Transcript: A Perilous Data Deficit? | Apr 23, 2019

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, checkered pink shirt, and spotted gray tie.

A caption on screen reads "A perilous data deficit? @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says AS A PROGRAM THAT
LIKES TO TRADE IN EMPIRICALLY
PROVEN FACTS AND RATIONAL DEBATE
WE'VE NOTICED WHAT SOME OTHERS
HAVE ALSO NOTICED AND THAT
FINALLY MADE HEADLINES RECENTLY.
CANADA'S GOT A DATA PROBLEM.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN AND WHY
SHOULD YOU CARE?
WELL, WITH US TO EXPLAIN IN THE
NATION'S CAPITAL, WAYNE SMITH,
FORMER CHIEF STATISTICIAN FOR CANADA.

Wayne is in his mid-sixties, clean-shaven, with short gray hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and checked red tie.

Steve continues AND HERE IN OUR STUDIO, CRAIG
ALEXANDER, CHIEF ECONOMIST WITH DELOITTE CANADA.

Craig is in his late forties, clean-shaven and balding. He's wearing glasses, a gray suit, blue shirt, and striped gray tie.

Steve continues JAN KESTLE, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF
ENVIRONICS ANALYTICS...

Jan is in her late fifties, with shoulder-length straight auburn hair. She's wearing an indigo blouse and a metal bead necklace with matching earrings.

Steve continues SUNIL JOHAL, POLICY DIRECTOR AT THE MOWAT CENTRE WHICH IS NOW
ASSOCIATED WITH THE MUNK SCHOOL
OF GLOBAL AFFAIRS AND PUBLIC
POLICY AT U OF T...

Sunil is in his forties, balding, with a stubble. He's wearing rounded glasses, a gray suit and a white shirt.

Steve continues AND TAVIA GRANT, REPORTER AT THE
"GLOBE AND MAIL."

Tavia is in her late forties, with short chestnut hair. She's wearing a red blazer over a black lace blouse, a silver necklace and silver hoop earrings.

Steve continues AND WE'RE DELIGHTED TO WELCOME
EVERYBODY TO OUR PROGRAM TODAY.
WAYNE SMITH TO YOU IN OTTAWA AS
WELL.
AND CAN I SAY, ESPECIALLY TO
TAVIA, YOUR FIRST TIME ON
TELEVISION.

Tavia says FIRST TIME, BE GENTLE.

Steve says VERY HAPPY THAT YOU
ARE HAVING IT WITH US TODAY.
THIS PROGRAM CAME ABOUT AS A
RESULT OF NUMEROUS CONVERSATIONS
WE HAVE HAD OVER THE YEARS AND
WE HAVE HAD REACTIONS LIKE THIS
Mr. DIRECTOR, IF YOU WOULD.

A clip plays on screen with the caption "February 4, 2019."
In the clip, Jim Balsillie talks in the studio. He's in his late fifties, clean-shaven and balding.

He says THE INNOVATION SECTOR IS 7
TRILLION dollars A YEAR SECTOR IN
AMERICA AND THEY WANT TO MAKE IT
14 TRILLION dollars AND THEY'RE GOING
TO PLAY TOUGH TO MAKE THEMSELVES RICH.

Steve says IF THEIRS IN 7
TRILLION dollars, WHAT'S OURS?

Jim says WE DON'T HAVE AN ORGANIZED
FOCUS FOR PULLING THIS TOGETHER.

Another clip plays, in which Nam talks with other guests.

A caption reads "June 20, 2018."

Nam, in her forties, with curly brown hair, says DOES THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT
COLLECT RACE-BASED DATA WHEN IT
COMES TO PRI NATAL HEALTH CARE?

A female guest says NO, THEY DON'T.

Now another clip plays, with the caption "March 25, 2019."

Steve says SHOULD WE HAVE THESE
STATISTICS HANDY?

Craig Alexander says ONE OF THE CHALLENGES OF
DOING POLICY ANALYSIS IS THAT WE
DON'T HAVE ALL THE DATA THAT YOU
WOULD WANT.

The clips end.

Steve says I KNOW THAT GUY.
ANYWAY, WE HEAR THIS ALL THE
TIME.
WE DON'T HAVE THE DATA.
WE'RE NOT SURE THAT THE DATA IS
ANY GOOD, ET CETERA, ET CETERA,
ET CETERA.
SO, WAYNE, START US OFF, PLEASE.
IS THE DATA THAT CANADA COLLECTS
OF GOOD QUALITY IN YOUR VIEW?

The caption changes to "Wayne Smith. Former Chief Statistician of Canada."
Then, it changes again to "This is important, pay attention!"

Wayne says OBVIOUSLY YOU CAN
PRODUCE STATISTICS ON AN
INFINITE VARIETY OF THINGS.
THE CHALLENGE FOR STATISTICAL
OFFICERS IS PRODUCE INFORMATION
THAT'S RELEVANT TO THE MOST
SALIENT POLICY NEEDS AT ANY
GIVEN TIME BASED ON THE
RESOURCES AVAILABLE.
I THINK IN CANADA WE HAVE ON THE
ECONOMIC AND BUSINESS SIDE OF
THE EQUATION A VERY ROBUST
SYSTEM... PROBABLY ONE OF THE...
CERTAINLY ONE OF THE BEST IN THE
WORLD.
HIGHLY INTEGRATED.
THERE ARE SOME ISSUES ABOUT
ACCESS TO THE DATA.
BUT THE DATA THERE IS VERY GOOD
QUALITY.
ON THE SOCIAL SIDE, BECAUSE OUR
STATISTICAL PROGRAM IS LARGELY
SURVEY-BASED, THERE'S BEEN A
STEADY DETERIORATION IN THE
QUALITY OF INFORMATION BECAUSE
OF OUR INCREASING DIFFICULTY IN
COMMUNICATING WITH CANADIANS.
SO COUNTRY THAT IS HAVE
STATISTICAL SYSTEM THAT IS ARE
BASED INITIALLY AND PRIMARILY ON
ADMINISTRATIVE DATA GENERALLY
HAVE BETTER QUALITY THAN THOSE
WORKING EXCLUSIVE WITH SURVEYS
WHICH IS LARGELY OUR CASE.
THERE ARE SOME QUALITY ISSUES.
THERE HAS ALSO BEEN A VERY
SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION IN THE
BUDGET OF STATISTICS CANADA OVER
THE LAST FEW YEARS... ABOUT 30
MILLION dollars HAS BEEN TAKEN OUT OF
THE BUDGET ANNUALLY IS MISSING
NOW FROM THE BUDGET.

Steve says DOES THAT AFFECT THE
QUALITY OF THE DATA THEY COLLECT?

Wayne says CANADA VERY EXPLICITLY
DECIDED THEY WOULD NOT
COMPROMISE QUALITY IN ORDER TO
MAINTAIN A VERY BROAD PROGRAM.
WHAT'S THE USE OF HAVING DATA IF
YOU CAN'T RELY ON IT?
SO THE CUT WAS TAKEN BY ACTUALLY
REDUCING THE SCOPE OF THE
PROGRAM.
NOT THE QUALITY OF THE DATA THAT
WAS CONTINUING.

Steve says IN WHICH CASE LET ME
GO TO JAN FOR THE FOLLOW UP.
DO WE COLLECT ENOUGH DATA IN
THIS COUNTRY?

The caption changes to "Jan Kestle. Environics Analytics."

