Canadian Social Research Links

The Canada Census
Long Form Questionnaire!

Updated May 1, 2016

[ Go to Canadian Social Research Links Home Page ]

The Long Form Census returns May 10, 2016!
Officials are hoping a successful E-Petition will lead to the city being named a national site for poverty reduction.

Audio report on the return of the long form Census questionnaire (no video) - duration 7:50

John Campey and the Data Hounds sing (again), in celebration:

John Campey and the Data Hounds sing (again), in celebration: (video, duration 2:27)
NOTE (by Gilles): One of the people in this talented septet is Jennefer Laidley, who monitors social policy issues in the media for the Income Security Advocacy Centre in Toronto. Thanks, Jennefer!
Jennefer shares her work (for free) with everyone who subscribes to her (mostly weekly) mailing list, to assist those government people who craft the
laws guiding social assistance and to those in the NGO sector to help keep governments' feet to the fire in matters of social policy.

Stats Can waiting to possibly reinstate long-form census
By Jason Fekete
October 27, 2015
Statistics Canada is quietly waiting for its official marching orders from a new Liberal government to quickly reinstate the mandatory long-form census and have it ready for 2016. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have promised to restore the mandatory long-form census that the Conservative government eliminated in 2010 and replaced with a voluntary National Household Survey that critics say has significant holes in its data.

Ottawa Citizen

Census Watch

Organizations and individuals AGAINST and FOR the Harper position on the cancellation of the Long Form of the 2011 Census.

As at December 23, 2010 :
* 11 FOR



"(...) He [Harper] also appreciates the need to dumb them [Canadians] down to facilitate stripping government back to its core functions: a strong military to defend the nation abroad, more police, prisons and tougher justice to defend the citizen at home and an unfettered free market to create wealth and employment through ever-lower taxes, especially on business and the well-to-do. Addressing social and economic inequality should be left to individual initiative and private charity."
Frances Russell Murdoch
in The Tyee
(12 Aug 2010)

The site aims to highlight science done for the public good – much of it taxpayer-funded and carried out by government scientists – and to “mobilize” scientists and the public to pressure politicians to support it. It features interviews with federal scientists about their work, along with interviews with science policy experts. (CBC)

[ Version française du site: : "La science qui vous protège"]


In a nutshell :

The Harper government is moving to eliminate the Canada Census long form questionnaire and replace it with a voluntary survey. The long form was sent to 20% of households and is a critical source of information about diversity, employment, income, education and other characteristics of Canadians. It is essential to business, research, planning and good public policies and programs. Stakeholders ranging from the business community, to university researchers to social justice advocates are raising their voices to oppose this move. [ Source: Excerpt from the petition to keep the long form ]

Join the fight to save the Long Form Census in Canada!
[This website was created and is hosted and maintained by Social Planning Toronto]


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Vanishing Canada: Why we’re all losers in Ottawa’s war on data
Records deleted, burned, tossed in Dumpsters. A Maclean’s investigation on the crisis in government data
Anne Kingston
September 18, 2015
Economic considerations are cited routinely to justify cutbacks in collecting, analyzing and digitizing information. A closer look at recent data erasure, however, suggests it runs counter to sound economic strategy. The glaring example is the elimination of the mandatory long-form census, a detailed survey of Canadians taken every five years. Its replacement, the voluntary National Household Survey, added $22 million to the cost of the 2011 census; the response rate dropped from 94 per cent in 2006 to 69 per cent, which makes the data totally unreliable.



July 27, 2015
Northern Ontario stats aren't reliable enough to be used, data librarian says
Why have cities like Sudbury been left out of national research studies?
CBC News

The Bottom Line : Poor data will affect funding and policy decision making.

United States

What happened when Canada stopped counting its numbers
Five years after leaders killed the long-form census, researchers can't tell you what direction the country is going in
April 2, 2015
By Leyland Cecco
In June 2010, the Canadian government unveiled a grand experiment in data collection. In the name of privacy, Prime Minister Stephen Harper ended the mandatory long-form census for the country and swapped it out with a voluntary survey.

Five years later, there is a mass scramble to make sense of a rapidly changing country. Despite an explosion of corporate data-mining in most nations, researchers interested in tracking poverty, immigration and public health in Canada know less and less about the country as time progresses. They’re not, for example, entirely sure if income inequality is accelerating, stagnant or closing. Across the nation there is a loud, collective uneasiness among them.

Al Jazeera America

Don't Starve the Census*
By The Editorial Board
March 10, 2015
The call for budget cuts by some Republicans would impair the agency's already strained ability to gather data. (...) A threat to timely and accurate Census data is a threat to fact-based debate and data-driven policy making.

New York Times

Related link:

* It seems to me I've heard that song before... (video, duration 2:32)
[ ]

February 5, 2015 UPDATE:
This train has left the station.

Liberal MP s bill to resurrect long-form census voted down
February 4, 2015
Liberal M.P. Ted Hsu's private member s bill to bring back the long-form census and bolster the independence of the chief statistician was voted down on second reading in the Commons on Wednesday.

Earlier related links:

Bill to reinstate long-form census comes up for a vote in House of Commons today
February 4, 2015 (pre-debate & vote)
The Liberal MP pushing parliament to bring back the long-form census says he’d be content if the federal government would agree to expand the short-form census slightly

Two days to save the long-form census
Ted Hsu: ‘The fight over this bill is a fight over the soul of this country’
NOTE --- contains 20+ embedded links to related online resources.
By Aaron Wherry
February 2, 2015
On Wednesday evening (Feb. 4/15), the House of Commons will vote on whether or not to reinstate the mandatory long-form census. Perhaps all that’s standing between Ted Hsu’s private member’s bill [ ] and approval in principle at second reading is fewer than a dozen Conservative votes. Hsu introduced his bill last fall. It received its first hour of debate in November and its second hour last Thursday. The government has expressed its opposition, while the Liberals and New Democrats seem lined up in support and (...) both Green MPs will [likely] vote in favour.

NOTE : The above article contains 20+ embedded links to related online resources.

