Tories leave us flying blind

Liberal Industry critic claims national census changes costing more than it saves

To the editor:

Canadian taxpayers are now paying more for less thanks to Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod and the Conservative government’s costly changes to our national census.

The results are in and their decision to eliminate the mandatory long-form census has produced much lower-quality data that will often not be usable at the local level. In fact, Statistics Canada withheld data on more that 1,100 Canadian municipalities because the numbers were just too unreliable.

The federal government spent an extra $30 million to collect this inaccurate data compared to the traditional, proven census. What a waste!

How will a community know where a food bank is needed if we don’t know which neighbourhoods have the most poverty?

How will school boards know where adult language training is most needed without knowing where immigrants are settling?

We just don’t know.

The errors in the data will only get worse over time. At least this time, Statistics Canada can use the last full census as an anchor to correct some of the problems.

Next time, that option won’t do much good.

The problem is spreading – governments and the private sector use data from the census to adjust their surveys if a group’s response rate is low. Now, all these other statistics will be less reliable.

Mrs. McLeod and the Conservatives are asking us to start making big, expensive decisions blindly, without the basic data that is essential to good planning, and they’re charging us more to do it.

It’s irresponsible and we’re paying the price.

Geoff Regan, Liberal MP

Industry critic