Long-form census could be reinstated for 2016, experts say

October 22nd, 2015 

The following letter was signed by the Presidents of the Canadian Population Society and Quebec’s Association of Demographers and has been endorsed by more than 60 academics, directors of research centers and holders of Canadian Research Chairs across Canada.  It was addressed to the newly formed Liberal Government of Canada which has promised in its electoral platform to restore the Long Form Census in 2016.

See the following link, as the Globe and Mail has summarized the request in the following comment/editorial by Tavia Grant.

Saving the 2016 Census: Trudeau must act quickly In June 2010, the Harper government issued an Order in Council abolishing the mandatory nature of the census, ending a Canadian tradition older than the country itself. Strong opposition to this arbitrary decision culminated in the resignation of Munir Sheikh, the Chief Statistician at the time. His predecessor, former Chief Statistician Ivan Fellegi, correctly predicted that low response rates among large segments of the population would result in biased data. Provincial governments, municipalities, business associations, research institutes, and social scientists, all joined in rare unanimity against the decision.

We will not repeat here the arguments which have been put forward many times to describe the deleterious effects of such an anti-science measure. Its negative effects have been clearly documented. Response rates plummeted and as a result, nearly a quarter of Canadian municipalities are missing data for 2011. What’s more, the 2011 data cannot be compared with those of previous years and many groups, including aboriginal, lowincome and immigrant communities, are poorly represented.

The election of this new Liberal government provides an opportunity to stem the damage of these devastating changes. Mr. Trudeau has already promised to reinstate the mandatory long-form census and restore Statistics Canada’s reputation as a world leader in national statistics. Undoing these mistakes cannot wait; the time for action is now as Statistics Canada is on the cusp of launching the 2016 Census. An immediate Order in Council is the only way to implement the long-form in time for the census six months from now. This must be one of the first moves made by the Liberal government of Mr. Trudeau. It would mark a clear break with the previous government and ensure that future social policies can be made on scientific grounds rather than ideological dogmatism. .