Government counting agency details anxiety of Canadians
By Atiba Nelson, Staff Reporter
Most Canadians know Statistics Canada as the government agency responsible for either sending surveyors to front doors across Canada, or for mailing out census forms to collect information on individuals. However, the mandate of the organization extends far beyond counting people; the agency wants Canadians to have the economic, social, and environmental information to function as citizens and decision makers. As such, the Statistic Canada creates knowledge products to relay important information to Canadians. The most recent product centers around the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadians.
“The magnitude of the COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented and is having a profound effect on the health, social, and economic activities of Canadians,” said Statistics Canada in a press release regarding the information gathered. “Our organization is committed to supporting decision makers and to informing Canadians by generating rich, timely, and relevant data and analysis about the current pandemic.”
The national agency employed a new data collection method called crowdsourcing for their latest knowledge translation products. Although the details of the new collection method are sparse, the government website states the method distributes a questionnaire to a big community of users with the idea that individuals are experts in their local environments. Therefore, the findings are a reflection of the thoughts of Canadians and their experiences living in the time of COVID-19.
Statistics Canada reports that regardless of age, many respondents described themselves as very or extremely anxious about overloading the health system and the health of the nation’s most vulnerable people.
“Close to 6 in 10 seniors report being very or extremely concerned about their own health,” read the headline on the Daily—the Statistics Canada webpage that releases the generated knowledge products.
Conversely, young Canadians, age 15 to 24, were anxious about the social stressors of COVID-19, instead of the health worries. The respondents in this age group listed several social stressors, such as stress from confinement at home (41 percent of sample), the possibility to civil disorder (43 percent), and stress about the ability to maintain social ties (36 percent).
This age group also reported that the pandemic would have a “moderate” or “major” impact on their ability to meet their financial obligations, as youth were worried that they would lose their jobs or self-employment income as a result of COVID-19 (43 percent).
Although the new way of collecting data and opinions from Canadians featured responses from a large swath of Canadians, the method used does not allow the national statistical agency to generalize the results to the overall Canadian population.