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Live Online Replay: Parsing the first survey results post long-form census

Categories: Canada, Community, Politics

Statistics Canada's former chief statisticians Munir Sheikh (left) and Ivan Fellegi (right) told the Commons industry committee in 2010 it was a bad idea to cancel the long-form census.(Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

When the federal government scrapped the mandatory long-form census, the decision deeply upset several critics - including then head of Statistics Canada Munir Sheikh, who resigned in protest after almost 40 years of civil service.

"I want to take this opportunity to comment on a technical statistical issue which has become the subject of media discussion. This relates to the question of whether a voluntary survey can become a substitute for a mandatory census," Sheikh stated in 2010. "It cannot."

The government countered that the change was made to reasonably limit what many Canadians felt was an intrusion of their personal privacy, and decried the possibility of fines or jail time for those who refused to fill out the long form.

On Wednesday, Canadians saw the first report based on voluntary data from the long-form census' controversial replacement: the inaugural 2011 National Household Survey.

In this week's episode of CBC Live Online, we'll be taking a closer look at these first results from the voluntary questionnaire and put the data in context.

We'll review the differences between the voluntary survey and the long-form census, talk about the speed of the transition between the two, and work through some the concerns expressed by analysts, statisticians and others who rely on census data.

Bookmark this page and join us on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET to discuss these issues with our special guests and other audience members in the window embedded below.

This week's special guests include:

  • Ivan Fellegi, Statistics Canada's former chief statistician (1985 - 2008), who says analysts must be cautious when working with data resulting from the National Household Survey.
  • Paul Jacobson, a Toronto-based consulting economist who has followed the process closely. (He was also interviewed Wednesday on The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti)
  • Sara Mayo of the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton. She works extensively with census numbers, and will speak to the value of local data when shaping public policy.

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Tags: Canada, CBC Live Online

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