Former chief statistician Munir Sheikh, who resigned after Tony Clement publicly suggested Sheikh had supported the government’s decision (re. the long form Census questionnaire), offered his assessment of the situation in 2013:
May 9, 2013
Spoiler : "Canada has lost its Census anchor"

From the Childcare Resource and Research Unit:
[ ]

Bill C-626 An Act to Amend the Statistics Act
4 Feb 2015 | Canada
A private member's bill to reinstate the long-form census and expand the authority of the Chief Statistician, presented by Ted Hsu, Liberal MP for Kingston and the Islands will be voted on in the House of Commons this evening (Feb 4, 2015).

Damage from cancelled census as bad as feared, researchers say
4 Feb 2015 | Canada

Data crimes and misdemeanors: Why childcare, too, needs the long-form census
2 Feb 2015 | Canada
Blog by Martha Friendly explains why CRRU supports Bill C-626, a private member's bill calling for restoration of Canada's long-form census. It argues that "data at the community and neighbourhood level about income and family composition is fundamental for child care planning..." and that to be useful, data must cover all communities and kinds of families and be comparable over time and space. It observes that the public planning needed to build the long-awaited national child care system families need requires good data beginning with a reliable national census.

Why Canada should reinstate long-form census
1 Feb 2015


From CBC News:
[ ]

Long form census: Duelling backbencher bills revive House debate
February 2, 2015
Liberal MP Ted Hsu's bill, which would bring back the long-form census and bolster the independence of the chief statistician, is scheduled for a second-reading vote this week. But it's Conservative MP Joe Preston's bid to remove the threat of jail times on all Statistics Canada surveys, including the mandatory short-form census, that has the greatest likelihood of becoming law


From Macleans:

The National Household Survey: Pig, meet lipstick
By Stephen Gordon
May 8, 2013
The survey won’t answer the crucial questions only the long-form census could.

January 21, 2015
Quality, as usual
Ever wonder how to run a top national statistical agency?
On the occasion of the second anniversary of the launch of the StatCan Blog, Chief Statistician Wayne R. Smith shares four elements needed to excel in the world of statistics : Relevance, Credibility, Competence and Efficiency.
NOTE : The above link will take users to a short summary of the Jan. 25 blog entry whose link appears below.

StatCan Blog, January 2015

Earlier postings to the
StatCan Blog


* By Gilles:

Four words : Long. Form. Census. Questionnaire.

Restoring the Mandatory Long-Form Census

From the
Globe and Mail:

Ending mandatory long-form census has hurt Canada
November 6, 2014
Bill C-626, a private member’s bill that would restore the mandatory long-form census and shield the Chief Statistician of Canada from political interference, has no chance of becoming law. It was introduced by a Liberal MP, Ted Hsu, and has limited support in Parliament. Even more foreboding, its adoption would require the Harper government to do something it loathes: admit an error.
But an error it was – and a now well-documented one – for the government to eliminate the mandatory long-form census in 2010 and replace it with the voluntary National Household Survey.
Statisticians are statisticians so we don’t have to be. If they say they need accurate, regular, comparable census, then that’s what they should get from the government. Mr. Hsu’s bill may be doomed, but it will go down fighting to reverse a decision that has harmed the country in tangible ways.

The Globe and Mail


From the website of
Ted Hsu, Liberal Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands:
[ ]

Let’s reinstate the long-form census
and expand the authority of the Chief Statistician!
- includes : Overview * Bill C-626 Text * News Articles * Ted's Bill in the Media * Endorsements * Blog Posts * Press Releases * What Can I Do?

In 2010, the Conservative government eliminated the long-form census, against the advice of the Chief Statistician and other experts at Statistics Canada. We need the data from the census so we can make the best possible decisions about important social services, to address employment and labour market needs, to make business investment decisions and to plan for the future.

My new private member's bill (see Bill C-626, below ] would bring back the mandatory long-form census. Debate on this bill began last week in Parliament and now we need your help to build momentum leading up to the vote expected in February.

The government replaced the former long-form census with a voluntary National Household Survey (NHS) [ ]. Unsurprisingly, the NHS data is of poor quality [ ] and can't be compared with previous census data. Experts who rely on this data, and the continuity of these data sets, call the NHS data worthless [ ]. That’s why I have put forward Bill C-626, a private member’s bill to reinstate the long-form census and expand the authority of the Chief Statistician. This bill will be up for debate this fall, and will come to a vote this winter


M.P. Ted Hsu's website
Liberal Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands

Bill C-626
An Act to Amend the Statistics Act

What can I do?
If you would like to help spread the word about Bill C-626, here are some ways you can help:
1) Call or write personally to your MP
2) Write a personal letter to your local newspaper
3) Ask your friends to help
4) Circulate a petition
5) Tweet your support on Twitter
6) Share your support on Facebook

Reinstatement of the Long-Form Census – Bill C-626
- includes links to a collection of helpful resources from Tracey Lauriault of [ ]


Bill C-626
An Act to amend the Statistics Act (appointment of Chief Statistician and long-form census)
[Reinstatement of the long-form Census questionnaire]
November 7, 2014
- includes a link to the full text of the Bill [ ] , the transcript of the House debate of November 7 (Click the tiny "see more" link in the left margin beside each speaker for the full text) and the complete statement by Ted Hsu upon tabling the Private Member's Bill on September 22, 2014.

Ted Hsu, Liberal

Introduced on September 22nd, 2014, as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Second reading (House), as of Nov. 7, 2014

This enactment amends the Statistics Act to establish a process to appoint the Chief Statistician of Canada. It also prescribes additional duties for the Chief Statistician and increases the independence of the Chief Statistician in carrying out his or her duties.

Further, it provides for a long-form questionnaire to be used for taking the census of population under that Act.

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Open Parliament


Related links:

Good Decisions Need Good Numbers:
Take action today to bring back the long-form census!
Right now (Nov. 9, 2014), there is a bill before parliament that proposes to amend the Statistics Act in order to reinstate the long form census and expand the authority of the Chief Statistician of Canada. MP Ted Hsu introduced Bill C-626 as a private member’s bill in September 20141. The bill is currently up for debate and will come to a vote this winter.
- Click the link above, then scroll halfway down the page to send an email message to your M.P. and the federal party leaders.
("Bring back the long-form census!" is the Subject Line of the prepared email message.)
If you scroll down past the message portion of the page, you'll find some background info on the mandatory long form census questionnaire and the National Household Survey. Near the bottom of the same page, you'll find links to 15 related articles and media releases.

