Evidence of meeting #4 for Official Languages in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was question.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Anil Arora  Chief Statistician of Canada, Statistics Canada
Stéphane Dufour  Assistant Chief Statistician, Census, Regional Services and Operations Sector, Statistics Canada

4 p.m.

NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

But were there any objections from any?

4 p.m.

Chief Statistician of Canada, Statistics Canada

Anil Arora

I'm not aware of any objections. I think those questions were well received.

4 p.m.

NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Is the committee still functioning? Has it been meeting on a regular basis?

4 p.m.

Chief Statistician of Canada, Statistics Canada

Anil Arora

Yes, they do meet on a regular basis. We continue to use their expertise both as a committee and also dealing with members.

4 p.m.

NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

You mentioned that your test results were to be done shortly. Can you define that to us? Do you have an estimated time?

4 p.m.

Chief Statistician of Canada, Statistics Canada

Anil Arora

As I've said before, we're certainly not going to test things and just hold the results for ourselves. The testing is there. The results are going to be transparent. We're in the final stages of putting the report together. As I've said before, that report becomes a part of the considerations for the final content that cabinet is going to have to make.

The report will come out as soon as the decisions are made public about the content that's going to be on the 2021 census.

4 p.m.

NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

When is shortly?

4 p.m.

Chief Statistician of Canada, Statistics Canada

Anil Arora

I don't know when cabinet is going to convene and actually have the conversation.

I'm sure once it's done and the questions are gazetted as under the law, it will be shortly after the gazetting.

4 p.m.

NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Okay.

So let me ask you this. When do you plan on sending your recommendations to cabinet?

4 p.m.

Chief Statistician of Canada, Statistics Canada

Anil Arora

It's part of the process that's—

4 p.m.

NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

That's doesn't answer my question.

There was a question that was asked in the House today—very, very important. The answer we got back from the government kind of concerns me because they are putting it in your lap saying that you guys are working on it. They are waiting for it. We need to know, this committee, when those recommendations going to cabinet will be done.

4 p.m.

Chief Statistician of Canada, Statistics Canada

Anil Arora

Look, you know, I want you to know that I don't sent cabinet dates. I don't set when these meetings happen. All I know is that, when that schedule gets set, we are ready with our set of recommendations. We will be ready. We are ready to collect the information and provide the information to users. That's what we do. That's what our job is.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Don't you send a report with the recommendations so that the cabinet can read it prior to having their meeting?

4:05 p.m.

Chief Statistician of Canada, Statistics Canada

Anil Arora

No. We will take the kernel of our analysis. As I've said, we're still in the process of finalizing the report. We will certainly be inputting our bottom-line results as part of the decision for cabinet to make.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Can cabinet ask Statistics Canada to modify the recommendations?

4:05 p.m.

Chief Statistician of Canada, Statistics Canada

Anil Arora

We do what we do best, which is statistics. Our recommendations are based on sound statistical methodology, something that we've been using for decades. Our recommendation is always going to be based on whether this set of questions will respond to the needs of users and whether it will give good quality data that meets the users' needs. That's our consideration. That's what we will put in, obviously, for consideration by cabinet members.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Emmanuel Dubourg

You have 10 seconds.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Okay.

Thank you.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Emmanuel Dubourg

We'll move on to Mr. Godin for the next five minutes.

March 12th, 2020 / 4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

I want to thank you, Mr. Arora, and your colleagues who have joined you.

I'll take a different approach. My statistics 337 college course was a long time ago, and I don't have your expertise.

Instead, I'll ask you the following question. If we want a true picture of a specific situation in a given population, what's the best method?

4:05 p.m.

Chief Statistician of Canada, Statistics Canada

Anil Arora

I think it's a really good question, because it really is dependent on a number of factors. Statistical sampling is a very solid method—I speak in general here—to get at a particular aspect that we're trying to study. I'll just give you one example.

We do the unemployment rate every single month, if I may—

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Arora, I'll interrupt you right now because we have very little time.

If I wanted to provide an accurate picture of a given situation, the best thing would be to knock on every door, paper in hand, to make a list. Unfortunately, that's no longer possible, and we're using statistical science.

What's the best statistical method for providing the most accurate picture possible of the situation of linguistic minorities and rights holders in Canada?

4:05 p.m.

Chief Statistician of Canada, Statistics Canada

Anil Arora

We conduct surveys all the time.

I was explaining to you that every month we survey millions of households regarding the level of unemployment. The science and the statistics help us to obtain high-quality data through surveys. We don't need to carry out a census. We don't carry out the census every month. That wouldn't be practical.

According to science, high-quality data can be obtained. We've been collecting high-quality data on official languages since the 1981 census using the long-form questionnaire.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

You're talking about the long-form questionnaire. I'll ask you the following question. If you include the questions on rights holders in both the long-form questionnaire and the short-form questionnaire, do you think that the picture will be more accurate?

4:05 p.m.

Chief Statistician of Canada, Statistics Canada

Anil Arora

First, there are several requirements—