Tax payers should be aware, senior public officials overseeing British Columbia's Official Statistical Agency, BC Statistics, can change methods and data without peer review and without informing the public. For example, BC Statistics officials provided incorrect methods and data accompanying population numbers to citizens addressing public school closures as well as to Statistics Canada and Finance Canada addressing equalization payments. Please allow me to explain.
BC Statistics' 1998 population estimation methods were revised in 2011. BC Statistics 2011 methods paper stated some of the changes to the methods used to estimate population that occurred between 1998 and 2011.
For example, "After extensive analyses it was later determined that telephone line data (Telus) was a suitable indicator and was subsequently added to the model in 2000." P. 8 GENERALIZATION ESTIMATION SYSTEM (GES) Small Area Population Estimation, Method and Error Evaluation, August 2011, (GES 2011).
To be clear, for over 10 years, from 2000 to 2011, BC Statistics provided the 1998 methods to accompany 'unfounded' population estimates and forecasts used to justify opening and closing public facilities (including school closures) as well as used to determine Canada's equalization payments. In a 2005 feasibility study Statistics Canada explained:
"BC Stats produces its CSD-level population estimates using regression methods with specific symptomatic indicators (number of residential electrical connections and Old Age Security (OAS) recipients). For more details on the methodology, see Generalized Estimation System (GES), Small Area Population Estimation Methodology published by BC Stats in 1998 and available on their website. "The Equalization Program and the Property Tax Base: Feasibility Study Conducted by Statistics Canada", February 28, 2005, p. 63 Conclusions of Finance Canada received June 18, 2012.
To be clear, BC Statistics did not inform Statistics Canada about the use of telephone landline data to estimate population since the year 2000, instead BC Stats provided the 1998 methods to Statistics Canada. Because BC Statistics provided false reports to Statistics Canada, Statistics Canada was deceived into stating BC Stats methods are of " better quality" and "showed better results". (The Equalization Program and the Property Tax Base: Feasibility Study Conducted by Statistics Canada", February 28, 2005,p 63, 64.)
Canada includes 4 Official Statistical Agencies in studies used to determine equalization payments. These agencies do not share an agreement on formal policies and clear accountabilities to address the risks and dangers of monopoly inherent in government agencies' analytical activities.
Taxpayers should ensure that the official statistical agencies provide verifiable information with which to determine equalization payments as well as information used to justify opening and closing of public (and private entities who also use Official Statistical Agency numbers for business planning) facilities.
Jordan, in 2014, the National Post ran an article stating "Canada's latest baby boom caught experts by surprise" How can this be since Canada has arguably one of the best Statistical Agencies in the world and we have 3 other official statistical agencies? Having worked as a Population Analyst for BC Statistics I can offer a reason. Canada's Statistical Agencies have been reluctant to disclose their use of controversial methods and data (telephone landlines) to determine policy as well as equalization payments.
As mentioned previously, the BC government reps claimed "disclosure [of the Equalization Payments study] harmful to intergovernmental negotiations and relations"
Former Chief Statistician for Statistics Canada, Ivan Fellegi, highlighted the importance of formal policies and clear accountabilities, including verification of methods and data used to create "findings" to safeguard the integrity of government analytic products. (http://www.wminfomatics.com/WP/ANALYTIC_ACTIVITIES_AT_STATISTICSCANADA.pdf)
Unfortunately, Canada's taxpayers appear to have overlooked the importance of verification of methods and data used to create findings used in turn to justify policy and equalization payments .
Perhaps it is time to have Canada's 4 Official Statistical Agencies ratify an agreement to ensure findings are verifiable.
I should mention that I have made many presentations describing the importance of verification (as well as the deception by BC Stats officials) at international and national conferences. A summary of my presentation at the 2013 Congress organized by the Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences can be found on line at: http://www.wminfomatics.com/PopGeog/articles.html scroll to June 6, 2013
Would you allow me to present my findings to your organization?
William Warren Munroe
Population Projections Project
"Jordan Bateman" <email@example.com>To:
Monday, May 16, 2016 8:09:08 AMSubject:
Re: wrong doing or fraud
Can you please send me more on this? Am I correct to think that you believe either BC Stats or StatsCan has been overestimating BC population, thus forcing us to pay more in equalization? Or underreporting to make sure we get less back?
B.C. Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Warren Munroe <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, May 13, 2016 at 12:02 PM
Subject: wrong doing or fraud
Hello Mr. Gould,
I was referred to you to address a labour law issue.
Could you please tell me if fraud, where people in control of seemingly legitimate organizations use that seeming legitimacy to deceive others and thereby receive something in return that they would not have if their deceit had not worked?
In this case, the Province of British Columbia also has tried to cover up the false reports provided to Statistics Canada used to determine equalization payments by Finance Canada.
"disclosure harmful to intergovernmental negotiations or relations" (Freedom of Information reply)
In return for providing incorrect, false reports, Statistics Canada stated that BC Statistics methods were of "better quality" than Statistics Canada (perhaps Statistics Canada should have used the change in the number of telephone landlines as an indicator of population change). Subsequently, the government of British Columbia representatives used this endorsement to assert the "integrity" of BC Statistics in reply to parents and guardians and concerned community members concern regarding the fact the BC Statistics did not publish the correct methods for over 10 years.
Perhaps this a less a labour law issue than a fraud issue ( we sure don't want Canadians to be deceived about equalization payments do we).
What would you suggest?
William Warren Munroe
Economist, Population Analyst (2002 to 2006)
fired for insubordination after raising concerns (as per my job description) about the use of non-statistical and substandard methods and models by BC Stats
discovered fraud in 2012;
continuing to raise awareness about the need for formal policies and clear accountabilities for Official Statistical Agencies involved in studies addressing Equalization payments