By Lethbridge Herald on November 1, 2023.
I recently took the Alberta government’s online pension survey. Below are some of the concerns I have with the survey:
My first and most serious concern relates to the survey’s overall tone. Many of the questions contain the phrase “Assuming an APP is established,” and then proceed to solicit views on how such a plan should be structured. This is shamelessly misleading and was obviously meant to inflate the level of support for the plan.
The survey should have asked a simple question: Are you in favour of an APP or not? For a more nuanced response that basic question could have been framed as a Likert-type statement. I’m not sure which is worse, that the survey is so unmistakably and transparently biased, or that Smith and company are so unsophisticated they weren’t able to better mask their intentions.
Secondly, the preamble describes how the information collected will be used and specifies the statutory provisions under which personal information is collected.
This is as one would expect. But the preamble fails to fully inform potential participants of our rights as participants. For instance, while participants can withdraw from the survey at any time simply by closing the browser, we should be told if the information given to that point will have been captured, and if so, participants must be given right to deny use of that information if that is their wish.
Third, the survey’s first page contains four questions collecting basic demographic and locational information. These are standard questions and while I had no issue answering them, I discovered I was not able to proceed to the next page unless I did.
To require any given question on a survey to be answered is a clear a violation of a widely understood best management practice in survey research.
Simply put, survey participants should not be required to answer any question they do not wish to answer. Moreover, it is unacceptable that in order to share one’s views on this important political question with the government, one is required to give up personal information.
Finally, I completed the survey on my iPad but after that was able to log into the survey on my iPhone and then on my computer. I could have completed the survey numerous times, but thought my time was better spent composing this letter. Self-selected samples are problematic enough, but the lack of controls on the number of times this survey can be completed will render its results worthless.
The Smith government is clearly being manipulative and untrustworthy in this matter. Can we afford to trust them with our CPP?