Jan says I THINK WE DON'T COLLECT ENOUGH.
THERE ARE MANY GAPS AND THEY'RE
VERY IMPORTANT IN TERMS OF HOW
THE COUNTRY WORKS AND HOW, YOU
KNOW, CITIZENS AND MEMBERS OF
COMMUNITIES HAVE SERVICES:
POLICE, FIRE, HEALTH CARE, ALL
DEPEND ON GOOD DATA AND THERE
ARE GAPS.
BUT THE DATA THAT WE COLLECT ARE
OF GOOD QUALITY AND STATISTICS
CANADA IS REGARDED AS AN
INDEPENDENT STATISTICAL AGENCY
THAT PROVIDES DATA THAT IS WORLD
QUALITY.
WE JUST HAVE SOME AREAS WHERE WE
NEED MORE DATA.

Steve says I THINK YOU HAVE SAID
ON THIS PROGRAM A FEW TIMES I
WOULD LOVE TO ANSWER THAT
QUESTION BUT I DON'T HAVE THE
DATA FOR THAT.

The caption changes to "Craig Alexander. Deloitte Canada."

Craig says ALMOST ANYTIME I DO RESEARCH
ON POLICY ISSUES YOU RUN INTO
DATA LIMITATIONS.
I THINK A COUPLE OF COMMENTS
THAT WAYNE SAID REALLY RESONATE
AROUND THE STATISTICAL AGENCY IS
STARTING TO MEASURE WHAT'S
SALIENT, WHAT'S IMPORTANT.
BUT THE CHALLENGE IS WHAT IS
IMPORTANT CONSTANTLY CHANGES.
SO ONE OF THE THINGS THAT'S
CHANGING IS AS THE ECONOMY
EVOLVES, AS SOCIETY EVOLVES, I
THINK THE STATISTICAL AGENCY IS
HAVING DIFFICULTY KEEPING PACE
WITH THE CHANGING TIMES AND ARE
THEY MEASURING THE THINGS THAT
MATTER THE MOST?
AND THEN THERE'S THE RESOURCING
ISSUE AND IT'S DIRECTLY TIED.
IF YOU DON'T HAVE ADDITIONAL
RESOURCES HOW CAN YOU KEEP PACE
WITH THE CHANGES OF WHAT YOU
NEED TO MEASURE?

Steve says TELL ME ONE THING
THAT'S MISSING THAT YOU WOULD
LIKE TO SEE US HAVE MORE DATA ON?

The caption changes to "Craig Alexander, @CraigA_Eco."

Craig says I DON'T EVEN KNOW
WHERE TO START.
THERE ARE SO MANY.
[LAUGHTER]
A REALLY GOOD EXAMPLE
IS STATISTICS CANADA STOPPED THE
SURVEY OF LABOUR AND INCOME
DYNAMICS.
AND ULTIMATELY WAS REPLACED BY
ANOTHER SURVEY... AN INCOME
SURVEY.
BUT IN THE TRANSITION, WE LOST A
LOT OF INFORMATION ABOUT
OCCUPATIONS.
AND I THINK ONE OF THE
CHALLENGES WE HAVE TODAY IN
TERMS OF SKILLS SHORTAGES... I
MEAN WORKER WOULD SAY LIKE TO
KNOW WHERE THE SHORTAGE IS.
WHAT ARE THE JOBS THAT
BUSINESSES ARE CURRENTLY IN NEED
OF AND WHAT SKILLS DO I NEED TO
FILL THOSE OCCUPATIONS?
BUT WE DON'T HAVE THE DETAILS
GRANULAR DATA THAT BUSINESSES
NEED.
ON THE LABOUR SIDE OF THINGS THE
GOVERNMENT RECENTLY ANNOUNCED
NEW MONEY FOR TRAINING PROGRAMS.
BUT IF YOU REALLY WANTED TO MAKE
IT IMPACTFUL WHAT YOU NEED IS
INFORMATION ON... OKAY, SO WHAT
SKILLS SHOULD I BE BUILDING?
AND WHICH PROGRAMS ARE GOING TO
HAVE THE MOST EFFECT IN TERMS OF
BOOSTING MY SKILLS?
AND THOSE ARE QUESTIONS WE DON'T
HAVE ANSWERS TO.

Steve says CAN YOU FOLLOW UP ON
THAT INSOFAR AS WHY IT'S SO
IMPORTANT THAT WE HAVE... AND
MAYBE THE QUESTION I SHOULD HAVE
ASKED ALREADY IS DAY-TA OR DA-TA.

Tavia says I KEEP FLIPPING BETWEEN THE TWO.

Steve says THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG.
YOU SAY TOMATO I SAY TOMATO.
WHY SO IMPORTANT FOR HAVE GOOD DATA?

The caption changes to "Tavia Grant. The Globe and Mail."

Tavia says I CAN SPEAK FROM A
JOURNALISTIC POINT OF VIEW YOU
RUN INTO CHALLENGES AS AN
ECONOMIST WHERE YOU HIT A WALL
AND THEN YOU CAN'T SHOW WHAT THE
TRENDS ARE.
AS A JOURNALIST WE WANT TO TELL
PEOPLE'S STORIES.
AND SO THERE ARE SO MANY TIMES
IN THE NEWS ROOM WHERE WE SET
OUT TO DO SOMETHING.
WE MIGHT SEE AN AMAZING
INVESTIGATION OR STORE ANY THE
U.S. AND THINK WE WOULD LIKE TO
KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON HERE AND WE
HIT A WALL.
WE CAN'T TELL OUR STORIES JUST
BASED ON ANECDOTES.
WE NEED SOME KIND OF BACKBONE
AND THAT'S THE DATA.
SOME I WOULD SAY SOME OF OUR BIG
PROJECTS IN THE LAST FEW YEARS
HAVE ARISEN OUT OF DATA GAPS.
SO ONE WAS A SIMPLE QUESTION I
HAD WHICH WAS WHAT'S THE MOST
DANGEROUS JOB IN CANADA.
THAT SHOULD BE EASY TO ANSWER.

Steve says HOW WOULD YOU MEASURE THAT?

The caption changes to "Tavia Grant, @TaviaGrant."

Tavia says SIX MONTHS LATER AND
THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS THAT THE
GLOBE SPENT, WE KNOW THAT ONE OF
THE HIGHEST RISK JOBS FOR
FATALITIES IS FISHING.

Steve says FISHING?

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Tavia says YES, THE FISHING
INDUSTRY.
SO WE HAD TO GO THROUGH MANY,
MANY HOOPS.
IN OW, THE U.S... IN AUSTRALIA,
THE U.S. AND U.K. THEY PRODUCE
FATALITY RATES AND WE DO NOT.

Steve says THEY STILL DON'T.

Tavia says WE STILL DON'T, NO.
THE OTHER BIG PROJECT WAS THE
UNFOUNDED SERIES.
THAT WAS ESSENTIALLY FILLING A
DATA GAP.
ROBIN DOLITTLE MY COLLEAGUE HAD
THIS AMAZING IDEA OF CANVASSING
873 POLICE FORCES ACROSS CANADA
TO FIND OUT WHAT THE RATES OF
UN-- FOUNDED RATE FOR SEXUAL
ASSAULT CASES AND SHE FOUND OUT
THAT IT WAS ONE IN FIVE THAT
WERE DISMISSED AS "BASELESS."
SO IT AFFECTS JOURNALISM WHICH
IN TURN EFFECTS THE PUBLIC'S
UNDERSTANDING OF CERTAIN ISSUES.
IT AFFECTS OUR ABILITY TO
UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER AND JUST
HAVING A COMMON GROUND FOR WHICH
WE CAN THEN HAVE LOTS OF
ARGUMENTS BUT LET'S START WITH A
COMMON BASE.