Evidence for Democracy
Evidence for Democracy (E4D) advocates for the transparent use of science and evidence in public policy and government decision-making.A national, non-partisan, and not-for-profit organization, E4D formed out of concern over recent government cuts to important science institutions, and policies that restrict the flow of scientific information to the public.

"LIKE" the E4D Facebook page to receive
the most up-to-date information Bill C-626:

Eye-opening research stopped in its tracks: Goar
University of Toronto researcher David Hulchanski recounts how Ottawa destroyed his mapping device for urban poverty.
By Carol Goar
October 7, 2014
It took David Hulchanski five years to create the most sophisticated tool to track urban poverty ever devised. The work was painstaking. The result was startling and worrisome. It took Tony Clement five minutes — if that — to destroy Hulchanski’s mapping device.

“My research has been turned into a historical project,” the pioneering urban planner said disconsolately.
This is one of the first documented cases of the damage done by the Conservative government’s 2010 decision to scrap Canada’s mandatory, full-length census.

Toronto Star

Long Form Census Elimination Means Lots Of Missing Data, Says Internal Government Survey
By Dean Beeby
May 10, 2014
The Conservative government has touted the thousands of databases it is making public as proof of its openness and transparency. But key data users in a Treasury Board survey complained about one giant database that has actually disappeared: the long-form census, killed by the Harper government in 2011 and again for the 2016 census.

Huffington Post Canada


We are missing fundamentally important data
Voluntary surveys do not give us the reliable information we need
By Stephanie Baker Collins
May 06, 2014

We live in an information-rich world. We take for granted having accessible information at our fingertips on the World Wide Web. Beneath this easy assumption a darker reality is emerging. Canada as a nation is becoming information poor, especially poor in the form of independent, public information. And this poverty of information threatens our democracy.
Publicly available, independent information is essential to a healthy democracy. We know the same information can be used to different purposes and it can be used in manipulative ways. This doesn't mean, as some have concluded, that statistics are useless. On the contrary. It means it is vitally important to have an independent, public source of information that researchers can test for themselves and draw independent conclusions about those data.

Hamilton Spectator


Why Canada’s voluntary census is worthless.
David Hulchanski, Robert Murdie, Alan Walks and Larry Bourne
October 4, 2013
The voluntary nature of the NHS was controversial from the start. Can a voluntary survey ever substitute for a mandatory census? In July 2010 the head of Statistics Canada, Munir Sheikh, who was appointed to that position in 2008 by Mr. Harper, issued a short answer with his resignation: “It can not.”
Mr. Sheikh noted that he had no choice but to resign because he “always honoured” his “oath and responsibilities as a public servant as well as those specific to the Statistics Act.” It turns out that he is the one in the debate with the Prime Minister who was ‘right’ and the one who acted ‘honourably’ on our behalf.

The income data in the National Household Survey is not valid. It should not be used or cited. It should be withdrawn. The 2016 census should be restored to the non-politicized, non-partisan scientific methodology that existed prior to the flawed 2011 National Household Survey.


The authors of the above article are professors who direct the data analysis of the Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership [ ] based at the University of Toronto, a multi-year national research initiative funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


Globe and Mail

Hennessy's Index: Pseudo Census
October 1, 2013

NOTE : At the end of each statement in this issue of Hennessy's Index, there's a link to the source of that statement.
You won't find any of those links below, though - just click the link above to access the individual sources.

The year the federal government scrapped Canada’s mandatory long-form census, replacing it with a voluntary survey. It sparked a Save The Census campaign that drew the support of no fewer than 488 organizations and individuals.

July 21, 2010:
The date on which Munir Sheikh released a media advisory explaining his decision to step down as Statistics Canada’s chief statistician, saying the new voluntary National Household Survey (NHS) would be no substitute for the mandatory census.

The number of census subdivisions whose voluntary NHS response rates were so low that Statistics Canada had no choice but to remove them from the data outcomes.

The amount of voluntary NHS data that the city of Toronto says it will use to compare with previous census data. The city cites NHS reliability concerns when it comes to historical comparisons. [Source]

$22 million:
The additional cost of replacing the long-form census with the voluntary NHS

Hennessy's Index
... is a monthly listing of numbers, written by the CCPA's Trish Hennessy, about Canada and its place in the world. The home page includes links to all past editions.

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)

From the
Winnipeg Free Press:
[ ]

Bring back compulsory census
September 24, 2013
The picture painted by Statistics Canada's 2011 census and the new national household survey -- a second-rate stand-in for the former mandatory long-form questionnaire axed by the Harper government -- is clear, to a degree. Almost 15 per cent of Canadians, for example, are living on after-tax low incomes -- less than $39,000 for a family of four. And, almost 70 per cent of households owned their home.

But sorting through what that means -- who are they, exactly where are they living -- gets tough the further one tries to drill down in a province, city, town or neighbourhood. Some neighbourhoods don't even show up. That's because the voluntary survey, which was sent to a third of Canadian households last year, had some really low response rates and was unreliable in spots.

Census data do not simply allow governments to respond to need and businesses to plan for growth. They write the evolving story of the country for Canadians to understand each other and, in turn, themselves better. The Conservatives have muddied, severely, a chapter in one of the longest-running narratives Canada has had. It was a big mistake.

May 30, 2013
Newsletter for Communities : May 2013
HTML : [dead link]
PDF (536K, 6 pages) : [dead link]

Table of Contents:
The National Household Survey ... From Coast to Coast to Coast
Provincial and Territorial Highlights
In the Territories
NHS Profile
In the news
Recent releases from The Daily
Video: Tutorial for communities – Finding local census data
StatCan Video Challenge
More ways to stay connected
Questions or comments?
About the Newsletter for Communities
Statistics Canada surveys

Chronological index of Newsletters

Newsletter for Communities - Product main page
Statistics Canada's Newsletter for Communities offers information to those working for municipal and community organizations about Statistics Canada's data and services. The newsletter also offers links to data releases of the Census and National Household Survey, videos, tutorials, media advisories, learning sessions and presentations.
* On the product main page, click "View" to access the latest issue of the newsletter; click "Chronological index to access earlier issues (eight issues, going back to October 18, 2012)

National Household Survey (NHS) - home page

National Household Survey User Guide
HTML version :
PDF version (376K, 23 pages) :
[Excerpt] Between May and August 2011, Statistics Canada conducted the National Household Survey (NHS) for the first time. This voluntary, self-administered survey was introduced as a replacement for the long census questionnaire, more widely known as Census Form 2B. The NHS is designed to collect social and economic data about the Canadian population. The objective of the NHS is to provide data for small geographic areas and small population groups.


