StatsCAN Plus

Eh Sayers: Highlights from our podcast

February 14, 2024, 11:00 a.m. (EST)

In November 2021, Statistics Canada launched the Eh Sayers podcast. The mission from the beginning was clear: To meet the people behind the data and tell the stories behind the numbers.

What was not clear at the time was how experts from Statistics Canada and across the nation discussing data in real-time would be the perfect fit for audio storytelling—and just how useful it would become in shedding light on the topics that matter to Canadians.

Finding the story

When it comes to podcasts, what separates the fascinating from the mundane isn’t always the topic itself but the way in which it’s presented. Like in the world of investigative journalism, it’s all about finding the story.

Our podcast has explored topics such as inflation, misinformation, climate change, housing, the supply chain and much more. After 2+ years, 4 seasons and 16 episodes, let’s have a look back at some of our favourite and most compelling moments to date.

A woman of firsts

Did you know that in 1972, Dr. Sylvia Ostry became Canada’s first and (so far) only female Chief Statistician?

The illustrious career of Dr. Ostry, who passed away in 2020, included stints as head of the Department of Economics and Statistics at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, as Canada’s Deputy Minister of International Trade, and as the country’s Ambassador for Multilateral Trade Negotiations—not long after a time when women weren’t allowed to open a bank account without their husband’s signature.

Dr. Ostry once attended a meeting with Senator Flo Byrd to discuss the Royal Commission on Women at a very fancy club in Ottawa. However, upon arriving, she was stopped at the door simply for being a woman.

Dr. Ostry recounted the following story, which appears along with others as told by her sons in our episode from Season 3:

“They said, ‘you can't come in this door.’ I said, ‘what do you mean I can't come in this door?’ ‘Not allowed, as a woman, you have to go through the side door.’ So I burst out laughing, I said: ‘that's good ’cause we're having a meeting on a Royal Commission for Women and I'll make sure that this place is either closed or you open the front door.’”

Discerning fact from fiction

A factoid we learned while researching Statistics Canada data for the latest episode was that the Internet is the most common tool used for following news and current affairs, followed by television.

Our guest, Timothy Caulfield, a University of Alberta professor and misinformation/disinformation expert, said the following about this digital shift:

“There's been a lot of recent research that has found a strong correlation between where you get your information and whether you believe misinformation and whether you share misinformation and yes, it really does matter. So, no surprise here, if you get your information from social media, you're more likely to believe misinformation, more likely to spread misinformation. If you get your news from the legacy media, you know, the kinds of sources (like) well-known newspapers, broadcasters that have been around for a long time, you're less likely to believe misinformation, less likely to share misinformation.”

Could Canada eliminate poverty?

During research in the fall of 2022, the Eh Sayers team came across an astounding statistic: in 2020, amid the introduction of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and other COVID-19 pandemic-response programs, Canada’s poverty rate dropped from the previous year almost as much as it had from 2015 to 2019.

We were fascinated and had to know more. Has there ever been a time and place when the poverty rate was zero?

Dr. Evelyn Forget, an economist and professor with Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba, sat down with us in Season 3 to explain how guaranteed income programs in Canada have impacted the poverty rate historically, including the Mincome Experiment of the mid-1970s:

“… if you give people money for the most part, they spend it on things that improve the quality of life for themselves and their family. They invest in education, they invest in better housing, better food. People who receive money at vulnerable periods in their lives can really make changes that are going to affect their health that are going to affect their lives for years and years and years to come.”

Toward the future

As we celebrate the second anniversary of Eh Sayers, we can’t wait to delve deeply into more topics that matter, and to bring you the stories behind the numbers—wherever that journey takes us.

Eh Sayers is available to stream or download wherever you find your podcasts, and is also available right here on Statistics Canada’s website.

If you like our show, please rate, review, and subscribe. Thank you for all your support over the past two-plus years and into the future.

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