Steve says SUNIL, THE LACK OF
DATA OR THINGS YOU WANT TO KNOW
WHAT IMPACT DOES IT HAVE AT A
THINK TANK?

The caption changes to "Sunil Johal. Mowat Centre."

Sunil says VERY SIMPLE.
OUR GOVERNMENT SPENT HUNDREDS OF
MILLIONS OF DOLLARS ON PROGRAMS
ACROSS A RANGE OF AREAS.
IF THEY DON'T HAVE AREA TO
MEASURE WHERE NEEDS ARE GREATEST
OR WHERE WE HAVE ISSUES HOW CAN
WE EFFECTIVELY SPEND THAT MONEY?
HOW CAN WE PROVIDE VALUE TO
TAXPAYERS.
THIS RUNS THE GAMUT ACROSS
ALMOST EVERY AREA THAT
GOVERNMENT IS INVOLVED IN.
CRAIG MENTIONED SKILLS TRAINING.
IF WE THINK ABOUT EDUCATION...
IS THE $20-PLUS BILLION THAT THE
ONTARIO GOVERNMENT SPENDS IN THE
EDUCATION CENTRE BEING SPENT
EFFECTIVELY?
IF WE DON'T HAVE DATA TO MEASURE
THAT WE DON'T KNOW WHEN A
PROGRAM SHOULD BE TERMINATED AND
WE SHOULD MOVE TO A DIFFERENT
AREA OF FOCUS.
WE DON'T KNOW WHEN SOMETHING IS
WORKING WELL.
MAYBE WE SHOULD SCALE THAT UP
ACROSS THE COUNTRY OR MORE
BROADLY.
THIS IS A VERY FUNDAMENTAL
QUESTION.
NOT JUST FOR GOVERNMENTS.
WE ALSO HAVE THE PRIVATE SECTOR
RELIES ON THE DATA THAT
STATISTICS CANADA AND OTHER
ENTITIES GENERATE.
INDIVIDUAL ADVOCACY
ORGANIZATIONS.
I MEAN DATA HAS BEEN CALLED THE
NEW LIFE BLOOD OR OIL OF THE
ECONOMY.
SO I MEAN IF CANADA WANTS TO BE
A SUCCESS IN THE 21st CENTURY,
WE NEED TO BE A DATA POWER
HOUSE.
AND WE SEE PRIVATE SECTOR FIRMS
LIKE FACEBOOK AND AMAZON ARE SO
SUCCESSFUL BECAUSE THEY COLLECT
VAST AMOUNTS OF DATA AND THEY
KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT.
THE GOVERNMENT THAT IS ARE GOING
TO BE SUCCESSFUL AND THE
SOCIETIES THAT ARE GOING TO BE
SUCCESSFUL GOING FORWARD ARE
THOSE THAT ARE GOING TO BE ABLE
TO GENERATE THE RELEVANT KINDS
OF DATA THEY NEED AND ACTION IT.

Steve says WAYNE SMITH I WONDER
IF I COULD FOLLOW UP WITH YOU IN
THIS REGARD: IS PART OF THE
REASON WE DON'T HAVE ADEQUATE
DATA IS THAT IT'S TOO HARD TO
GET?
IN OTHER WORDS HOW ACCESSIBLE IS
THAT INFORMATION TO PEOPLE WHO
WANT IT?

The caption changes to "Good data, bad access?"

Wayne says I THINK... THE
INFORMATION IS GENERALLY
SPEAKING THE INFORMATION THAT'S
BEING DISCUSSED IS INFORMATION
THAT STATISTICS CANADA DOESN'T
HAVE AS OPPOSED TO DATA THAT WE
HAVE AND PEOPLE CAN'T ACCESS.
GENERALLY SPEAKING, ALL OF THE
INFORMATION FROM STATISTICS
CANADA IS IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN.
THERE'S NOTHING THAT'S HELD
BACK.
THERE'S NOTHING THAT CAN BE HELD
BACK.
WE MAKE DATA AVAILABLE FOR FREE
ON THE WEBSITE.
WE PROVIDE DATA TIMES TO
SCHOOLS, COLLEGES AND OTHER
PEOPLE WHO WANT TO USE THEM.
THOSE ONES ARE CONFIDENTIALIZED
BECAUSE WE ARE REQUIRED BY TO
PROTECT THE CONFIDENTIALITY OF
RESPONDENTS.
WE ALSO WORK WITH UNIVERSITIES
AND COLLEGES TO ENSURE THAT EVEN
THE ACTUAL DETAILS CONFIDENTIAL
DATA CAN BE ACCESSED IN
UNIVERSITIES ACROSS CANADA.
THERE'S MORE... THAT'S ON THE
SOCIAL SIDE.
ON THE BUSINESS SIDE WE HAVE A
SERIOUS PROBLEM IN CANADA THAT
THE RESTRICTIONS FOR
CONFIDENTIALITY UNDER THE
STATISTICS ACT MAKE IT VERY
DIFFICULT TO PUBLIC DETAILED
ECONOMIC DATA.
THAT'S A SERIOUS CONCERN.

Steve says WHY IS THAT A PROBLEM?

Wayne says YOU THINK ABOUT IT,
BASICALLY IN SOME CASES WE CAN'T
PUBLISH DATA BY INDUSTRY FOR
PROVINCE BECAUSE THERE ARE ONLY
TWO OR THREE BUSINESSES IN THAT
PROVINCE OF THAT TYPE.
SO, THEREFORE, IF YOU WANT TO DO
AN ANALYSIS BY INDUSTRY, IN
SMALLER PROVINCES, YOU ARE
SERIOUSLY HAMPERED.
AND ISSUES LIKE THE ENVIRONMENT
ARE INHERENTLY LOCAL.
I MEAN SO IF YOU CAN'T OBTAIN
INFORMATION ABOUT THE SCALE AND
ACTIVITIES OF BUSINESSES IN A
CITY, YOU CAN'T REALLY LINK OR
MAKE THE CONNECTION AS WELL AS
YOU OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO BETWEEN
ECONOMIC ACTIVITY AND THE
ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE.
SO IT'S NOT... I THINK THE ISSUE
IS MORE THE DATA EITHER DOESN'T
EXIST OR IT'S IN THE HANDS OF
PEOPLE WHO CHOOSE NOT TO MAKE IT
PUBLIC.
AND THAT'S AN ISSUE... ANOTHER
ISSUE ENTIRELY.

Steve says OKAY, JAN, LET ME
FOLLOW UP WITH YOU.
LET'S SAY THE DATA EXISTS AND
STATS CANADA HAS IT.
YOU DEAL IN THIS EVERY DAY.
HOW ACCESSIBLE IS THAT
INFORMATION TO PEOPLE WHO DON'T
WORK THERE?