Related links:

From Global News:

Household survey not worth the price: Public health body
May 9, 2013
By Anna Mehler Paperny and Leslie Young
(...) because the National Household Survey was voluntary, the only thing the numbers tell us for sure is who fills out surveys.

Global News



Volunteer National Household Survey (V-NHS)
May 8, 2013
By Tracey
(Excerpt) The NHS data ... has been discussed with caveats as to accuracy and reliability, and of course the inability to compare with the past. Although, the reports are discussing trends, which means they are comparing, and, most likely erroneously with the past!
- includes 13 links to related articles in the printed/electronic media., from such sources as Macleans, CTV and CBC News, the Globe and Mail, Le Devoir and more...

Source: (Tracey Lauriault's blog)

United States:
Republican bills seek to curtail or end vital surveys by the Census Bureau

Strategic Ignorance
By the Editorial Board
May 24, 2013
In an age when knowledge is power, restricting knowledge is a power grab, creating the conditions of ignorance that allow bias, ideology and propaganda to flourish, unchallenged and unchecked.

New York Times


By Gilles:
This New York Times editorial discusses the implications of the two pending Republican bills "that seek to curtail or end vital surveys by the Census Bureau, and that could advance as early as next month."

Sound familiar?
In 2010, the Harper Government™ eliminated the long-form Census questionnaire in Canada.

Here's how the NYTimes Editorial sums up the Canadian experience:
"Canada recently replaced its mandatory long-form census with a voluntary survey — and now lives with the sorry results. To try to get an adequate level of response, the voluntary survey was sent to one in three Canadians instead of one in five, which increased costs. The response rate plunged anyway, from 94 percent to 68 percent. In a staggering one-fourth of Canadian communities, not enough people responded to make the data usable."

October 2012:
The long form Census questionnaire chickens have come home to roost.

From the Globe and Mail :

New language data may be skewed as a result of shift to voluntary census survey
By Joe Friesen
October 26, 2012
When Statistics Canada languages expert Jean-Pierre Corbeil sat down to look over the new language data from the 2011 census, he did a double take. The numbers did not make sense. This is bizarre, he thought. Patterns of linguistic change established over decades appeared to have suddenly shifted. What he was seeing is the first knock-on effect of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to replace the mandatory long-form census with a voluntary survey. The impact is still hard to judge, but what’s clear is that the new numbers are less reliable as a barometer of change.
The unusual results may stem from the controversial killing of the long-form census, which traditionally contained the language questions.
(...) the method of gathering the new data makes it difficult to assess where Canada is going in comparison to where it has been. Experts say these questions will only grow more complicated as results from the voluntary survey start to roll in next year.

Globe and Mail


Here's another perspective
from the CBC on the same issue:

Long-form census cancellation taking toll on StatsCan data
Questions raised over how data can be used reliably
October 27, 2012
Statistics Canada states bluntly in a box included in its census material : "Data users are advised to exercise caution when evaluating trends related to mother tongue and home language that compare 2011 census data to those of previous censuses." Those are strong words for a statistical agency, since they raise profound questions about how the data can be used reliably to come to conclusions about language trends.
CBC News

Accountability begins at home [dead link]
September 23, 2011
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's use of the words "if it matters, measure it" at the United Nations this week has, understandably, raised some eyebrows at home. The comments, part of a speech on maternal health, came just as an essay by the former head of Statistics Canada criticizing the Conservative government's decision to cancel the mandatory long-form census was made public. Munir Sheikh, who resigned over the government's handling of the issue last year, had this to say in his essay: "No country can be among the league of civilized societies without intelligent policy development. And, intelligent policy development is not possible without good data."
Ottawa Citizen

Related link:

Ex-chief statistician picks apart cancellation of long census
By Heather Scoffield
September 20, 2011
OTTAWA—The federal government cancelled the long-form census with little heed to the consequences of its decision, according to a new first-hand account of the drama that unfolded a year ago. An essay by former chief statistician Munir Sheikh says the census decision has shaken Statistics Canada’s neutrality and independence, and put at risk the government’s own work in many areas.
Toronto Star


Good Data and Intelligent Government:
New Directions for Intelligent Government in Canada
(full screen)
By Munir A. Sheikh
Excerpt from
the Concluding Remarks:
The census issue has put a pointer on the fact that the good outcomes cannot be taken for granted. This paper has provided a list of issues that should be dealt with, with some focused on the government and others at Statistics Canada.
[ NOTE: The essay also appears in the above Toronto Star article. Click "View in full screen".]

United States

Don’t kill America’s databook
By Robert J. Samuelson
August 21, 2011
If you want to know something about America, there are few better places to start than the “Statistical Abstract of the United States.”[See below.] Published annually by the Census Bureau, the Stat Abstract assembles about 1,400 tables describing our national condition. (...) The Stat Abstract is headed for the chopping block. The 2012 edition, scheduled for publication later this year, will be the last, unless someone saves it. (...) It can be argued that much of what’s in the Stat Abstract is online somewhere. True — but irrelevant. Many government and private databases are hard to access and search, even if you know what you want. Often, you don’t. The Stat Abstract has two great virtues. First, it conveniently presents in one place a huge amount of information from a vast array of government and private sources. (...) Second, the footnotes show where to get more information. (...) Without the Stat Abstract, statistics will become more hidden, and our collective knowledge will suffer. Must this be? If Census doesn’t rescind its misguided death sentence, the agency could contract with some wealthy private foundation to support the abstract.
Washington Post


From the
U.S. Census Bureau:

The 2011 Statistical Abstract
The Statistical Abstract of the United States is the standard summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States. It is also designed to serve as a guide to other statistical publications and sources. The latter function is served by the introductory text to each section, the source note appearing below each table, and Appendix I, which comprises the Guide to Sources of Statistics, the Guide to State Statistical Abstracts, and the Guide to Foreign Statistical Abstracts. [ Excerpt from the Overview ]

Click the link above to scan the 2011 Statistical Abstract Table of contents
and download the individual sections in PDF format. Move your cursor over the list of sections in the left-hand margin to see the content of each of those sections.
[Most stats tables are for 2008 or 2009.]

