Counting What Counts: Do We Need To Know More About Our Wards?


 Counting What Counts: Do We Need To Know More About Our Wards?

The Telegraph Journal recently printed the following letter from the HDC's Executive Director, Randy Hatfield.

The letter is a response to an anonymous editorial titled "Another study on poverty," which critiqued the Ward Profiles recently released by the HDC as "simply updating a picture that many who work in the non-profit sector have known about for years."

Have a read and let us know what you think: do we need to have better data on/awareness of poverty in Saint John on the ward level?


"I wish your anonymous editorial writers would make up their minds.

On May 12, in an editorial labelled “Another Study on Poverty”, it was noted that “the community needs to move away from further study and more toward corrective action if it wants to see progress.”

While it’s hard to disagree with that assertion, the “study” was a compilation of public data from the last census, its accompanying National Household Survey, taxfiler data for 2012 and voter turnout rates from Elections NB. The information was presented in a user friendly infographic format and, for the first time, used a lens of the City’s four wards. It was meant to inform and can be found on our website

The last “study” was in 2008, when the census provided reliable data at the neighbourhood level. When the federal government made the heavily criticized decision to replace the Mandatory Long Form census in 2011 with the Voluntary National Household Survey, the resulting data was so unreliable that we lost our ability to measure neighbourhood level changes.

On May 14, in an editorial entitled “Crackdown on water accounts wise move”, council’s decision to call on Saint John Water to report their financial situation monthly was met with approval. “The councillor (Fullerton) was also correct in pointing out you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

We agree. It’s too bad the TJ’s zeal for measuring delinquent water accounts doesn’t extend to measuring economic and social conditions in our wards."


Randy Hatfield

Executive Director

Human Development Council

Author- Randy Hatfield

Randy is the executive director at the Saint John Human Development Council.