Statistics for Democracy

Statistics Canada is sometimes unfairly blamed for decisions made pursuant to budget cuts and to political direction, most notably in the decision to replace the long form Census with a much less reliable Household Survey.

But the agency deserves tremendous credit for the decision, implemented just a couple of weeks ago, to provide universal free access to the cornucopia of data to be found on CANSIM. It allows data geeks like me to play around with and within a multitude of spread sheets.  Academics and students always had free access, and organizations like the CLC could afford to get the numbers we needed for analysis and advocacy. But the costs were prohibitive for many advocacy organizations and individual citizens.

Along with free access, Statscan has developed a new and massively more user-friendly interface which allows one to manipulate a range of variables to generate a customized table.

Use it or lose it folks.

2 comments

  • Yep great decision. Now maybe research will get done on Canada instead of the US where the data has been free for a long time.

  • Truly it is a goal long in the making finally step one in freeing up the data. However, I fear that they will use that as an excuse to cut back on other data liberation initiatives and staff in the RDCs and customized data which are still needed to do more specialized research.

    I hope not and call me a nervous nelly, but I find the timing a little suspect- potentially coincidence.

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