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The Progressive Economics Forum

Social Statistics: Ignorance Is Bliss

Pretty soon asking even the most basic social policy questions will require huge amounts of investment in primary research. Regularly published statistical reports and summaries are disappearing by the minute.

The elimination of the National Council of Welfare in the Budget means that we will no longer be getting Welfare Incomes, a more or less annual publication which allowed one to compare provinces with respect to social assistance benefits by family type.

Good luck pulling that information together on your own from provincial web sites.

While one can still quite readily get data on the incidence, depth and duration of poverty from StatsCan, we no longer get regular analytical reports on low income of the kind which used to be published by the National Council of Welfare and by the now virtually defunct Canadian Council on Social Development.

I am a bit behind the curve here, but just learned that HRSDC has recently stopped  making available on their web site “Social Security Statistics: Canada and Provinces” , a formerly annual huge compendium of statistics on expenditures and beneficiaries of  a wide range of income support programs. (Go to Gilles Seguin’s invaluable web site for more detail and archived reports.)

Deep cuts over at Statscan will almost certainly mean far, far fewer analytical reports on social issues, and the elimination of even more surveys.

So, look forward to even more fact free policy debate.

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Comments

Comment from Travis Fast
Time: April 12, 2012, 8:25 pm

Yep more anecdotes up your arse POV. Prefect for the post-fact economy.

Comment from Christina Toth
Time: April 12, 2012, 11:08 pm

This is an abusive relationship, the one between the Harper conservatives and us. What have we the citizens done to be treated with such contempt and disregard? Why does Harper hate us so much? Why is he trying to cause so much harm to our beautiful nation? I just don’t get it.

Comment from Frances Woolley
Time: April 13, 2012, 4:51 am

Andrew, glad you’re posting on this. I’ve noticed lots of older publications disappearing from government web sites. E.g. I was trying to find some of Status of Women Canada’s original work on Gender Based Analysis, but couldn’t – the page redirects to the National Archives, but the material isn’t there. Have other people had this problem? What are the kinds of things that we’re losing?

Comment from CAPE Member
Time: April 13, 2012, 8:58 am

Excellent piece. Access to StatsCan data may be even more affected by cuts to other government departments (OGDs), because so much of StatsCan’s work has already been put on a cost-recovery basis (and thus funded hitherto by programs which are now being cut in OGDs).

Comment from Paul Tulloch
Time: April 13, 2012, 9:50 am

I bet we still get weekly car loadings of coal, weekly tons of steel produced etc. Amazing how we can have all the major business stats on a weekly basis yet the major social issues screaming on the streets without a statistical voice. And for those that potentially get captured, their voices have to echo down a 2-5 year time hallway to release date.

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