Population - Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Divorces - Health and Nutrition - Education - Law Enforcement, Courts, and Prisons - Geography and Environment - Elections - State and Local Government Finances and Employment - Federal Government Finances and Employment - National Security and Veterans Affairs - Social Insurance and Human Services - Labor Force, Employment, and Earnings - Income, Expenditures, Poverty, and Wealth - Prices - Business Enterprise - Science and Technology - Agriculture - Forestry, Fishing, and Mining - Energy and Utilities - Construction and Housing - Manufactures - Wholesale and Retail Trade - Transportation - Information and Communications - Banking, Finance, and Insurance - Arts, Recreation, and Travel - Accommodation, Food Services, and Other Services - Foreign Commerce and Aid - Puerto Rico and the Island Areas - International Statistics
Appendix I. Guide to Sources of Statistics 879-893
Appendix I. Guide to State Statistical Abstracts 894-897
Appendix I. Guide to Foreign Statistical Abstracts 898-899
Appendix II. Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas: Concepts, Components, and Population 900-920
Appendix III. Limitations of the Data 921-946
Appendix IV. Weights and Measures 947
Appendix V. Tables Deleted From Earlier Editions of the Statistical Abstract 949-950
Index 951-1010
Map of the United States, Showing Census Regions and Divisions Cover

Earlier editions of the Statistical Abstract - right back to 1789!

From The Daily [Statistics Canada]:

June 14, 2011
2008 Census Test: Content Analysis Report
Forward *
[The long-form Census questionnaire and the National Housing Survey]

The 2008 Census Test: Content Analysis Report provides the testing results of the proposed questions for the 2011 Census, that is, the 2A short-form and 2B long-form questionnaires. The proposed content for the 2011 Census was informed by the results of ongoing consultation with data users and stakeholders, thorough qualitative and quantitative (statistical) testing, and evaluation of previous census results and other data sources. (...) The 2011 Census will consist of the same eight questions that appeared on the 2006 Census short-form questionnaire, with the addition of two questions on language. It will be conducted in May 2011. The census 2A questionnaire underwent additional qualitative testing in Ottawa to obtain feedback on the new format and the additional language questions.The information previously collected by the long-form census questionnaire will be collected as part of the new voluntary National Household Survey (NHS).
* Hey, StatCan!
is a direction.
Foreword is an introduction or a preface.

Immigration costs Canada billions: Fraser Institute
By Chris Doucette
May 17, 2011
TORONTO - Newcomers to the country generally make less money and chip in less in taxes than the national average. And allowing 250,000 immigrants into the country annually is costing us all billions of dollars each and every year, according to a study by the Fraser Institute. The study, dubbed Immigration and the Canadian Welfare State, sharply criticizes Canada's current immigration system, using earnings and other figures from the 2005-06 fiscal year reported by 844,476 people in the 2006 Census. It claims the group as a whole earned on average about $10,000 more and paid about $2,500 more in income taxes annually than those within the sampling who had settled in Canada in the previous 18 years. The study also found immigrants typically pay a little over $6,000 less in property and sales taxes than the national average. That means the approximately 3.9 million immigrants who settled in Canada between 1987 and 2004 are shortchanging federal government coffers by between $16.3 billion and $23.6 billion annually, depending on how many of those newcomers have moved back home, emigrated elsewhere or died, the study said.
[ Comments (105) ]
Toronto Sun

The Fraser Institute:

Immigration and the Canadian Welfare State
May 17, 2011
By Patrick Grady and Herbert Grubel
This publication provides an estimate of the fiscal burden created by recent immigration into Canada and proposes reforms to existing immigrant selection policies to eliminate the burden. It uses a 2006 Census database to estimate the average incomes and taxes paid on these by immigrants who arrived in Canada over the period from 1987 to 2004. It also estimates other taxes they paid and the value of government services they absorbed. (...) To curtail this growing fiscal burden from immigration, the study proposes that temporary work visas be granted to applicants who have a valid offer for employment from employers, in occupations and at pay levels specified by the federal government and determined in cooperation with private-sector employers. Immediate dependents may accompany successful applicants. The temporary visas are renewable and lead to landed immigrant status if certain specified employment criteria are met.

Complete report:

Immigration and the Canadian Welfare State (PDF - 4.2MB, 62 pages)
"We propose changes in Canada’s immigrant selection process that are not anti-immigrant, but are instead aimed at replacing the present failed system with one that uses market forces to select immigrants and thus to determine the level of annual inflows."

The Fraser Institute
Our vision is a free and prosperous world where individuals benefit from greater choice, competitive markets, and personal responsibility. Our mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government interventions on the welfare of individuals.


COMMENTARY (by Gilles):

If you start a conversation with a statement like, "Well, I'm no xenophobic ideologue, but...", chances are that you are a xenophobic ideologue. The authors "propose changes in Canada’s immigrant selection process that are not anti-immigrant..." - to which I would add "...well, perhaps not anti-ALL-immigrants --- just anti-poor immigrants."


I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I found the source reference below.

"The 2006 Census public use microdata file on individuals contains 844,476 records, representing 2.7% of the Canadian population. These records
were drawn from a sample of one-fifth of the Canadian population (sample data from questionnaire 2B)"

Questionnaire 2B is the long form Census questionnaire.
That's the one that the Harper Government ™ replaced with a voluntary survey that, according to the experts, won't be worth the $30 million cost.
Welcome to the Era of The Harper Government ™.


- Go to the Social Research Organizations (II) in Canada page:

Short-form census makes debut Monday
April 28, 2011
By Bruce Campion-Smith
OTTAWA—It’s controversial, political divisive and could have a lasting effect on how Canadians see their country. And it’s not Monday’s election. It’s the census and missing this year are the detailed long-form questionnaires that have helped many corners of Canadian society plan for the future. Yet many experts warn that the loss of the mandatory long-form census — and its questions on education, employment and commuting habits — risks leaving Canadians in the dark about their changing lifestyles and trends.

