Another Statistics Canada chief quits over cuts and control

Philip Cross, StatsCan’s chief economic analyst, has resigned, citing the reduction of reliable basic information from the Census, and the politicisation of the national statistics agency.

The resignation comes 18 months after the head of StatsCan Munir Sheikh left, forced by the Federal Government to take responsibility for its decision to replace the Census detailed questionnaire by a voluntary household survey. The Federal Government felt that a compulsory census was invasive of privacy, a comment also made by journalists supporting a ‘Mind your own business’ campaign during the 2011 UK Census.

The unknown bias in the Canadian voluntary household survey is blamed for serious uncertainty in Canada’s price index. The consequences of the decision to make the NHS voluntary have only begun to manifest themselves, say economists in Canada. Statistics Canada has had a long deserved worldwide reputation for its independence and authoritative contributions to official statistical methods.  These cuts to the Canadian Census and other surveys caused an outcry and fears of similar downgrading of the statistical base in other countries, as reported in previous entries to this Reduced Statistics blog.

Further cost cuts, due to be announced in this spring’s federal budget, mean the Canadian agency is preparing for the possibility of layoffs.