On June 26, as Canadians were focused on the G-8 and G-20 meetings in Toronto, the government discretely announced its decision that the long-form census would no longer be compulsory. The census, which is sent every five years by Statistics Canada to a fifth of Canadian households, would be replaced by a voluntary survey of a full third of Canadian households. The short version of the national census, which contains only eight questions, remains compulsory and protected by the Constitution.
Statistics Canada was not consulted on this decision but simply asked to provide alternative solutions, none of which, they recognize, will provide the same quantity and quality of information. While no solution can adequately compensate for the change in methodology, the extended voluntary Household Survey will cost Statistics Canada an estimated $ 30 million more to administer a system which all statisticians describe as faulty.
How will the government’s decision impact on the arts and culture sector? Governments at all levels, as well as the nation’s cultural organizations, directly or indirectly use the long-form census to help design policy, plan and evaluate programs. An understanding of the changing demographics of individual communities and neighbourhoods is essential when planning cultural programs, designing cultural infrastructure, and more.
This is a very important issue for all, not only as artists and cultural workers but as citizens. Please make sure you send an email to your MP, Minister Clement Minister Moore and Prime Minister Harper. Also contact the Leader of the Opposition and the leaders of the NDP and the Bloc Québécois< You can find a model here
What are your thoughts on the decision to abolish the long-form census? Let us know on our blog.