Cc: Lisa Raitt
Next year, Canadians will once again be required to fill out our census forms and be counted. But thanks to a decision by Industry Minister Tony Clement, some of us may count less than others.
Mr. Clement has decided that the long form census, which asks more detailed questions about income, employment, housing, immigration status, etc., will be replaced with a voluntary "household survey". Apparently some people find the questions on the long form to be too 'intrusive' and don't like being required to fill them out.
One wonders how they feel about filling out their tax forms every year.
Making the long form census voluntary may seem like a minor change, but it will have a huge negative impact on the quality of the census data because the people who tend to benefit the most from social programs such as recent immigrants, aboriginal Canadians, the poor and the disadvantaged, are the very ones who would be least likely to fill out a voluntary survey. This would skew the results to the point of making them useless.
We would essentially be basing vital government policy decisions on the equivalent of an online poll.
Accurate, detailed census data is crucial to allocating government funding and services. Federal, provincial, and municipal governments all use this data to identify which neighbourhoods require things like immigrant services, low income housing, child care and transit, as well as determining demographic changes and the efficacy of social programs over time.
Our own town councillors and staff make regular use of census data when making planning and budgeting decisions. They also use it to bolster their case when applying to other levels of government for funding for things like the hospital expansion.
Mr. Clement's ill-conceived, irresponsible and costly decision has been condemned by everyone from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to the former head of Statistics Canada. I join them in urging the Minister and his government to reverse this decision now.