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Feb. 6: Long form for 2016 census - and other letters to the ROB editor

Yearend review shows job-creation numbers were out by one-third, which is to be expected with Ottawa’s shoddy approach to collecting crucial information.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Long-form census is vital for Canada's economic data

Re Statscan forces decision-makers to drive blindfolded (Jan. 30): We wish to express our views, on behalf of the executive council of the Canadian Economics Association, on the importance of reinstating a mandatory long form for the 2016 census.

The impacts of the government dropping the long form from the 2011 census can be seen in four broad areas. First, historical comparability means that researchers can use the census to analyze long-run economic, geographical and social trends in Canada, and to make comparisons to U.S. census-based patterns and results for other countries.

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For example, studies of income distribution and inequality and how these have changed over time are inhibited because results from the replacement vehicle, the new National Household Survey (NHS), are not comparable to previous census results up to 2006. Not only is the response rate on the voluntary NHS down to 68.6 per cent, this response rate is not uniform across the income distribution.

The second area is coverage of low-income recipients and the analysis of poverty rates – the breadth, severity and location of low-income households and the unemployed.

These include the most vulnerable portions of society who are most dependent on key government services within their communities.

The third area is the lack of coverage of household income and labour market involvement at the local neighbourhood level for policy and decision-making purposes.

The recent article by Tavia Grant (Damage from cancelled census as bad as feared, researchers say, Jan. 29) documents the planning changes and additional costs faced by municipal authorities and the private sector as a result of their no longer being able to rely on long-form local community data.

Fourth, the loss of the long form can have a long-term effect on data quality from major Statistics Canada surveys.

We urge members of Parliament of all parties to consider these serious concerns.

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Russell Davidson, Charles Beach and Thomas Lemieux, Canadian Economics Association

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Scientific journals oppose Keystone XL, not just activists

Re Senate vote challenges Obama on Keystone (Jan. 30): Keystone supporters suggest the pipeline is opposed only by activists.

But, of course, objections are raised in many quarters.

For example, Scientific American concluded Keystone "will be a spigot that speeds tar sands production, pushing the planet toward its emissions limit."

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Among those criticizing the project: the world's most respected scientific journals.

Gideon Forman, executive director, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

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