Yukon Party ruffles feathers over census numbers

The Yukon Party raised a stink about 2016 census numbers this week, suggesting the Yukon could be shortchanged in future federal transfer payments because the census population estimate is lower than the Yukon Bureau of Statistics’ numbers.

The Yukon Party raised a stink about 2016 census numbers this week, suggesting the Yukon could be shortchanged in future federal transfer payments because the census population estimate is lower than the Yukon Bureau of Statistics’ numbers.

But the Bureau of Statistics itself doesn’t seem to share the Yukon Party’s concerns.

The first batch of 2016 census data, released earlier this month, cited Yukon’s population at 35,874. But the Yukon Bureau of Statistics reported that the territory’s population was 37,858 on June 30, 2016 — the census was taken in May.

Population is one of the factors used to calculate the territory’s transfer payment from the federal government. So if the territory’s population were to decline, the transfer payment might also decrease.

The Yukon Party calculated that because there is a difference of about 2,000 people between the census data and the Bureau of Statistics’ estimate, and because the per capita transfer is close to $25,000, using the census numbers could result in an annual loss of more than $50 million in transfer payments.

But there are a couple of flaws in that logic.

First, the territorial transfer is a complicated formula that is not just based on population.

Second, according to Yukon Bureau of Statistics director Bishnu Saha, the territorial transfer is “never based on census numbers.”

Saha said that in every census, some people aren’t counted. Therefore, the census population numbers don’t reflect 100 per cent of the population.

After the census is complete, Statistics Canada conducts a “reverse record check” to estimate the number of people missed, known as the undercoverage.

Once the undercoverage is calculated, Statistics Canada will adjust its demographic estimate accordingly. That will likely happen in late 2018, Saha said.

According to Saha, it’s the revised estimate, not the raw census numbers, that are used to calculate the territorial transfer.

And he said Statistics Canada’s estimate and the Yukon Bureau of Statistics’ own estimate will end up being “very close” — possibly within 10 or 20 people.

Saha said the Bureau of Statistics’ population estimates are based on health care files and other Yukon government administrative records.

Speaking to the News Feb. 16, Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers said the purpose of his party’s criticism was to raise public awareness of the issue.

“This is a problem that needs to be dealt with,” he said, suggesting the Yukon government could issue a call to get people who weren’t counted in the census to identify themselves to the Yukon Bureau of Statistics.

“These types of things may be well underway to being fixed by officials, but they don’t just fix themselves.”

Cathers said the $50-million calculation was meant as an “illustration,” and wasn’t a definitive number.

But Yukon Premier and Finance Minister Sandy Silver told the News his government isn’t “expecting any large changes to the forecasted TFF (transfer payment) based on the census.”

Still, he said he believes the Yukon Party wasn’t “trying to do anything malicious” by raising concerns.

“They’re in the opposition. It’s their job to critique and it’s their job to point things out,” he said. “That’s what Mr. Cathers did. It just so happens that what he pointed out wasn’t necessarily true.”

Contact Maura Forrest at maura.forrest@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Benjamin Poudou, Mount MacIntyre’s ski club manager, poses for a photo in the club’s ski rental area on Nov. 16. The club has sold around 1,850 passes already this year, compared to 1067 passes on Oct. 31 last year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Early season ski pass sales up as Yukoners prepare for pandemic winter

Season passe sales at Mount McIntyre for cross-country skiing are up by around 60 per cent this year

The City of Whitehorse will be spending $655,000 to upgrade the waste heat recovery system at the Canada Games Centre. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New waste heat recovery system coming to the CGC

Council approves $655,000 project

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate education advocates and volunteers help to sort and distribute Christmas hamper grocery boxes outside Elijah Smith Elementary School on Feb. 23. (Rebecca Bradford Andrew/Submitted)
First Nation Education Directorate begins Christmas hamper program

Pick-ups for hampers are scheduled at local schools

Cyrine Candido, cashier, right, wipes down the new plexi-glass dividers at Superstore on March 28, before it was commonplace for them to wear masks. The Yukon government is relaunching the Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program as the second wave of COVID-19 begins to take place in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program extended to 32 weeks

More than 100 businesses in the territory applied for the first phase of the program

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Keith Lay speaks at a city council meeting on Dec. 4, 2017. Lay provided the lone submission to council on the city’s proposed $33 million capital spending plan for 2021 on Nov. 23, taking issue with a number of projects outlined. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Resident raises issues with city’s capital budget

Council to vote on budget in December

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read