Jan says THE DATA THAT STATS
CANADA PRODUCES HAVE BECOME MORE
AND MORE ACCESSIBLE.
WE ACCESS DATA FROM THE CENSUS.
WE CAN ACCESS MICROFILES.
WE CAN GO IN THE RESEARCH DATA
CENTRE AND USE THOSE DATA.
SO I THINK THAT STATS CANADA HAS
MADE PROGRESS.
THERE'S PROBABLY, YOU KNOW, A
WAY TO GO.
BUT THEY'VE MADE PROGRESS IN
MAKING THOSE DATA AVAILABLE.
BUT I WANT TO GO BACK TO
SOMETHING THAT WAYNE SAID WHICH
IS A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT WHICH
IS THAT THERE ARE DATA THAT
COULD BE MORE USABLE AND MORE
AVAILABLE IF WE LOOKED AT
DIFFERENT METHODS OF CREATING
DATA.
THERE ARE A LOT OF
ADMINISTRATIVE DATA SOURCES THAT
CAN BE TURNED INTO OFFICIAL
STATISTICS THAT CAN INFORM
POLICY AND HELP MAKE COMMUNITIES
RUN BETTER AND WORK BETTER.
AND THERE'S A MODERNIZATION
PROJECT GOING ON AT STATS CANADA
RIGHT NOW TO DO EXPERIMENTATION
WITH HOW WE CAN USE DATA THAT
ARE COLLECTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE
PURPOSES BUT CAN BE TURNED INTO
OFFICIAL STATISTICS.
THERE'S A NEW PROGRAM AROUND
HOUSING STATISTICS.
THERE'S A CROWD SOURCING
EXPERIMENT AROUND CANNABIS
PRICES, FOR EXAMPLE.
AND SO I THINK THAT WHAT WE NEED
THE GOVERNMENT TO DO IS TO
SUPPORT STATISTICS CANADA AND
OTHER AGENCIES TO USE NEW
METHODS WHICH ARE BEING USED IN
OTHER COUNTRIES AND ARE ALSO
BEING USED IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR
LIKE FACEBOOK.
ALTHOUGH I'M NOT SURE I AGREE
THAT THEY'RE ACTUALLY DOING THE
BEST JOB.
BUT WE NEED OFFICIAL STATISTICS
TO MAKE ADMINISTRATIVE DATA AND
BIG DATA ACCURATE AND USABLE.

Steve says WHAT WOULD IT TAKE TO
MAKE THAT HAPPEN?

The caption changes to "Jan Kestle, @statslady."

Jan says ONE THING THAT'S REALLY
IMPORTANT IS THAT WE REALLY
PRESERVE THINGS LIKE THE CENSUS.
THE CENSUS IS THE BENCHMARK
AGAINST WHICH ADMINISTRATIVE
RECORDS AROUND HEALTH CARE OR
SECURITY OR SOCIAL SERVICES CAN
BE USED AND PUT IN CONTEXT AND
MADE ACTIONABLE.

Steve says IF MEMORY SERVES, THE
FIRST THING THE TRUDEAU
GOVERNMENT DID WAS RESTORE THE
LONG-FORM CENSUS, DID IT NOT?

Jan says YES, CORRECT.
IT'S IMPORTANT THAT CANADIANS
RECOGNIZE THAT.
IT'S ONE SYMBOL.
BUT WE DO NEED DATA TO MAKE GOOD
DECISIONS AND MAKE PEOPLE'S
LIVES BETTER.
THE OTHER THING IS CANADA IS A
FEDERALIST ORGANIZATION.
THE PROVINCES HAVE DATA.
THE GOVERNMENT HAS DATA.
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS DATA.
DATA NEED TO BE SHARED BETWEEN
DEPARTMENTS AND NEED TO BE
SHARED ACROSS THE DIFFERENT
JURISDICTIONS.
AND WE NEED A STRATEGY FOR DOING
THAT.
WE CAN'T JUST LET IT SORT OF
HAPPEN WILLY-NILLY.
IT'S TOO HARD.

Steve says LET ME ASK TAVIA ABOUT
THAT.
PRESUMABLY IN YOUR JOB YOU TRY
TO GET INFORMATION OUT OF THE
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, PROVINCIAL
GOVERNMENT, AGENCIES, BOARDS,
WHATEVER.
HOW ACCESSIBLE IS THAT TO YOU TO
AS A REPORTER PROBING FORTH?

Tavia says I THINK REPORTERS ARE
ROUTINELY BANGING THEIR HEADS
AGAINST THE WALL.

Steve says BECAUSE?

Tavia says IT CAN BE LONG.
SOMETIMES WE JUST HAVE TO GIVE
UP ON CERTAIN PROJECTS.
SOMETIMES YOU GET TO THE END THE
ROAD AND WE JUST CAN'T ACCESS IT.

Steve says BECAUSE THEY WON'T
GIVE IT TO YOU?

Tavia says YES, YEAH, SOMETIMES
WHEN WE CAN'T ACCESS YOU COULD
DO A WHOLE OTHER SHOW ABOUT
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUESTS
AND THINGS LIKE THAT.
OR COURT RECORDS.
THERE ARE SO MANY AREAS THAT WE
TRY TO GO DOWN A CERTAIN ROAD
AND WE JUST CAN'T.

Steve says CAN YOU GIVE ME AN
EXAMPLE OF THAT?

The caption changes to "Tavia Grant, @TaviaGrant."

Tavia says LET ME THINK OF...
WELL, I'LL THINK OF ONE DATA GAP
THAT I RAN INTO BECAUSE IT WAS
JUST LAST WEEK.
I WAS TRYING TO DO A BOOK
REVIEW.
I WAS WRITING ABOUT ASBESTOS AND
THE IMPACTS OF HEALTH.
I WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THE
BURDEN OF DISEASE.
I WENT TO STATS CAN'S WEBSITE...
THIS ISN'T THEIR FAULT... BUT
QUEBEC DOES NOT OPT INTO THE
REPORTING OF THE CANCER RATES.

Steve says RIGHT.

Tavia says THEREFORE, I CAN'T GET
A NATIONAL PICTURE AND I DON'T
REALLY KNOW THE SEVERITY WHICH
MEAN THAT IS RESEARCHERS WILL
HAVE A MUCH HARDER TIME IN THE
FUTURE PREDICTING WHAT THESE
BURDENS WILL LOOK LIKE.

Steve says ASBESTOS IS QUEBEC
AFTER ALL, IT'S QUEBEC-BASED.

Tavia says YES AND WE KNOW THERE
ARE MORE CASES IN QUEBEC THAN
ANYWHERE ELSE.
WE RUN INTO THESE THINGS ALL THE TIME.
IT'S NOT JUST A JOURNALIST ISSUE.
IT'S REALLY A PUBLIC ISSUE.
SO THERE ARE CERTAINLY PARENTS
AND THERE'S ORDINARY PEOPLE ALL
THE TIME WHO ALSO HAVE THESE STRUGGLES.

Steve says I WAS GOING TO SAY CAN
YOU MAKE A BIT OF A LIST FOR US,
CRAIG, ABOUT WHO NEEDS ACCESS TO
INFORMATION AND ROUTINELY HAS A
HARD TIME GETTING IT?

Craig says HOW ABOUT EVERYBODY?

