth and sex for immigrant filers admitted in 2005, tax year 2015
Median wages by area of birth and sex for immigrant filers admitted in 2005, tax year 2015

Chart 1: Median wages by area of birth and sex for immigrant filers admitted in 2005, tax year 2015

Wages of immigrant children admitted between 1980 and 1991 are similar to those of Canadian-born

Many people migrate to another country to improve the living conditions of their children. Immigrants who come to Canada as children achieve similar labour market outcomes as their Canadian-born counterparts. This could be because their education (in part or in whole) is obtained in Canada, and fluency in one of the official languages is less likely to be a barrier.

Immigrants who landed before the age of 20 between 1980 and 1991 had median wages of $49,000 in 2015, according to the Longitudinal Immigration Database (note that these immigrants were between the ages of 24 and 54 in 2015). According to 2016 Census data, the median wages of the Canadian-born population aged 25 to 54 years were $48,000 in 2015.

When controlling for admission category, immigrant children have comparable employment outcomes to their Canadian-born counterparts. Among these immigrants who came to the country before the age of 20 more than 25 years ago, the median wages in 2015 were $45,000 for government-sponsored refugees, and $46,000 for those who were sponsored privately.

Immigrants from the family class are most likely to remain in the province of destination

Admission categories reflect different immigration objectives. Family class immigrants come to be closer to their family, while economic immigrants are selected for their ability to contribute to the labour force. The reasons for immigrating to Canada can influence which immigrants remain in their province of landing over time.

Overall, in 2015, 86% of immigrant tax filers who landed in 2010 filed tax returns in their province of landing. Proportions were highest in Alberta (90%) and Ontario (91%).

Immigrants admitted under the family class are more likely to reside in their destination province five years after landing. For instance, 93% of immigrants whose province of destination was Quebec and who were admitted under a family class category were residing in Quebec five years after landing, compared with 78% for refugees and 82% for economic immigrants.

via The Daily — Income and mobility of immigrants, 2015

Transition from temporary foreign workers to permanent residents

Former Minister Alexander’s asserted before CIMM during its study of C-24 that:

…it’s very important to distinguish between the two different broad categories of status that non-Canadian citizens can have here. One is temporary resident status and the other is permanent resident status. We are saying that the time that will count toward citizenship is permanent resident status. We don’t want those lines to be blurred. (28 April 2014)

This latest Statistics Canada belies that dichotomy, as do IRCC’s Open Data data sets (my chart below based upon this series – Transition from Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident Status.

There were 310,000 temporary work permit holders on December 31, 2015, accounting for 1.7% of the national employed workforce. The number of TFWs has more than quadrupled since 2000 (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada 2017).

Over the 2000s, immigration to Canada was increasingly drawn from TFWs. For instance, the proportion of newly landed adult immigrant men already holding a job in Canada rose from 16.3% in 1999 to 28.9% in 2010. Most of this increase consisted of immigrants who had high-paying jobs in Canada before attaining permanent resident status.

About 9% of TFWs who came to Canada between 1995 and 1999 became permanent residents within five years of receiving their first work permit. This was the case for 13% of those who came to Canada between 2000 and 2004, and for 21% of those who came between 2005 and 2009.

Most transitions from TFW status to permanent resident status occurred within the five years following receipt of the first work permit. The rate rises another 1 to 3 percentage points by the 10th year, with little increase observed thereafter.

Transition rates

The rate of transition to permanent residence varied by type of work permit. Among those who came to Canada between 2005 and 2009, the five-year transition rate was highest among those in the Live-in Caregiver Program (LICP), at 56%, and the Spouse or Common-law Partner category, at 50%. The lowest rates for transition to permanent residence were among those in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP), at 2%, and the Reciprocal Employment category, at 9%.

A large difference in the transition rate by type of work permit is a result of government policy. For example, while all those in the LICP are allowed to apply for permanent residence after two years of full-time work as domestic workers, SAWP workers have no dedicated stream for transition, and may only be employed for a maximum of eight months per year. Their SAWP permits, however, can be renewed over many years.

