Internal survey: Canadians want long-form census reinstated

Ted Hsu
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When the Conservative government put an end to the long-form census in 2011, the decision was widely criticized. Canadians understood that there would be serious consequences for significantly reducing data collection, and now we are starting to see the effects of these consequences.


Last week, the Auditor General released a report that found that smaller towns across the country were being seriously underrepresented by StatsCan as a result of the shift from the mandatory long-form census to the National Household Survey.


Now, the government is facing survey results that show that most users are upset with these changes. Last year, the Treasury Board – the same department responsible for cancelling the long-form census – consulted with 80 users about its data dissemination, particularly the “Open Government Action Plan.” The resulting report, however, showed that users were mostly interested in raising concerns about the termination of the long-form census. With the new system, users had trouble with the search functions of the new government data site, and they also noted that necessary information was lacking and that it was difficult to get answers to questions.


I know how important data collection is for Canadians. We use this information to chart employment trends, to figure out which areas need more schools and hospitals, and to determine housing needs. That’s why I tabled my private member’s bill, Bill C-562, which amends the Statistics Act to restore the long-form census, and to expand the authority and political independence of the Chief Statistician, so that we can have the data required to develop the evidence-based policies our country needs.