[LAUGHTER]

Craig says NO, SERIOUSLY.
IF DELOITTE WAS DOING A PIECE OF
WORK WITH THE GOVERNMENT LOOKING
AT HOW WE COULD HARNESS A.I. AND
MACHINE LEARNING TO BASICALLY
INCREASE THE EFFICIENCY OF
GOVERNMENT AND WE HAD A GREAT
BRAINSTORMING SESSION ABOUT WHAT
WAS POSSIBLE. BUT ALMOST
IMMEDIATELY WE RAN INTO AN
ISSUE THAT THE DEPARTMENTS
INTERNAL INTO THE PROVINCIAL
GOVERNMENT COULDN'T SHARE THE
DATA BETWEEN THEMSELVES TO
ACTUALLY UNLOCK THE USE.
SO I MEAN ONE OF THE CHALLENGES
THAT WE HAVE OR ONE OF THE
IRONIES THAT WE HAVE IS THE
COMPUTATIONAL POWER... OUR
ABILITY TO USE DATA TO IDENTIFY
TRENDS AND DEVELOP ANALYSIS HAS
GONE UP ENORMOUSLY.
AND THE DATA ISN'T AVAILABLE TO
ACTUALLY UNLOCK THE POTENTIAL,
RIGHT.
SO WE COULD DO SO MUCH IN TERMS
OF IMPROVING EFFICIENCY OF
GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS OR
INCREASING THE IMPACT THEY'RE
HAVING OR MAKE THEM MORE COST
EFFICIENT.
BUSINESSES DESPERATELY NEED DATA
IN TERMS OF RUNNING THEIR
BUSINESS AND MAKING STRATEGIC
PLANS.
I REMEMBER WHEN LONG-FORM CENSUS
WAS CUT, I HAD A POLITICIAN ASK
ME, YOU KNOW, WELL, YOUR FIRM
DOESN'T USE THE CENSUS, DOES IT?
AND IT'S LIKE OF COURSE WE DO.
WE USE IT TO IDENTIFY WHERE
WE'RE GOING TO LOCATE OFFICES
AND WHAT MARKETS NEED SUPPORT.
AND SO BUSINESSES NEED
INFORMATION.
AND IF YOU LOOK AT BUSINESSES
TODAY, THEY MEASURE EVERYTHING,
RIGHT?
BECAUSE THEY KNOW WHAT MEASURE
GETS DONE.
THEY MEASURE FOR EFFICIENCY.
AND AT THE END OF THE DAY, IF
YOU CAN'T... IF YOU DON'T HAVE
ACCESS TO THE DATA, YOU'RE NOT
GOING TO GET THE BEST OUTCOMES.
THE SAME IS TRUE FOR POLICY IN
GOVERNMENT.
IF YOU DON'T HAVE THE DATA,
YOU'RE BASICALLY JUDGING YOUR
POLICIES ON WHAT YOU THINK IS
GOING TO HAPPEN.
ONE THING WE KNOW FROM ECONOMICS
IS THERE ARE A LOT OF UNINTENDED
CONSEQUENCES WHEN YOU DO
SOMETHING.
YOU REALLY WANT ROBUST
ANALYTICAL WORK DONE ON YOUR
POLICIES.

Steve says THE MOWAT CENTRE WAS
DESIGNED IN THE FIRST PLACE AND
WAS CREATED BY THE PREVIOUS
LIBERAL GOVERNMENT TO DO A LOT
OF THAT DEEP DIVING INTO
DIFFICULT ANALYTICAL ISSUES.
AND COME UP WITH POLICY
PRESCRIPTIONS AND DO THE STUDIES
AND ALL THAT HEAVY LIFTING.
HAVE YOU FOUND YOURSELF TRYING
TO GET STUDIES DONE ON VARIOUS
ISSUES SO YOU CAN PRESENT
EVIDENCE TO GOVERNMENT AND
STAKEHOLDERS BUT YOU COULDN'T
GET THERE BECAUSE YOU COULDN'T
GET THE DATA?

Sunil says IT HAPPENS ALL THE
TIME.
I MEAN, ONE OF OUR BIG AREAS OF
FOCUS IS INTERGOVERNMENTAL
RELATIONS.
IS ONTARIO GETTING A FAIR DEAL
FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN
TERMS OF EXPENDITURES?
THE PROVINCIAL ECONOMIC ACCOUNTS
WHICH ARE GENERATED BY
STATISTICS CANADA, I BELIEVE THE
LAST TIME THEY WERE UPDATED WAS
IT 2011 OR 2012.
THEY WERE JUST UPDATE ADD YEAR
OR TWO AGO.
THERE IS ABOUT A SIX-YEAR GAP...
SIX OR SEVEN-YEAR GAP.
WELL, WE DIDN'T KNOW HOW MUCH
MONEY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WAS
SPENDING OR COLLECTING IN EACH
PROVINCE ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
IT MAKES IT REALLY HARD TO
ANALYSE ARE CERTAIN PROVINCES
PERHAPS BEING TREATED UNFAIRLY?
ARE THEY NOT GETTING THEIR FAIR
SHARE OF FEDERAL SPENDING?

Steve says HOW CAN THAT BASIC
INFORMATION NOT BE AVAILABLE?
THAT'S SHOCKING.

The caption changes to "Sunil Johal, @JohalSunil."

Sunil says I AM NOT SURE.
AND WE KIND OF CONTINUALLY CHECK
IN WITH STATS CAN.
THEY SAY DON'T WORRY IT'S COMING
SOON.
I THINK IT WAS 2017 WE FINALLY
SAW THE NEW RELEASE OF DATA AND
THAT WAS GREAT.
WE HAD BEEN WRITING REPORTS FOR
THREE OR FOUR YEARS NOW BASED ON
5-YEAR-OLD DATA.
IT COMES UP ON A WHOLE RANGE OF
DIFFERENT REPORTS.
A VERY SIMPLE EXAMPLE RIGHT NOW
IS THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF TALK
ABOUT THE GIG ECONOMY, PEOPLE
WORKING FOR UBER.
WE HAVE NO IDEA HOW MANY PEOPLE
ARE ACTUALLY DOING THAT.
TO STATS CANADA'S CREDIT THEY
PRODUCE ADD SURVEY THAT SHOWED
THAT VERY FEW PEOPLE ARE WORKING
IN THE GIG ECONOMY IN CANADA.
THAT PUNCTURED THE BALLOON A
LITTLE BIT OF ALL THE HYPE
AROUND EVERYBODY IS DOING THIS,
THIS IS THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE.
THE CHALLENGE IS WE HAVE A
BUDGET RESTRICTION AT STATS
CANADA.
THEY CAN'T DO EVERYTHING FOR
EVERYBODY.
AND PRIORITIES CONTINUALLY
CHANGE.
THE INNOVATION ECONOMY IS BIG
NOW.
THE DIGITAL ECONOMY.
THEY'RE STARTING TO MOVE INTO
THAT SPACE.
BUT WHAT WILL BE LEFT BEHIND AND
THOSE WILL BE IMPORTANT ISSUES
TO SOME PEOPLE.
WE HAVE TO START THINKING MORE
CREATIVELY ABOUT HOW WE CAN USED
ADMINISTRATIVE DATA, PARTNER
WITH THE PRIVATE SECTOR, LOOK
FOR OTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION
THAT CAN FEED THE BEAST
ESSENTIALLY.
BECAUSE YOU'VE GOT SO MANY
STAKEHOLDERS WHO WANT THAT
INFORMATION BUT MAYBE CAN'T GET
IT OR A AT A MINIMUM CAN'T GET
IT AS FREQUENTLY AS THEY WANT.
IT'S UPDATED VERY IRREGULARLY.

Steve says LET'S DO A LITTLE
COMPARING AND CONTRASTING WITH
WAYNE SMITH IN OTTAWA.
IN TERMS OF THE INFORMATION THAT
A CANADIAN CAN GET FROM HIS OR
HER GOVERNMENTS... FEDERAL OR
PROVINCIAL... HOW DOES THAT
COMPARE TO, LET'S SAY WHAT AN
AMERICAN CITIZEN CAN GET FROM
HIS OR HER NATIONAL OR STATE
GOVERNMENTS.

