Everyone knows - and should have known - that the numbers from the National Household Survey (NHS) would be dodgy. Statistics Canada has always claimed that the NHS numbers would be useful for many purposes, and this line has been swallowed by many. After all, Statistics Canada has a deserved reputation for professionalism, and their work deserved the benefit of the doubt.
No longer. It took Frances Woolley only a couple of hours to come across some seriously wonky numbers from the very first NHS release. Moreover, StatsCan isn't planning to release the technical documentation for the NHS until 2014. (In the ordinary course of things, methodology is presented before results.) And now there's today's last-minute delay in the NHS income numbers.
Chief Statistician Wayne Smith was telling us a few weeks ago
It’s irresponsible to try and dissuade Canadians from using what is an extraordinary rich and powerful database. To make them nervous about that is I think irresponsible.
It's entirely reasonable to be skeptical about numbers generated by an untried and untested methodology in the absence of technical documentation. Many people - me included - were prepared to give StatsCan the benefit of the doubt. They no longer deserve it.