Source: Transition from temporary foreign workers to permanent residents

Intergenerational Income Transmission: New Evidence from Canada

Interesting study. No breakdown by immigrants/non-immigrants or visible minority/non-visible minority:

Comparative studies of intergenerational earnings and income mobility largely rank Canada as one of the most mobile countries among advanced economies, such as Denmark, Finland and Norway. The assertion that Canada is a highly mobile society is drawn from intergenerational income elasticity estimates reported in Corak and Heisz (1999). Corak and Heisz used data from the earlier version of the Intergenerational Income Database (IID), which tracked the income of Canadian youth only into their early thirties. Recent theoretical literature, however, suggests that the relationship between childrens’ and parents’ lifetime income may not be accurately estimated when children’s income is not observed from their mid-careers—known as lifecycle bias.

The present study addresses this concern by re-examining the extent of intergenerational earnings and income mobility in Canada using the updated version of the IID, which tracks children well into their mid-forties, when mid-career income is observed. This information is essential for intergenerational analysis, as the literature shows that bias arising from lifecycle variation can be greatly mitigated by comparing fathers’ and offspring’s earnings near their mid-careers. Moreover, this paper also examines whether intergenerational mobility differs across the population. With nearly 250,000 observations, the study can differentiate the degree of intergenerational transmission across the full spectrum of the income distribution.

The empirical analysis in this study is based on Statistics Canada’s IID, which was constructed from various tax records to link together children and their parents. The IID consists of youth aged 16 to 19 in 1982 whose tax records are linked to the tax records of their parents by means of the parents’ and the children’s Social Insurance Numbers and information from Statistics Canada’s T1 Family File. The data provide more than 20 years of income history for both parents (1978 to 1999) and children (1986 to 2008) that allows for comparison of the income of children and parents when they were at the main stage of the lifecycle.

The results from the analysis suggest that Canada is still a mobile society, but not to the same extent as previously thought. The new estimate of the father–son earnings elasticity is about 0.32, which is noticeably higher than the values previously reported in the literature (which have been in the neighbourhood of 0.2): lifecycle bias alone explains about two-thirds of the discrepancy between the early estimates and the new result. The extent of intergenerational persistence tends to be greater when market income (i.e., the sum of earnings, self-employment income and asset income) is measured. This suggests that other mechanisms, such as transmission of jobs or entrepreneurial skills, may also be at work. Interestingly, the analysis also shows that the father–daughter elasticity is much less sensitive to these biases. Moreover, the paper documents a clear pattern of nonlinearity in the intergenerational transmission of earnings and income in Canada. In particular, the path to the top of the distribution appears to be quite challenging for sons born to low-income fathers. On the other hand, these same sons appear to have significant chances of moving into the middle class. Social institutions may help explain the latter findings. Finally, this paper demonstrates that the patterns of nonlinearity can be significantly misread when the lifecycle bias is not adequately addressed, especially over the upper part of the distribution.

Source: Intergenerational Income Transmission: New Evidence from Canada

Census needs to reflect modern reality about gender | Toronto Star

I am sure StatsCan is already thinking about this in the context of the 2021 Census and the best means to do so (may just be an “other” category:

After 10 years, the long-form Canadian census is back. Young Canadians, primed by a decade of digital media saturation, flocked online in droves so large we took down the website.

It makes sense — and it’s not just false enthusiasm as we collectively do our duty because “it’s the law.” A generation used to sharing its descriptive statistics online (finding friends, networking, dating) would intuitively understand the benefit of the census. Understanding the sociodemographic landscape helps us know and better service ourselves. And after all, that’s what millennials want: a fairer and more representative social democracy.

Yet, as Canadians fill out the census, some gawk at the glaring anachronism of the gender binary, the idea that there are two mutually exclusive genders: males and females, who occupy distinct cultural, social, and sexual roles.

But we know this isn’t true. The recent media awakening to transgender people (Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner, Jazz Jennings) is evidence that gender variance has gone mainstream.

