Thursday, June 06, 2013

National Housing Survey: News From The Senate

In yesterday's QP, Leader of the Government Marjory  LeBreton admits that the voluntary NHS with replaced Stats Canad's mandatory long form census survey requires improvement, and suggests a possible way forward:

This was the first time, honourable senators, that there has been a voluntary long-form census. Clearly, there are some areas that require improvement and, obviously, by the time it is necessary to conduct the next census, the areas of concern will have been addressed.


We have the mandatory short form as well. There have been suggestions by experts that a few more questions could be added to the short form.

This idea, that in future iterations some questions on the voluntary NHS might be transferred to the mandatory short-form, is developed a little more fully later on:

I did indicate that this was the first time there has been a voluntary long-form census. Some groups have indicated that they would like to see the data be more conclusive. These considerations will be taken into account when Statistics Canada and the government prepare the questions for the next long-form census. People will then be more used to the long form. Whatever questions they put on the mandatory form will address the concerns of the groups that feel this does not produce the data they require.

I don't know how much insider knowledge LeBreton has with respect to the thinking within the government's HOC caucus, but shuffling questions to the short form is an interesting option.  However, it is counterproductive according to the reasoning that has been employed on this issue to date.  Move a question to the short form and you are now invading the privacy of 100% of the population rather than the 25% required for the old long form. Which is to say that, in so far as the government wants accurate data it can't protect privacy, and vice versa.

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