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Right now, there is a bill before parliament that proposes to amend the Statistics Act in order to reinstate the long form census and expand the authority of the Chief Statistician of Canada. MP Ted Hsu introduced Bill C-626 as a private member’s bill in September 20141. The bill is currently up for debate and will come to a vote this winter.
Statistics Canada produces data that is used by all levels of government, community groups and businesses to make smart decisions. Bill C-626 gives Statistics Canada the tools it needs to collect important information on the commercial, financial, social and economic conditions of Canadians2.
In 2011, the government decided to scrap the mandatory long-form census and replace it with the voluntary National Household Survey (NHS). This new voluntary survey produces data that are unreliable and even unusable; and it actually costs more to implement than the long-form census3. Canadians are paying more for less information.
Canada’s Chief Statistician at the time, Dr. Munir Sheikh, resigned in protest over this change4. Many industry professionals and organizations have also spoken out5.
Voluntary surveys receive lower response rates when compared to mandatory ones [see background information]. Typically, vulnerable populations (new immigrants, Aboriginals, low-income, single parents) and those with the highest income have lower response rates; thus, data about their demographics is poorly represented in voluntary surveys. This lack of robust information about important groups leads to skewed data sets, poor decision-making, and costly government policy mistakes.
Ted Hsu’s Bill proposes to bring back the mandatory long-form census so the detailed demographic data required to make smart policy decisions about Canadians’ needs can be collected accurately and reliably.
We need to take action now to support the development of evidence-based policies for the benefit of all Canadians. Bill C-626 gives us an excellent opportunity to raise this important issue again. Send a letter to your MP today to show your support for bringing back the long-form census to aid smart decision-making.
Evidence for Democracy’s campaign to reinstate the long-form census wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of people like you. Please consider making a contribution today to support this work.