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Canada has a data problem

(Photo: Audtakorn Sutarmjam/EyeEm)

Things you might think a sophisticated first-world country would know about its citizens…we simply don’t.

Numbers and information that might help researchers and planners find answers and direct their efforts aren’t available. Some data just isn’t collected. Other stats are locked away. When you only speak to specialists about it, this can seem like an esoteric problem-infuriating, but localized. When you start throwing open the doors and issuing a call to everyone who has sought data that we don’t have or won’t make public, though, you realize the scope of the problem.

A Globe and Mail project began last year to try and examine just how many numbers are missing, and why. What it revealed is that not only is Canada well behind many comparable nations, we’ve actually gotten worse since the 21st century began.

This isn’t highly-specific data, either. We’re talking about marriage and divorce rates, how far Canadians drive each year, or the race and education of people who die. What happens to research, policy and even simple practical decisions when they’re made in a vacuum? Nothing positive. So how did we end up so data deficient? What kinds of problems has it caused? And what do we need to do to fix it?

GUESTS: Eric Andrew-Gee and Tavia Grant, The Globe And Mail

 

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