What is the issue?
The Conservative Government decided that it would kill the mandatory long- form census it normally sends out to thousands of Canadians every five years. Instead, a mandatory short form will go out to everyone for next year’s census, with basic questions about how many people live in the household and their ages and genders.
Having just returned from my 100% digitally disconnected cottage vacation, I’ve had quite a bit of catching up to do on this whole situation. Rather than re-stating what has already been written, I want to point you to my colleagues David Eaves (from eaves.ca) and Tracey Lauriault (from datalibre.ca) who are both still providing some quality insight and analysis of this issue on their blogs as it evolves.
Why is this a really bad decision and why should you care?
I’d rather you read the reasons from this rapidly growing list of opposing organizations because the reasons are endless. In short, the government is getting rid of the primary source for evidence-based decision making, and thus will have an excuse to rely on hunch based decisions that conveniently fit the current government’s agenda. This is quite possibly one the most poorly thought out moves ever made by our government. There will be implications for every person in every line of business in the public, private and non-profit sectors. Here are three posts I strongly advise you read:
- Why you should care about the sudden demise of the mandatory long census form – David Eaves
- Uses of long-form data – question justification – Tracey Lauriault
- Research Has Become a Dirty Word: Part Two – Jim Mintz
What about the Scandinavian model in which countries have successfully gotten rid of the census?
Here is quote from Gustave Goldmann, formerly a senior official at Statistics Canada:
“The critics often cite examples of countries that have done away with the census as evidence Canada should do the same in the name of privacy. What they fail to acknowledge is that the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands and other European states have extensive administrative data bases that contain the same information that Canada gathers in the census. These data include registration numbers that are used to create linked data bases for all individuals living in these countries. The residents (citizens and non-citizens alike) in these countries are obliged to provide this information. All interactions with the state (health, education, taxation, the justice system, migration) are recorded in these data bases.”
What about the argument that this is to protect our privacy?
Read this post: It was never about privacy
What can you do?
You can sign this massive petition to reverse the decision on canceling the long-form census.