Wayne says WELL, THE UNITED
STATES STATISTICAL SYSTEM IS AN
INTERESTING CREATURE.
IT'S HUGE.
IT'S VERY DECENTRALIZED.
THERE'S A VAST AMOUNT OF
STATISTICAL ACTIVITY GOING ON IN
THE UNITED STATES.
SOME OF IT IS DIRECTLY THROUGH
GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS, THE U.S.
BUREAU OF THE CENSUS, FOR
EXAMPLE.
OTHER PIECES THROUGH MAJOR
UNIVERSITY-BASED RESEARCH
ORGANIZATIONS.
THE... THEIR EFFICIENCY IS
TERRIBLE BUT THE SCOPE IS HUGE.
[LAUGHTER]
SO BY COMPARISON, I COULD RUN
THE U.S. CENSUS AND RUN OURS ON
THE SAVINGS.
THIS IS A GUESS BUT I'M THINKING
I COULD.
SO WE HAVE... WE STILL HAVE TO
PROVIDE THE COMPARISON BECAUSE
THE U.S. SYSTEM IS DATA RICH.
THERE ARE JUST SO MANY
ORGANIZATIONS OUT THERE
PRODUCING THE STUFF THAT IT'S
VERY RICH.
THERE'S NO OTHER COUNTRY
COMPARABLE IN THE WORLD THAT HAS
THE SCOPE OF DATA THAT'S
AVAILABLE FROM VARIOUS SOURCES.
IT'S FINDING IT I GUESS AND
USING IT IS A CHALLENGE.

Steve says JUST TO CONFIRM, THEY
DO MORE AND HAVE MORE PUBLICLY
AVAILABLE, IS THAT RIGHT?

Wayne says THEY'RE VERY
RESTRICTIVE.
THEY DON'T ALLOW THE DATA...
THEY REALLY PREVENT GOVERNMENT
DEPARTMENTS FROM TRYING TO
MONOPOLIZE THE DATA OR FROM
CHARGING FOR IT.
THEY REALLY RUN A VERY OPEN AND
VERY FREE SYSTEM IN THE UNITED STATES.

Steve says JAN, OBVIOUSLY YOU TRY
TO GET INFORMATION FROM STATS
CANADA AND OTHER SOURCES HERE IN
CANADA.
DO YOU ALSO TRY TO GET INFO OUT
OF THE U.S.?

Jan says ALMOST HALF OF OUR
BUSINESS IS IN THE U.S. WITH
U.K. CUSTOMERS.

Steve says COMPARE AND CONTRAST
IF YOU WOULD.

Jan says IT'S DIFFERENT.
THE U.S. DATA HAS ALWAYS BEEN
MADE FREELY AVAILABLE.
CANADA HAS MOVED MORE TOWARD
THAT APPROACH MORE RECENTLY.
BUT ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BORDER
WE COLLABORATE BOTH WITH
GOVERNMENTS AND OTHER PRIVATE
SECTOR ORGANIZATIONS.
LIKE LAST YEAR, OUR ORGANIZATION
PROVIDED DATA ANALYTICS TO
DRIVE BUSINESSES TO 2,000
COMPANIES IN CANADA AND THE U.S.
AND WE TOOK THOSE DATA FROM 83
SOURCES.
AND WE INTEGRATED THEM AND WE
ADDED VALUE TO THEM SO THAT
BUSINESSES COULD GET AT THEM
QUICKLY.
AND I THINK PART OF THE SOLUTION
IS MORE STRATEGIC COLLABORATION
BETWEEN DIFFERENT LEVELS OF
GOVERNMENT AND THE PRIVATE
SECTOR AND MORE PUBLIC AWARENESS
ABOUT HOW THE DECISIONS GET
MADE.
SO WE CAN GET DATA IN DIFFERENT
WAYS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE
BORDER.
BUT IN CANADA, WE NEED TO BE
SURE THAT THERE'S AN AGENDA
PROCESS TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THE
MONEY WILL BE SPENT ON.
EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT THE
FACT THAT THERE'S BUDGET CUTS
AND THERE ARE LIMITED RESOURCES.
BUT IT'S THE GOVERNMENT THAT
DECIDES WHAT WILL BE COLLECTED.
STATS CANADA'S MANDATE IS TO USE
BEST PRACTICES, COLLECT,
RELEASE, MAKE THE DATA
AVAILABLE.
BUT THE MINISTER RESPONSIBLE...
I.E., THE GOVERNMENT... GETS TO
DECIDE THE PRIORITIES.

Steve says SHOULD THAT CHANGE?

Jan says I THINK THAT WE NEED A
PROCESS FOR THE ORGANIZATION,
THE PRESS, THE THINK TANKS THE
VARIOUS PRIVATE SECTOR FIRMS.
STATS CANADA AS AN AGENCY TO
REALLY SET THE DATA AGENDA.
THERE IS A CONSULTATION GOING ON
RIGHT NOW WITH THE FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT... THAT THE FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT IS LEADING AROUND A
CANADIAN DATA STRATEGY.
BUT I GET CONCERNED THAT IT'S
MORE ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY, IT'S
MORE ABOUT THE PRIVACY AND
THE ENCRYPTION AND THE
ANONYMIZATION.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CONTENT?
WHAT DO WE NEED?
WE NEED AN INITIATIVE AND A
LEADERSHIP AND I WOULD STILL
COUNT ON STATISTICS CANADA TO BE
A PART OF THAT.
BUT THIS IS A POLITICAL DECISION
NOT A STATISTICAL DECISION.

Steve says WAYNE, I'M REFERRING
FROM THE NODDING THAT I SEE THAT
YOU AGREE THAT THESE DECISIONS
OUGHT TO BE BEYOND POLITICS.

Wayne says I AGREE.
I MEAN OUR SYSTEM SUFFERS
TREMENDOUSLY FROM WHAT'S THE
ISSUE OF THE DAY.
A LOT OF THE... THE FUNDING HAS
COMING TO STATISTICS CANADA OVER
THE LAST FEW YEARS SINCE THE END
OF THE 1990s, ACTUALLY.
IT'S GENERALLY BEEN TIED TO THIS
IS THE CURRENT POLICY ISSUE.
AND SO WE'RE GOING TO HAVE
CANNABIS STATISTICS AND WE'RE
GOING TO LOOK AT FOREIGN
OWNERSHIP OF RESIDENTIAL
PROPERTY.
AND MONEY IS GIVEN TO STATISTICS
CANADA FOR THAT.
BUT THE KIND OF DATA... THAT'S
APPLIED RESEARCH.
THE KIND OF DATA FOR GENERALIZED
SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH WHERE YOU
CAN ACTUALLY DISCOVER NEW ISSUES
THAT HAVEN'T BEEN IDENTIFIED YET
AND DIVE DOWN ON THE ISSUES THAT
HELP YOU BETTER UNDERSTAND THEM
IS WHAT'S NOT BEING PRODUCED IS
WHAT'S CUT OUT OF THE BUDGET IN
THE 2000s.
AND IT NEEDS TO BE RESTORED AND
PROTECTED SO THAT OVER TIME WE
ACTUALLY HAVE A SOLID BASE OF
STATISTICAL INFORMATION THAT'S
EASILY AND READILY AVAILABLE AND
THAT CAN EXPLORE... GENUINELY
EXPLORE... IN DEPTH THE ISSUES
WE'RE FACING IN CANADA.

