Debate over reliability of StatsCan in wake of budget cuts

September 4, 2014

The Ottawa Citizen has published an overview of the current state of Statistics Canada, surveying the agency's recent history. The report cites several recent instances in which errors were discovered in reported figuresand implies that budget cutbacks, along with changes to the census, have had a significant impact on the efficacy of the organization. The article identifies several small- and large-scale surveys that have been eliminated or cut back in recent years, including the Workplace and Employee Survey and the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics. uOttawa economics professor Miles Corak, a former Senior Manager at StatsCan, says the cuts are reflective of a shift at the agency from serving as a “statistics agency for the nation” to “a service provider for the federal government.” Another former employee, however, says that the cuts have made StatsCan leaner, more focused, and more efficient. In an interview with the Citizen, StatsCan’s Chief Statistician Wayne Smith says that budget cuts have been exaggerated. Smith says that while StatsCan's program has been reduced, “our systems, our processes, are far more robust and solid than they’ve been in the past.” Ottawa Citizen (Changes) | Ottawa Citizen (Interview)