“That’s my firm belief,” said Ivan Fellegi, who served as chief statistician at Statistics Canada for 23 years. “But more important than that, we will not only have less knowledge about ourselves, we will have the wrong knowledge about ourselves because we won’t know what’s right and what’s wrong."
Toronto Star

Is census data usable?
‘Our thinking has evolved,’ chief statistician says

By Steven Chase and Tavia Grant
February 14, 2011
This a full transcript of an interview with Wayne Smith, who was officially named Statistics Canada’s new chief statistician last month. He took over from Munir Sheikh, who resigned last summer amid the controversy over the Harper government’s decision to cancel the mandatory long-form census. The Conservatives defended their decision on grounds it was intrusive and coercive to force one-fifth of Canadian households to answer a detailed list of 40-plus questions on their home, work life and ethnicity.

Excerpt (the two concluding paragraphs of the interview transcript):

Q. Would you prefer the old system to this one?

A. Obviously, I’m a public servant...

Q. Has it (the long-form Census decision) made your job harder?

[ Long answer: ]
It's challenging, obviously. We have changed course and changing course is obviously more complex than staying on the course you were initially on. But we have changed course very nimbly and we were ready. In terms of our ability to conduct this, we are ready. We have the systems, we've tested the systems, we're hiring the people, we’ve got the logistics in place, we're already operating, there's no problem from my perspective in terms of us being able to conduct this census. Relative to 2006, we had huge problems, we had huge problems hiring in some parts of the country in 2006, we're not seeing that this time around.
The issue now, is, to a significant extent, in the hands of Canadians. Will they participate? If they participate in large numbers, if people encourage them to participate, if they participate across the country and relatively uniformly, we can get very good data out of this survey."

[ Short answer, by Gilles: ]


Globe and Mail

Study on Open Government:
A view from local community and university based research

Submission to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics:
Study on Open Government

By Tracey Lauriault
February 13, 2011

The dénouement:
No penalty for Sask. woman who refused census [dead link]
January 20, 2011
Sandra Finley was found guilty of violating the Statistics Act that required her to fill out the 2006 census. The Saskatoon woman found guilty after refusing to fill out a long-form census has received an absolute discharge. Sandra Finley was found guilty last week in provincial court of violating the Statistics Act and faced a maximum fine of $500 and a jail sentence of three months. Instead, Judge Sheila Whelan granted a discharge Thursday, which means there will be no penalty.
CBC News

The issue:
Saskatchewan woman guilty of census refusal [dead link]
Sandra Finley says she's also concerned that
Statistics Canada used the services of a U.S. military contractor, Lockheed Martin Canada.
January 14, 2011
A Saskatoon woman who refused to fill out a long-form census has been found guilty of violating Canada's census law. A provincial court judge ruled Thursday that community activist Sandra Finley's privacy rights were not violated by the requirement to fill out the long form in 2006. It's the same form, containing detailed questions about households that the Conservative federal government now says should not be mandatory. Finley was charged before the government made that decision.
CBC News

NOTE: The "Comments" section at the bottom of of this article contains 412 comments, the most popular of which was the following admonition from wise commenter "v0ci3cau3a", who wrote:

Canada asks precious little of their citizens. There is no mandatory military service. You can choose your religion, your school, your career. All they ask if that if called, you perform jury duty, and if asked, you fill out a long form census. You have to be extraordinarily self centered, selfish and unappreciative of all that this country and those who serve for it do for you, your family, your neighbours and your nation, to not fill in a census.

Nine hundred and eleven people agreed with this view.
I'm one of them.


Census battle too important to give up
[dead link]
By Eric W. Sager
January 19, 2011
(...) Prime Minister Stephen Harper has decided that taxpayers will pay $80 million for a survey that may be of little use. Instead we will get ongoing debates over the validity of the results, expensive efforts to compensate for bias and more outrage from those who require reliable data for efficient planning.
Of course the long-form census can be an intrusion on our time. But since it goes to only a fifth of households, the odds are that you would be asked to fill it out only once in 25 years. Is half an hour of your time, once every 25 years, too high a price for efficient policy planning and the other public benefits the census provides? The fuss over the census is not over, because the prime minister's decision is an attack on cost-effective planning, on evidence-based policy making and on the right of Canadians to high-quality statistical knowledge of their country. Canadians will continue to protest, and so they should.
[ Eric W. Sager is a member of the history department at the University of Victoria. ]
Victoria Times-Colonist


Some recent Census news

* Race Questions and the Census - January 11, 2011
* Census update from Save the Census Campaign
- January 6, 2011
* Abolition to StatCan Cost Recovery Policy on the Census
- January 6, 2011


Some basic Census links from Statistics Canada:

The 2011 Census questionnaire
Brief explanation of the replacement of the long-form Census questionnaire with the National Housing Survey (NHS); includes links to the Census 2011 questions and the NHS questions.

The National Household Survey
Information previously collected by the mandatory long-form census questionnaire will be collected as part of the new voluntary National Household Survey (NHS).
Click the link above to see the list of themes covered by the NHS questions along with a link to the actual NHS questionnaire.

National Household survey: data quality
" is believed that the most significant source of non-sampling error for the National Household Survey will be non-response bias. All surveys are subject to non-response bias, even a Census with a 98% response rate. The risk of non-response bias quickly increases as the response rate declines. This is because, in general, non-respondents tend to have characteristics that are different than those of the respondents and thus the results are not representative of the true population. Given that the National Household Survey is anticipated to achieve a response rate of only 50% there is a substantial risk of non-response bias. (...) The effectiveness of our mitigation strategies to offset non-response bias and other quality limiting effects is largely unknown. For these reasons, it is difficult to anticipate the quality level of the final outcome."

Private Sector Involvement
The total cost of the 2011 Census over a period of seven years is estimated at $600 million. The census relies on a number of goods and services from the private sector. The value of the anticipated requirements from the private sector is estimated at $100 million

Census consultation
* The 2011 Census and Geography Dissemination Consultation centred on the dissemination strategy for the upcoming census and was conducted from October 2008 to March 2009.
* The 2011 Census Content Consultation focussed on the questionnaire content for the next Census of Population and was held from April to November 2007.
* 2011 Census Content Consultation Guide - presents the 2011 Census context, proposed content directions and key milestones.
* The
2011 Census Content Consultation Report presents the findings generated during the April to November 2007 consultation period.
* 2011 Census milestones from the Consultation on Content (April to Nov. 2007) to the major releases of 2011 Census data (Feb. 2012 to Nov. 2014)

Census of Agriculture - still compulsory, with penalties under section 31 of The Statistics Act

Census Home Page - incl. links to earlier censuses (censi??)