Steve says OKAY.
WE HAVE LESS THAN 10 MINUTES TO
GO HERE.
AND I WANT TO PUT THIS ISSUE ON
THE TABLE FOR SOME CONSIDERABLE
DISCUSSION.
THAT IS, THERE MAY HAVE BEEN A
TIME BOTH IN THIS PROVINCE AND
MAYBE NATIONALLY, WHEN
POLITICIANS WANTED GOOD,
ACCURATE INFORMATION UPON WHICH
TO BASE THEIR DECISIONS.
I DON'T KNOW IF WE LIVE IN THAT
WORLD ANY MORE.
WE MAY LIVE IN A WORLD NOW WHERE
THINGS ARE SO IDEOLOGICAL,
POLITICIANS AREN'T THAT
INTERESTED IN GETTING
EMPIRICALLY PROVABLE FACTS THEY
JUST WANT TO DO WHAT THEY WANT
TO DO BECAUSE THEY WANT TO DO
THEM.
TAVIA, WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT THAT?

The caption changes to "Evidence-based policymaking."

Tavia says WELL, FIRST OF ALL
THAT CAN BLOW UP IN YOUR FACE.
WHEN WE BASE DECISIONS EITHER
FAULTY DATA OR NO DATA, THE
EXAMPLE THAT I AM THINKING OF
THAT YOU WOULD PROBABLY REMEMBER
IS THAT WHEN WE WERE DETERMINING
THAT THERE WAS A MASSIVE LABOUR
SHORTAGE IN CANADA WHICH WAS AT
ODDS WITH FEDERAL STATISTICS
CANADA DATA, IT TURNED OUT THAT
THE SOURCE THAT THE THEN FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT WAS USING WAS KIJIJI.
THOSE ADS WERE NOT A RELIABLE
SOURCE.
THE WHOLE PREMISE OF A LABOUR
SHORTAGE WAS FAULTY.
BUT IT WAS THE JUSTIFICATION TO
BRING IN MANY, MANY TEMPORARY
FOREIGN WORKERS.
THERE IS VERY REAL WORLD
IMPLICATIONS WHEN YOU BASE
THINGS ON UNRELIABLE DATA OR
NONE AT ALL.
AND THEN THE OTHER THING I WOULD
SAY IS FISCAL CONSIDERATION.
SO IF YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT YOUR
BUDGET AND YOU WANT TO SPEND
MONEY AS WISELY AS POSSIBLE, YOU
WANT TO TARGET PROGRAMS AND YOU
WANT TO MEASURE THE IMPACT OF
PROGRAMS.
AND SO I THINK THIS WILL HELP
PEOPLE MAKE SMARTER DECISIONS
THAT, IN TURN, ARE BETTER FOR
THE ECONOMY AND BETTER FOR OUR
BUDGET.

Steve says DO YOU SEE, SUNIL,
LESS INTEREST BY THE POLITICIANS
IN THE REPORTS THAT YOU PRODUCE
BECAUSE THEY ALREADY KNOW WHAT
THEY WANT TO DO AND DON'T BOTHER
ME WITH THE FACTS, AS IT WERE?

Sunil says THEY'RE ALWAYS
INTERESTED IN OUR REPORTS.

[LAUGHTER]

Sunil says I CAN'T SPEAK FOR OTHERS.
I MEAN I THINK ONE OF THE
CHALLENGES INSIDE GOVERNMENT IS
THERE IS VERY LITTLE MONEY SPENT
ON PROGRAM EVALUATION.
IT DEPENDS ON THE NUMBERS BUT
YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT 0.1, 0.2 percent
OF OVERALL PROGRAM EXPENDITURES
ACTUALLY MEASURE THE
EFFECTIVENESS OF PROGRAMS.

Steve says SHOULD BE HIGHER?

Sunil says SHOULD BE MUCH HIGHER.
WE'RE IN A WORLD IN ONTARIO NOW
WHERE THE GOVERNMENT WANTS TO
GET OUT OF DEFICIT AND WE'RE
TALKING 10, 12 BILLION dollars IN
SAVINGS OVER THE NEXT THREE OR
FOUR YEARS, HOW ARE YOU GOING TO
DECIDE WHICH PROGRAMS AREN'T
WORKING AND YOU SHOULD TERMINATE
AND HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DECIDE
WHICH ONES ARE WORKING AND YOU
SHOULD KEEP.
THE ONLY WAY IS ACCURATE
MEASURING.
THE PROBLEM IS THERE ARE A LOT
OF DISINCENTIVES TO EFFECTIVE
EVALUATION INSIDE GOVERNMENTS.
NO GOVERNMENT WANTS TO PUT THEIR
HAND UP AND SAY GUESS WHAT THAT
MULTIMILLION DOLLAR PROGRAM WE
ANNOUNCED THREE YEARS AGO HAD NO
EFFECT.
THAT'S A POLITICAL LOSER.
BUREAUCRATS ALSO DON'T WANT TO
BE IDENTIFIED ON WORKING ON
PROGRAM THAT IS DON'T WORK.
HOW DO WE PUSH PAST THOSE
DISINCENTIVES TO EVALUATE
PROGRAMS.
WHAT'S WORKING AND WHAT'S NOT.
THAT'S A HUGE CHALLENGE FOR
GOVERNMENTS IN CANADA GOING
FORWARD.
UNDERSTANDING THAT ISSUE OF WHAT
WORKS AND WHAT DOESN'T MORE
EFFECTIVELY.

Steve says CRAIG, ADMITTEDLY I
MAY BE ASKING FOR INFORMED
SPECULATION HERE AS OPPOSED TO
WHETHER YOU HAVE THE HARD DATA
TO RELY ON.
BUT IF YOU HAD TO GUESS, WHAT
PERCENTAGE OF GOVERNMENT
PROGRAMS THAT COME FORWARD COME
FORWARD AFTER A DEEP, THOROUGH
ANALYTICAL DIVE INTO THE NUMBERS
AND CRUNCHING THE DATA AS
OPPOSED TO THIS IS WHAT OUR
PARTY'S BASE WANTS AND,
THEREFORE, WE'RE GOING TO DO IT?

Craig says YOU CAN'T JUDGE, RIGHT?
YOU DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH IS
RIGOROUS... WHAT POLICIES HAVE
BEEN RIGOROUSLY EVALUATED AND
THEN WHICH ONES HAVEN'T.
BUT I AM CONCERNED ABOUT THE
TREND NOT JUST IN CANADA BUT
GLOBALLY AROUND THE RISE IN
POPULISM AND INCREASING DISTRUST
OF SORT OF ELITES THAT ARE
TALKING ABOUT, YOU KNOW,
EVIDENCE-BASED POLICIES.
I THINK THAT IN THE WAKE OF
08-09, THE DEEP RECESSION AND
THE FINANCIAL CRISIS, I THINK
THERE'S BEEN A LOSS OF
CONFIDENCE IN PUBLIC POLICY
THINK TANKS, IN RECOMMENDATIONS
THAT ARE COMING.
AND SO I THINK THAT THERE'S A
SENSE THAT EVIDENCE-BASED POLICY
ISN'T AS IMPORTANT TODAY.
AND SO THIS ISN'T JUST ABOUT
GOVERNMENT, RIGHT?
SO THERE IS THE ISSUE.
I THINK IT'S A VERY LEGITIMATE
ISSUE THAT IF YOU MEASURE
SOMETHING AND TRACK SOMETHING,
IT INCREASES TRANSPARENCY AND
ACCOUNTABILITY AND THAT'S
SOMETHING WE WANT.
BUT THERE COULD BE A POLITICAL
DISINCENTIVE TO HAVE THAT.
BECAUSE IT CAN HAVE POLITICAL
CONSEQUENCES IF THE PROGRAM YOU
ANNOUNCED DOESN'T HAVE THE
DESIRED IMPACT.
BUT AT THE SAME TIME, IT ISN'T
CLEAR TO ME THAT THE PUBLIC
ACTUALLY IS DEMANDING
EVIDENCE-BASED POLICY MAKING.
AND THAT INCREASINGLY THERE'S A
SENSE OF DISTRUST AROUND, YOU
KNOW, WHAT ANALYSTS AND POLICY
WONKS HAVE BEEN SAYING FOR
YEARS.
BECAUSE THE OUTCOMES PEOPLE HAVE
BEEN GETTING HAVEN'T MATCHED
WHAT THEY WERE PROMISED.
AND SO I THINK IT'S UNDERMINED
THE CONFIDENCE AND SUPPORT AND
SO I THINK THAT THIS IS A VERY
FUNDAMENTAL SHIFT.

