I’m a little late catching up to the news, and dismayed to learn about the unexpected decision by the Industry Minister to stop administering the long form of the Canadian census to 20% of households. The Minister cites the desire to avoid invasion of privacy, which would be laughable if it weren’t so sad, as anyone who has tried to access Canadian data might know that we have a Fort Knox of data to contend with up here. StatsCan holds data so tightly up here that scholars who want to work on it have to go through a criminal background check and work only in special labs on a few university campuses. They are prevented from taking data home, and have to run all their work past guardians of privacy.
So, without consultation of the social scientists, municipalities, social service providers, or anyone else who uses these data, the Minister made a wholesale change, switching instead to a survey that is voluntary–the equivalent of an internet poll, really, and a waste of the paper it is printed on. What a terrible decision.