Order the 2011 Census Teacher's Kit

#1 recommended source for
comprehensive information on the Census long form: is a blog that's maintained mostly by Tracey Lauriault.
It's inspired by, which believes all levels of Canadian governments should make civic information and data accessible at no cost in open formats to their citizens.

Tracey is also responsible for the Census Watch page.

Latest Census-related
blog posts from

NOTE: Links to the latest posts appear in the left-hand margin of the home page.

European Union scolds Harper government for StatsCan controversy [dead link]
By Shannon Proudfoot
November 23, 2010
The European Union's statistical gurus have taken the Canadian government to task for denting the professional independence of Statistics Canada through the census debate. In the newly released report, the European Statistical Governance Advisory Board decries the government's decision to replace the mandatory long-form census with a voluntary survey, citing Canada as a cautionary tale of statistical agencies losing their traditional autonomy.
Ottawa Citizen

* The Real Census informs Neighbourhood Research in Canada - October 28, 2010
Ms. Tracey P. Lauriault discusses neighbourhood scale research using Census data. She introduces the The Cybercartographic Pilot Atlas of the Risk of Homelessness created at the Geomatics and Cartographic Research and will feature community based research used to inform public policy as part of the Canadian Social Data Strategy (CSDS) . She features maps and data about social issues in Canadian cities & metropolitan areas (e.g. Calgary, Toronto, Halton, Sault Ste. Marie, hamilton, Ottawa, Montreal, & others) and focuses on the importance of local analysis and what the loss of the Long-Form Census could mean to evidence based decision making to communities in Canada.


Change Canada’s Statistics Act – 2 bills, 1 motion, 3 court challenges
October 26, 2010

* On October 21, 2010 Brian Masse, NDP MP Windsor West, tabled a bill entitled An Act to Amend the Statistics Act (Chief Statistician)
* On September 30, 2010 Carolyn Bennett tabled a Private Member’s Bill in the House of Commons that would amend the Statistics Act and enshrine the long-form census into the act.

* On September 24, 2010, the Liberals presented a motion in the House of Commons to immediately re-instate the long-form Census questionnaire. The Motion was passed in the House by a majority of MPs on September 29, 2010

Court challenges:
1. Canadian Council for Social Development: The Right to be Counted
2. Native Council of Nova Scotia, Maritime Aboriginal Peoples Council, New Brunswick Aboriginal People’s Council, the Native Council of Prince Edward Island, and some individual chiefs.
3. Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA)

* New Census Legal Challenge – Fighting for the Equal Right to be Counted… - October 22
* - October 19
* Census vs Voluntary Survey response rate estimates - October 18
* 2006 Long Form Census compared to the Proposed National Household Survey - October 12
* 2006 Short Form Census and 2011 Census Comparison - October 11
* StatCan Cuts – Loss of Surveys & Census - October 11
* Rick Mercer Rant : the Long-Form Census (video) - So how controling *is* Stephen Harper, Rick?
* Census Media Round-up (October 8) --- 87 links!
NOTE: You may have to cut and paste the URLs into your browser.
* Census Articles in Canadian Public Policy (October 8) - links to four articles
* Right to Know Week - September 29
A response to Mr. Clement about his response to my letter on the Census - By Tracey - September 24
* Tony and the Census in 2.5 D
- video segment from the Rick Mercer Report ("Tony Clement --- a true champion against scientific data!")
* Census Media Roundup - September 20 (38 links)
* Big Census Media Roundup - September 11 (34 links)
* Working with Census Data – Ontario’s Social Landscape: Socio-demographic trends and conditions in communities - September 8
* Weekend Census Media Roundup - September 7 (18 links)
* Data is the new soil – The beauty of data visualization - September 4
* Canadian Health – Save the Census Videos - September 4 (7 videos by health professionals)
* Census Media Roundup - September 3 (19 links)
* Health-care professionals protest cuts to long form census - September 2
* Special Committee Meeting on the Census available on CPAC - August 31
* Comparison of Census Questions 1871-2011 -
August 30
* Weekend Census Media Roundup - August 30 (37 links)
* Nice way to Report Census Data – 100 person village - August 29
* Liberals announce An Act to amend the Statistics Act (mandatory long-form census) - August 26
* Wednesday Census Media Roundup
- August 25 (9 links)
* Shrinking Census Data Reports - A
ugust 25
* Tuesday Census Media Roundup - August 24 (19 links)
* Weekend Census Media Roundup -
August 24 (28 links)
* Guest Authors: A Critical Analysis of Privacy and Coercion
Related to the Debate About the Long Form Census in 2011
August 23
Guest authors:
W.T. Stanbury, Professor Emeritus, University of British Columbia
Ernie Boyko, Adjunct Data Librarian, Carleton University Library Data Centre
- systematic refutation of each of the Tor speaking points on the issue
* Census Action Kits - August 22
* Thursday Census Media Roundup
- August 20 (7 links)
* Wednesday Census Media Roundup
- August 18 (22 links)
* Census Actions
- August 17 (Ten things YOU can do to help the cause.)
* Lots of Census Media!
- August 16 (76 links)
* Census humour - August 12 (7 links to editorial cartoons)
* 2 days – Census Media Roundup
- August 12 (41 links)
* Tuesday Census Media Roundup
- August 11 (24 links)
* Monday Census Media Roundup
- August 10 (34 links)
* INDU Committee (Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology)
Transcript of the Special Meeting on the Census-Tuesday, July 27, 2010
- August 10
- includes a link to the Official transcript from the 40th PARLIAMENT, 3rd SESSION Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology EVIDENCE Tuesday, July 27, 2010, Meeting 29
...Wherein Tony Clement insists that his government will stop threatening Canadians with fines and/or jail time for not completing the 40-page census long form AND that the short-form census of population remains mandatory, but that "...StatsCan will ...use a variety of non-coercive methods to encourage Canadians to respond to the survey." In a weird sort of way, this argument reminds me of the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition sketch where the weapons of choice were the comfy chair and the soft cushions
[ ].
Back in the real world, though, one would think that many of those who would refuse to answer the long questionnaire would also refuse to answer the short questionnaire, on principle (misguided or not). This is such a fascinating aspect of the whole affair that it almost makes one forget that it's a total red herring. Of course Tony and Steve understand all of that. This isn't about a misunderstanding on their part --- it's all going according to The Plan.
(By Gilles )

