Accountability Employment Race and ethnicity

How the labour movement continues to fail minorities in Canada… and how minorities respond

Accountability Employment

UK Office for National Statistics responds to concern over self-employment. StatsCan? Not so much.

Chart 1a Earnings, income by type of work and class of worker (usual hours)
Chart 1a Earnings, income by type of work and class of worker (usual hours)

Source: Census of Population, 2006 [Canada]: Public Use Microdata File. Individual File: Canada. 2.7% sample, Statistics Canada.

To the UK…

Self-employed workers in the UK – 2014
Office for National Statistics August 20, 2014

Readers unfamiliar with the Bank of England quarterly should check out the press conference that followed release of the August 2014 Inflation Report. The increasingly embattled Bank of England (formerly Bank of Canada) Governor Mark Carney found himself facing reporters asking whether the Bank was ‘”clueless” and debating its “degree of cluelessness”.

A particular target of their ire was questionable LFS employment and wage growth data produced by the ONS and cited by the Bank to bolster its case for a sustained economic recovery. A recovery increasingly fuelled by the self-employed, from whom the UK LFS – like its Canadian counterpart – does not solicit self-employment income information.

Accountability Employment

July 2014 LFS: StatsCan revision and re-release, plus pre-revised tables


Labour Force Survey, July 2014 (corrected)
Statistics Canada August 15, 2014

Hope this helps those who didn’t have a chance to grab the pre-revised tables before the August 8, 2014 release was taken down. The tables are still accessible using direct links (will upload PDFs if/when they’re taken down):

Table 1 – Labour force characteristics by age and sex – Seasonally adjusted August 8, 2014
(google cache copy)

Table 2 – Employment by class of worker and industry (based on NAICS) – Seasonally adjusted August 8, 2014
(google cache copy)

Table 3 – Labour force characteristics by province – Seasonally adjusted August 8, 2014
(google cache copy)

As per the usual caveat, these numbers are meaningless since they’ll likely be revised again in the future. We won’t bother revising the July 2014 ‘alternative’ LFS release.

Accountability Transparency

2011 NHS: Environics Analytics makes critics’ fears reaility, and why you shouldn’t buy ‘CensusPlus’

Thanks to Prof. Murtaza Haider, whose HuffPost write-up drew our attention to this.

When the long-form Census cancellation story first broke in June 2010, an astute fellow (ahem) observed the move would negatively impact provincial governments, community groups and other organizations that previously relied on its data, noting: “It will be a disaster. A lot of policy across Canada has been based on that long form.”

That the data for smaller geographic areas wouldn’t be reliable enough to publish was anticipated by most people with a basic grasp of stats. Unfortunately, that nowhere-near-exclusive group didn’t include then-Industry Minister Tony Clement – or any member of his party, apparently.

Accountability Governance Transparency

StatsCan to collect Social Insurance Numbers despite lack of authorisation, oversight

If the census test currently underway is any indication, Statistics Canada is planning to collect a critical piece of personal identification from respondents during the upcoming census. A quick ‘told ya so’ (see What’s the end game) before proceeding.

A Social Insurance Number (SIN) can be used to obtain much more than just Canada Revenue Agency tax file data. That’s why the Government of Canada advises citizens to closely guard their SIN numbers from those not authorised to collect or use them.

Who can ask for my SIN number?
Frequently Asked Questions, Office of the Privacy Commissioner May 15, 2014 (last modified)

Annex 2 – Authorized Federal Uses of the SIN
The Social Insurance Number Code of Practice, Service Canada March 4, 2014 (last modified)

The referenced Privacy Commissioner and Service Canada pages both indicate the legislated and authorised users of Canadian SIN numbers. One agency absent from the list: Statistics Canada. The advice from both the Privacy Commissioner and Service Canada is that citizens shouldn’t share their SIN numbers with unauthorised users; at this point, that includes Statistics Canada. Whether that changes remains to be seen.