If we recognize men and women who identify with the genders they were assigned at birth (cisgender) and we recognize men and women who do not identify with their assigned gender (transgender), then surely we agree this difference is worth recording.

As my friend quipped, “Well, they’re not asking about gender. They’re asking about sex!” His point reflects the growing awareness about gender as the patterns of behaviour and expression associated with its respective sex categories. This is good. It shows a recognition of people whose self-concepts do not match the gender assigned them at birth.

…Despite a variety of new ways to capture gender variation in the population, this simple two-step approach takes us miles further than the two-option approach of the 2016 Census:

  1. Do you identify with the gender you were assigned at birth? Yes / No / Not sure / Prefer not to say
  2. Please indicate your current gender: Male, Female, Non-Binary, Intersex, Other (please describe):

As the 2016 census has done with its categories for race, we must open up how we assess gender. I know it seems hard, but let’s no longer pretend we cannot do better.

Source: Census needs to reflect modern reality about gender | Toronto Star

StatsCan — Reasons for not voting in the federal election, October 19, 2015

Voter Turnout 2015-2011 Elections.001Good overview. Overall striking that turnout rates for longer-term foreign-born citizens are virtually identical to the Canadian-born, and that the gap between more recent citizens shrunk between elections, perhaps reflecting opposition to a number of the citizenship and immigration changes made by the previous government.

Extract from the StatsCan report below:

By immigrant status, the largest increase was among immigrant Canadians with citizenship who had been in Canada for 10 years or less, as their turnout rate went up from 56% to 70%. The turnout rate for immigrant Canadians with citizenship who had been in Canada for more than 10 years increased from 71% to 76%. Among Canadian-born citizens, the rate also increased, up from 70% to 78%.

Source: The Daily — Reasons for not voting in the federal election, October 19, 2015

2016 census drops income and benefits over faulty data given data to come from CRA

Good change and use of existing and more accurate data:

When Canadians receive their census questionnaires this May, they’ll no longer be asked to report their income and benefits — something Statistics Canada says produced subpar data.

“To substantially reduce the burden on Canadians, and improve the quality of income data compared to previous censuses, Statistics Canada will use income and benefits data from the Canada Revenue Agency for all census respondents to replace questions previously asked on the 2011 National Household Survey questionnaire,” a recently-published order-in-council explained.

Aside from the return of the mandatory component of the long-form census, which Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains announced the day after being sworn in last November, the 2016 Census of Population will essentially mirror the 2011 National Household Survey.

“There are no new questions on the short or long form. To ensure comparability over time, with the exception of two changes, questions asked by the Census of Population will remain the same as they were in 2011,” a Statistics Canada agency spokesperson told iPolitics.

“First, the question on religion will not be included as the census program has asked this question only every 10 years since 1871. Second, in order to reduce the time required and make it easier for Canadians to respond, income questions will be replaced with more precise tax and benefit data that have been available to Statistics Canada since 1985.”

The latter change is welcomed by Philip Cross, formerly the chief economic analyst at the agency.

When asked about it, Cross referred to a paper he wrote with Munir Sheikh — the head of Statistics Canada who resigned in the wake of the Harper government’s decision end the long-form census in 2010.

That paper, published by the University of Calgary school of public policy last March, attempted to assess the extent of the middle class plight dominating the Canadian political discourse.

And one problem it highlighted was the “disquieting” difference between what people reported as income when surveyed, as in the census, and the tax data reported by the Canada Revenue Agency.

In a nutshell, Canadians were underestimating their income.

“One reason households routinely underestimate their income in surveys is they respond as if only wages and salaries are income, ignoring the growing importance of supplementary benefits such as employer contributions to pensions or health care that are included in taxable benefits,” Cross and Sheikh wrote.

Supplementary income, they added, had risen to over 13 per cent of all labour income.

“Most of these benefits accrue to middle-income earners, something that should be taken account of when examining how their real income has fared in survey data. As well, surveys exclude irregular sources of income, such as bonuses or stock options,” they wrote.

“Income tax data are less timely but more complete.”

Will miss the religion question but it has always been on a 10-year cycle.

You needn’t talk money anymore