The contoversy about Hamilton’s actual rate of poverty is really an indicator of a much larger problem that governments and community groups will be facing, namely, they don’t have accurate information about what’s happening in their community.
The problem is something called the National Household Survey.
It replaced the Canadian census forms that Canadians were required by law to complete.
The Harper government felt that was too draconian, so they replaced the census with the voluntary National Household Survey.
If you don’t remember doing the survey, you’re not alone; many people just didn’t bother.
In Hamilton for instance, the compliance rate for the census was about 90%, but, only about 65% bothered to fill out the Household Survey.
Fewer surveys means less accurate information about things like poverty levels or employment rates or even population growth patterns.
So, has the level of poverty really decreased significantly in Hamilton ? We’re not sure.
Where’s the best place to build a new school ? Hard to tell because we don’t have accurate data about population growth .
It’s challenging, to say the least, for governments to spend our taxes wisely.
Not having accurate information to validate where the money goes only makes the situation worse.
The Federal government’s idea to switch to this voluntary National Household Survey is short-sighted and problematic.
We’re less informed and less able to determine if the government is working in our best interest, and that should be setting off alarm bells for all of us.