Aboriginal - First Nations Accountability Civil liberties Justice Race and ethnicity

The sorry state of Canadian civil liberties: Hate crime up, race primary motive


Hate crimes in Canada: Most violent against gays, black people most targeted racial group
Craig Takeuchi, June 27, 2014

The referenced StatsCan release. As the article notes, the majority of all police-reported hate crimes (704 incidents, or 52 percent) were racially or ethnically motivated. Yet, remarkably, the few stories published focused on sexual orientation, a far less frequent motive (185 incidents, or 13%), albeit one involving greater incidence of violence.

Aboriginal - First Nations Accountability Civil liberties Justice Race and ethnicity

The sorry state of Canadian civil liberties: Defining away ‘diversity’


Photo above appears to be from The Canadian Press (original source unknown). The white rubber wristband federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay appears to wear is interesting. It’s popularly associated with the Make Poverty History campaign. Among the issues discussed by the Canadian MPH campaign is homeless veterans – interesting, given the accompanying Support Our Troops lapel pin.

Cynical symbology is a useful segue to the latest scandal Mr. MacKay finds himself facing, over a Mother’s Day greeting / supposedly sexist quip about female judges. Its absurdity was recently highlighted by an exchange of open letters between a columnist and his wife.

What the beleaguered Justice Minister wrote or said is secondary to his (can’t stress this point often enough) as well as previous Canadian governments’ policy decisions and resulting outcomes. And those outcomes are far worse for racial / ethno-cultural minorities than for women. Which begs the question(s): When/why/how did ‘diversity’ in judicial appointments become exclusively associated with female nominees, especially when the imbalance is many times greater for racial and other actual minority groups?

Accountability Justice Transparency

‘Broken Trust’ in Canadian justice system goes beyond lawyers’ criminality

Law Society of Upper Canada

Project: Broken Trust
Kenyon Wallace, Rachel Mendleson, Dale Brazao, Andrew Bailey, The Toronto Star May 2014

The law society is responsible for regulating Ontario’s 46,000 lawyers and 5,000 licensed paralegals… Of the approximately 4,700 complaints received annually, about 3,100 are authorized for full investigation. About 100 make it to a disciplinary hearing each year… 236 lawyers were disciplined by the law society for behaviour the Star characterized as criminal-like. Of those, 41 were charged criminally… 12 served time in jail…

Amount of client money these lawyers were responsible for misusing by stealing, defrauding, failing to account, overdrawing, improperly dispersing and other law society classifications, as found by the Star: $61,457,642

236 lawyers, $61.5 Million stolen – and those are just the ones against whom complaints were filed and disciplinary action was taken. The first story in the series gives an example: a defrauded client who had to pay $50,000 in legal fees to recover a $90,000 claim from the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC). Given that it takes more than a bit of time, effort, and financial security to file a complaint against a lawyer, that 1:10 complaint-to-lawyer ratio along with the total funds stolen by Ontario lawyers is likely the tip of the iceberg. That LSUC lawyers are more likely to become judges could help explain the dismal state of the Canadian justice system.

Accountability Governance Transparency

Cuts to StatsCan capacity go beyond false economy


It’s a false economy to cut Statscan’s budget
Editorial, The Globe and Mail April 22, 2014

Federal Public Service Statistics Canada + SSO Canada
Year Population Change (%) Population Change (%) Population Change (%)
2000 211,925  – 7,043  – 30,525,872  –
2001 223,933 5.7 8,631 22.5 30,824,441 1.0
2002 237,251 12.0 8,750 24.2 31,172,522 2.1
2003 242,737 14.5 8,278 17.5 31,476,734 3.1
2004 244,158 15.2 7,779 10.5 31,776,075 4.1
2005 243,971 15.1 7,557 7.3 32,077,339 5.1
2006 249,932 17.9 8,228 16.8 32,394,898 6.1
2007 254,622 20.1 8,382 19.0 32,739,308 7.3
2008 263,114 24.2 7,722 9.6 33,113,330 8.5
2009 274,370 29.5 7,694 9.2 33,527,199 9.8
2010 282,980 33.5 7,403 5.1 33,930,830 11.2
2011 282,352 33.2 8,105 15.1 34,278,406 12.3
2012 278,092 31.2 7,927 12.6 34,670,352 13.6
2013 262,817 24.0 6,131 -12.9 35,056,100 14.8
Source: Population of the Federal Public Service, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

