February 7, 1905 (10th Parliament, 1st Session)

LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I believe it will be more economical too. My reasons for that are these. One of the greatest difficulties always found in the taking of the census is the necessity of organizing a staff, almost on the spur of the moment, of inexperienced people who have never had much of this kind of work before. The difficulties consequent on this hasty manner of operation would be avoided if there were a permanent census office. But, in addition to that, what I consider to be quite as important is the necessity, in the present stage of our development. of obtaining accurate statistics during tfle ten years that intervene between the taking of the censuses. Hitherto we have had no accurate statistics whatever for the whole Dominion except those taken in the census years. The result is that when investigations are made by students or public men, or others, requiring general information with regard to the Dominion, they have either to go back to the census year or get their information from whatever sources they can. At present, these sources are in a certain way official. The trade and navigation returns give information about trade matters, and the other departments do give certain other information ; but there is no compilation of the figures given in the various departmental reports in a form available to the public at large except in the Canadian Year Book. This work is a compilation made from the various departmental reports for the year, but it only deals with what appears in those reports. I think it is in the interest of our country that we should have a more frequent taking of information in regard to our industrial and agricultural interests ; and for that purpose I think it is necessary to have a permanent office which, while it takes a census of the population, and obtains detailed information on all the different subjects which have been contained in our census once in ten years, should also have the duty

of taking information at first hand on a portion of those subjects every year. I do not propose that a whole census should be taken every year ; that would be quite out of the question. I do not propose that on any one subject statistics should be taken every year ; but I do think that between the two censuses, there should be a periodic taking of information along various lines, and including each year a portion of the census information. For instance, certain agricultural statistics might be taken every second year, and certain other agricultural statistics in the alternate years. Certain industrial statistics might also be taken in the same way. Certain mortuary or hygienic statistics might be taken at intervals, whether every second year, every third year, or otherwise, according to the, decision of the department and the facilities of the work. In this way a comparatively small staff would be able to work one year on one set of statistics and in another year on another set of statistics, and would secure for us, between the decennial censuses, in the aggregate, a large mass of important information. I think this is one of the most important objects, if not the most important, in having a permanent office, and in providing by this Act for the appointment of a permanent staff, and for giving them the authority to do in other years what they now have authority to do in the census year, each time the authority is given them designating just what information they shall collect. I may say that a work similar to this is being carried on and has been carried on for some little time in the United States. The United States census office secures a very large amount of information which our census office never has been in the habit of securing. The work in regard to the census is continued from year to year practically until the work for the next census begins. Compilations and tables are prepared from the census work of 1891. the work on which continues practically until the census of 1901 is commenced.

Topic:   CENSUS AND STATISTICS.
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