May 11 is Census Day in Canada. As Statistics Canada describes it:

Every five years, Canadians are invited to participate in the census to help paint a portrait of Canada’s diverse population and the places where we live.

The Census of Population provides high-quality information on key socioeconomic trends and analysis that helps Canadians make important decisions that affect our families, our neighbourhoods and our businesses.

The Census captures an important snapshot of Canada’s population, said to be painting “a detailed and comprehensive statistical portrait of Canada”. It yields high quality information to inform policy makers and planning for government programs and social services, infrastructure and investment from both government and private sectors, leading to better outcomes for all of us.

For most of us, it takes just a few minutes to fill out the short form. A quarter of us will receive a long form [or this version] that gathers more detailed information, such as family and demographic concepts, activities of daily living, immigration, ethnocultural diversity and languages, education, labour, commuting, and Veterans, income and expenditures, and housing.

When I did my graduate work in statistics, I chose a school in Ottawa because of Statistics Canada; many of the faculty at the time had close ties to the government agency and were world-leading statisticians. From them, I learned a lot about striving for excellence in data collection and reporting. Frequent readers know that I often decry some of the embarrassingly poor quality of analysis masquerading as reports on the digital economy.

I am much more inclined to rely on Statistics Canada for information gathering. Three months ago, I wrote “Better data leads to better decisions”, talking about Statistics Canada new telecommunications data portal. It is continuing to be enhanced with even more data and high quality information.

A few weeks ago, I described a webinar taking place later this week (on Tuesday), asking “Are pandemics caused by lack of good information?” The abstract for the session says “A pandemic is essentially an information problem, and if we solve the information problem, we can defeat the virus.” There is still time to register for Tuesday’s session.

The census sets the foundation upon which so much of our demographic information is built. Statistics Canada has even come up with a page of different Spotify and YouTube soundtracks to help get in the mood. [It clearly isn’t the same staid agency from my grad school days!]

Better data definitely leads to better decisions. Be sure to count yourself in.




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