As questionably competent as StatsCan’s become in recent years, it’s worth highlighting one of the reasons it’s come to be so. As previously discussed, Canada’s Federal Public Service (FPS) staffing had grown significantly out of proportion with the general population in the years prior to the current federal government’s cuts, announced in Federal Budget 2012. The increased FPS staffing could partially be justified as catch-up following years of understaffing, a result of the previous federal government’s austerity budgets in the 1990’s that slashed then froze FPS levels for years.

In context, Statistics Canada (and Statistical Survey Operations) staffing is troubling. Not only did it not keep up with general FPS staffing levels since 2000, it didn’t even keep up with general population growth. StatsCan’s staffing levels fluctuate with Census cycles, so it’s best to compare pre-Census years, 2000, 2005 and 2010. 2000-2005 saw general FPS staffing increase at nearly three times population growth; StatsCan’s had increased slightly greater than population growth. By 2010, general FPS staffing was still increasing at three times the rate of population growth; StatsCan’s had declined relative to population growth. According to Treasury Board, Statscan’s staffing level in 2013 was 13% below it’s 2000 level.

Some argue technological advances should have made it easier and more cost-effective for StatsCan to conduct surveys and produce data. While improved OCR, web and other computing technologies certainly could improve efficiency, without getting into details, the reality is quite different. Survey administration is labour-intensive. For example, potential savings from self-enumeration are offset by the increased cost of telephone / in-person follow-up, as such surveys are more likely to produce poorer response rates and quality. Also, staffing cuts are part of broader budgetary restraint, translating to less capital investment and, more importantly, less training. With many older, less tech-savvy workers (at StatsCan and in the broader FPS), that’s a major problem.

Not surprisingly, StatsCan’s faced some difficult decisions and made some unfortunate choices. If it seems economists have become increasingly vocal of late about their lack of access to data, that’s a result of one of those choices: StatsCan has increasingly come to rely on ‘cost-recovery’ and private contract work for funding.

There’s an obvious conflict of interest when a public institution like StatsCan increasingly relies on private funding – especially so when that privately contracted work is shielded from public scrutiny. For context, Statistics Canada meets its clients’ information needs by integrating their questions into existing surveys or by designing custom surveys for them. (More on that in the near future…)

There’s also an obvious moral hazard when a public institution like StatsCan has an incentive to increasingly withhold data from said public – for example, by not updating public-use microdata or limiting the information disclosed in published tables. Requests for what previously would have been publicly available information are increasingly processed as private ‘custom tabulation’ requests on a ‘cost-recovery’ basis.

This goes beyond false economy; it’s imposed ignorance.


Accountability Governance Justice Transparency

Federal budget 2014: “If the critics of the government are terrorist organizations…”


Jim Flaherty says budget 2014 will crack down on money laundering
Federal finance minister says measures will be announced in Tuesday’s budget
The Canadian Press, February 7, 2014

It’s been argued the current federal government’s been particularly partisan with its budget announcements. Rightfully, critics point to the increasingly onerous ‘omnibus’ budgets laden with public policies that simply don’t belong in a budget bill – in the process denying Parliament the opportunity to properly vette and debate those policies.

Those same critics conveniently overlook the hyper-partisan, perpetual politicking that’s come to characterise an increasing number of Western so-called democratic governments today.  It’s gotten to the point where, in a hocus-pocus move to at once fabricate a balanced budget and stifle debate,  apparently Finance has taken to announcing spending on one page while anticipating not making use of the same expenditure allocation on another. All Canadians suffer from such political chicanery.

The latest twist, quoted in the title, is probably the most disturbing yet. The absurd notion that the budget will be yet another vehicle to crack down on the ever-illusive terrorist threat is something else. Who gets to decide If and which critics are terrorists exactly? Well, the government, natch. It’s a transparent ploy to silence dissent, effectively undermining any pretense of democracy.