Scrapping the Mandatory Long-form Census: A move in Favour of Privacy or the Loss of Rigorous Public Research?

The federal government decided recently to scrap the mandatory long-form census and replace it with a shorter voluntary survey. Industry Minister Tony Clement said the decision was made because some Canadians found the “mandatory process coercive and the detailed questions intrusive.”

Judging by the growing backlash from a variety of directions, Clement may have overstated the number of people who find the traditional census an intrusion on privacy. Since the announcement, economists, doctors, researchers, charities, and advocacy groups such as CARP have voiced concern over the significant loss a move away from the long-form census would mean. The concern culminated in the resignation of Statistics Canada’s respected head and chief statistician, Munir Sheikh.

For generations of Canadian researchers, statisticians, academics, advocacy groups, and citizens, the census has proved to be an invaluable source of information, without which the ability to remain on the cusp of policy design, demographic research, and economic analysis would be radically diminished. Our census, and Statistics Canada, which analyzes and synthesizes the information, is highly regarded internationally for the scope and rigor with which the information is presented.

The government may argue that shorter voluntary surveys can replace the rigour of the census, but many information based organization disagree. Lets us know your opinion on the matter by responding to this week’s poll.

Keywords: census