Steve says HOW MANY TIMES WHEN
YOU WERE CHIEF STATISTICS FOR
CANADA WOULD YOU HAVE HAD AN
ARGUMENT WITH A CIVIL SERVANT OR
SAY A MINISTER'S POLITICAL
STAFFER WHO WANTED TO DO ONE
THING AND YOU HAD... YOU
ACTUALLY HAD THE HARD CRUNCHED
DATA SUGGESTING, YOU KNOW, IF
YOU DO THAT THAT'S NOT GOING TO
WORKINGS HERE'S THE DIRECTION
YOU MAY BE OUGHT TO RETHINK?

Wayne says I'M NOT REALLY AT THE
TABLE FOR THE DISCUSSIONS.
I CAN TELL YOU, FOR EXAMPLE,
THAT FOR THE DECISION REGARDING
THE 2011 CENSUS, I REMEMBER A
CONVERSATION WITH A SENIOR
CONSERVATIVE MINISTER AT THE
TIME WHERE HE SAID HE AGREED
WITH ME THAT IT WAS LOUSY POLICY
TO MAKE... TO GO TO A VOLUNTARY
CENSUS BUT IT WAS GREAT POLITICS
AND IT WAS CLEAR ON WHICH SIDE
OF THE LINE HE WAS.
HE FELT HE WANTED TO BE.
SO THERE ARE OFTEN... WHAT WE DO
IS WE SUPPLY THE DATA TO THE
POLICY ANALYSTS AND THE POLICY
DEPARTMENT.
AND AT THE END OF THE DAY WE
DON'T GET TO HEAR THE ADVICE.
SO WE DON'T KNOW WHERE... IF
THINGS APPEAR TO BE INCONSISTENT
WITH THE DATA IN OUR EYES WE
DON'T KNOW WHERE IT WENT OFF THE
RAILS.
WHETHER IT WENT OFF THE RAILS AT
THE LEVEL OF POLICY ANALYSIS IN
A DEPARTMENT OR OFF THE RAILS IN
COMMUNICATING THE ISSUES TO THE
MINISTER OR WHETHER THE MINISTER
SIMPLY OVERRODE THE
RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE
BUREAUCRATS.
I DO KNOW THAT THIS GOVERNMENT
IN PARTICULAR ALSO SET OUT VERY
INITIALLY TO SAY THAT FOR EVERY
ONE OF OUR INITIATIVES WE WANT
TO HAVE INDICATORS THAT WE WILL
TRACK.
AND SO THAT WE CAN TELL WHETHER
WE'RE ACCOMPLISHING THINGS AND
THEY WANT TO MAKE THEM PUBLIC.
THAT WAS AN INTENTION AT ONE
POINT OF THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT.
IT DOESN'T SEEM TO HAVE
HAPPENED.
BUT CERTAINLY THE IDEA WAS
MERITORIOUS.
DETERMINING UP FRONT HOW DO YOU
DETERMINE THE POLICY WORKS.
ANALYSING THE DATA, AND MAKING
IT PUBLIC WOULD BE A VERY GOOD
START ON A BETTER SYSTEM.

Steve says JEN, APROPOS OF WHAT
CRAIG WAS JUST SAYING AT THE END
OF THE DAY IT'S THE POLITICIANS
THAT GET ELECTED AND AT THE END
OF THE DAY THEY HAVE TO BE
ACCOUNTABLE TO THEIR DECISIONS.
IF THEY WANT TO DISREGARD DATA
AND GO WITH EITHER THEIR GUT OR
WHAT THEY THINK THEIR BASE WANTS
OR WHATEVER, AREN'T THEY
ENTITLED TO DO THAT?

Jan says I DON'T KNOW ABOUT ENTITLED.
THE QUESTION IS WHAT'S GOOD FOR
THE COUNTRY.
TAKE A SPECIFIC EXAMPLE LIKE
HEALTH CARE AS THE POPULATION
AGES AND PEOPLE ARE LIVING ALONE
AND WE NEED TO PLAN FOR
LONG-TERM CARE AND WE NEED TO
PLAN FOR PEOPLE AGING IN PLACE.
AND WE NEED TO KNOW HOW MONEY
GETS SPENT BETWEEN HOSPITALS AND
SOCIAL SERVICES.
HOW CAN POLITICIANS NOT WANT TO
HAVE A DATA-DRIVEN APPROACH TO
THE NEXT 20 YEARS OF WHAT'S
GOING TO HAPPEN IN CANADA?

Steve says IT MIGHT HELP THEIR
RE-ELECTION CHANCES IF THEY
FOLLOW WHAT THE BASE WANTS.

Jan says I WOULD SUGGEST THEY
MAKE THEIR CHOICES ON WHO IS
GOING TO SUPPORT EVIDENCE-BASED
DECISION-MAKING.
YES, IT'S A BUZZWORD.
BUT WE'RE NOT GOING TO PROSPER
IF WE SUCCUMB TO POPULISM THAT
SAYS WE DON'T NEED THE FACTS.
WE NEED THE FACTS.
AND CANADIANS HAVE TO UNDERSTAND
THAT DATA MAKES A DIFFERENCE TO
THE QUALITY OF THEIR LIVES.
AND HOLDS THE POLITICIANS ACCOUNTABLE.

Steve says WELL... AND THIS ISN'T
JUST A THING FOR POPULISM.
WE HAVE SEEN GOVERNMENTS OF THE
LEFT AS WELL MAKE DECISIONS THAT
ARE IDEOLOGICALLY BASED AND NOT
BASED IN FACT.

Jan says POPULISM ISN'T RIGHT OR
LEFT IT CAN COME FROM BOTH DIRECTIONS.

The caption changes to "Producer: Meredith Martin, @MeredithMartin."

Steve says THAT IS INDEED TRUE.
FRIENDS, THAT IS OUR TIME.
I WANT TO THANK EVERYBODY FOR
JOINING US, WAYNE SMITH, GOOD
OF YOU TO JOIN US, THE FORMER
CHIEF STATISTICIAN FOR CANADA
IN THE NATION'S CAPITAL.
AND AROUND HERE IN OUR TORONTO
STUDIOS, CRAIG ALEXANDER, JAN
KESTLE, SUNIL JOHAL, AND TAVIA
GRANT WHO MADE HER TELEVISION
DEBUT ON TVO TONIGHT.
AND YOU SEEM LIKE IT WAS OKAY.

Tavia says IT WAS!
I'M STILL SITTING HERE.

Steve says VERY GOOD. GREAT TO
HAVE YOU ALL ON TVO TONIGHT.
THANK SO MUCH.

All the guests say THANK YOU.

Watch: A Perilous Data Deficit?