Goldhawk Fights Back: Using Numbers to Prop Up a Weak Argument

This is a weekly column by Dale Goldhawk, Canada’s best-known consumer advocate. A journalist, author and broadcaster, Dale hosts Goldhawk Fights Back For You, on AM 740 or at AM740 ZoomerRadio, Monday through Friday from 11 am to 1 pm, in the eastern time zone. Visit his website at

Statistics Canada has told us that the national unemployment rate for Canada, in March, remained steady at 8.2 per cent, as the economy added 17,900 jobs.

Not so bad, an optimistic person might say. But is the Government using the power of numbers to bolster a weak argument? Consider the words of 19th century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli who is quoted by Mark Twain as having said: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics.”

So let’s dig down a bit on those Statscan numbers. First off, the March numbers did not meet the expectations of most economists who had predicted 8.1 per cent unemployment and 26,000 additional jobs.
Then it gets a bit worse. Full-time employment fell by 14,200 in March, all those additional jobs are in the part-time category, where 32,000 new jobs were created.

But Statscan does note that if you go all the way back to July of last year, to establish a “trend,” you can say that Canada registered a net job gain of 176,000 full-time jobs. Not very helpful if you didn’t have a job in March of 2010.

Summing up the numbers provided by Statistics Canada, Canadian Press reported that employment edged up in Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan in March, while there was little change in all other provinces.

But Erin Weir, an economist with United Steelworkers, sums up the employment picture this way:

“Statistics Canada provided another piece of evidence that the job market is not recovering nearly as rapidly as Gross Domestic Product.”

Weir also told me
modest increase in total employment kept pace with Canada’s growing labour force “but barely dented unemployment. In total, more than 1.5 million Canadians remain officially unemployed.”

Across the country, Weir focuses on the four provinces where unemployment went up — Newfoundland and Labrador, PEI, Alberta and British Columbia.

Says Weir: “Alberta’s appreciable loss of jobs, combined with its growing labour force, drove provincial unemployment close to its all-time high. In March, 159,200 Albertans were officially unemployed, more than in any previous month in this economic crisis. Indeed, March 2010 was the highest monthly unemployment total on record, with the single exception of September 1984, when 161,000 Albertans were officially unemployed.”

Dale GoldhawkGemini award nominee, journalist and broadcaster, Dale Goldhawk has earned Canada’s trust by his four decades of work exposing fraud and greed in the marketplace. To read more of his articles, go to (now part of the ZoomerMedia family of websites).

Don’t miss Goldhawk Fights Back , on the New AM740 Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.