Mr. Bean

Tony Clement

* Weekend Census Media Roundup - August 8 (37 links)
* Aug. 6 Census Media Roundup - August 6 (21 links)
* Aug 4 & 5 Media Roundup -
August 6 (41 links)
* Tuesday Media Roundup -
August 4 (50 links)
* The Wire – Juking the Stats -
August 4
: American street slang: To intentionally confuse, distort, outmaneuver or misdirect attention away from what is real to favor what is illusory, imagined, or a more desirable outcome.")
NOTE: the 'juking" link above refers to Treasury Board Minister Stockwell Day's use of imaginary numbers --- the “alarming rate of unreported crimes” --- to justify building prisons.
* On Unpaid (censusless) Work - August 3
* Monday’s Census Media Roundup - August 3
* Good King Censusless – Lyrics
- August 2
* Canceled/Cut Government Surveys
- August 2
- including the Youth In Transition Survey, the National Longitudinal Survey on Children and Youth, the National Apprenticeship Survey, and the Program for International Student Assessment...
* Cartoons
- August 2
* Media Roundup July 29-Aug. 1
* Just a bit more late night census news -
July 28 (16 links)
* Tuesday & Wednesday Census Media Roundup - July 28 (82 links)
* About the National Statistics Council of Canada - July 28
* Monday Census Media Roundup - July 27 (28 links)
* Government coercion in perspective: where does the long form of the census fit?
- July 27
* Canadian Census Compromise and New Chief
- July 26
* Weekend Census Media Roundup
- July 26 (17 links)
* Friday Media Roundup
- July 24 (36 links)

Major Federal Legislative Census Requirements
July 19, 2010
- list of only the major requirements; there are over 80 pieces of legislation and acts that require census data for the operationalization and implementation of the act’s related programs, services, etc.

Uses of Census Long-form data – Question Justification
July 19, 2010
By Tracey Lauriault
As part of her PhD dissertation research, Tracey Lauriault has been investigating the Census of Canada right back to 1871. This post to the blog is a summary list of 36 questions on the long form [ See 2006 Census questionnaires and guides ] and the rationale for including each one in the Census.
Clear rebuttals to Tony Clement's speaking points!
Two examples:
Why does government need to know the number of bedrooms in your home?
Because It helps to evaluate overcrowding, dwelling size, housing condition and quality of life.
Why does government need to know how you get to work each day?
To help plan urban growth and transportation networks, environmental impact and energy consumption with transportation


NOTE: Although is a group project, Tracey Lauriault is the principal (i.e, sole) author of the content copied here.

History of the Census of Canada [dead link]
Censuses before Confederation
The first national census in 1871
The beginnings of census traditions
Canada's growing population: censuses at the turn of the century
The creation of the Bureau of Statistics in 1918
The changing census between the World Wars
The postwar years
The contemporary census
The 2001 Census
Statistics Canada

Another support/dissent snapshot taken on July 20, 2010

Census Supporters Numerous - from pretty random blog
- list of opponents and supporters, dated July 20
- includes newspaper editorial boards, Members of Parliament and political parties, provincial and municipal governments, associations, boards, groups, charities, think-tanks, and more...

The "protest" songs:

John Campey and the Data Hounds say Count Me In! (YouTube video)
The original hit by JC and the DHs, a real toe-tapper that went viral and garnered close to 7,500 views after it was featured on the national TV news in mid-July.

Creating Harper Hysteria (National Post)
(note the comment about a “lame protest song”):

Count Me In! coverage compilation (YouTube video)
- newsclips from all the major network news shows on the subject of the Harper decision and the public backlash


Non-violent protest supporting Census detainees (YouTube video)
August 05, 2010
"John Campey and the Data Hounds" hold a demonstration outside Toronto's Don Jail to show support for all those Canadians who've been incarcerated for failure to fill out the long form census. Which would be nobody. [ For lyrics, click the down arrow that's located beside the number of views beneath the video.]

1. The rest of this page is (mostly) in reverse chronological order, with the most recent addition at the top of the page.
2. I've pretty much given up trying to stay on top of the avalanche of media coverage of this issue because
Tracey Lauriault of offers extensive media links (see above).
Join the fight to save the Long Form Census in Canada!
This website was created and is hosted and maintained by Social Planning Toronto

Save the Census Update - December 8, 2010
* Vaughan and Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette by-elections
* News from From Parliament Hill
* Liberal Private Members Bill to be debated Wednesday December 9th
* Minutes from, and evidence presented at, HUMA and Status of Women Committee hearings on the impact of the loss of the Mandatory Long Form Census
* Media Coverage
---- December 5, 2010--Professors may need more funding after census changes
--- December 2, 2010--Federal Departments detailed potential census impact a year ago
--- Other articles about the census and our campaign
* Save the Census on Facebook and Twitter
* Charter Challenge:
The Canadian Council on Social Development has joined with twelve other organizations to launch a legal challenge to protect Canadians’ “Right to be Counted.” Our Charter challenge has been accepted by the Courts, however we have not been given a date yet for our hearing. We will keep you informed of any progress on this piece.
* Donate!
Thank you for taking the time to read this important update.
John Campey (Social Planning Toronto)
Peggy Taillon (Canadian Council on Social Development)

Related link:

Canadian Council on Social Development

Right hook weakens Canada
By Frances Russell
November 3, 2010
The more tax fairness erodes in Canada, the more unfair taxation will become. (...) Right-wing populism hurts right-wing populists most. As low- and middle-income earners, they are the most reliant on the services governments, particularly municipal governments, provide -- public transit, parks and recreational facilities, libraries, police, garbage collection, maintenance of municipal infrastructure, housing and front-line social services.
This summer, Ottawa scored another huge victory in the right-wing war against government. By killing the 2011 long form census, the Harper Conservatives have ensured Canadians will no longer have the reliable data even to know how quickly the gap is growing between rich and poor and how wide it is becoming.
Winnipeg Free Press

Speaking of open data Initiatives, evidence based decision making,
accountable government and the long form Census questionnaire...
(Two presentations on open data
and open government by Tracey Lauriault)

OpenData & Public Research
October 28, 2010
In Canada, much university research is supported by public funds and an argument can be made that the results of that research should be accessible to the public. (...) In Canada some data are accessible, but mostly data are not, and if they are, cost recovery policies and regressive licensing impede their use. The talk will feature examples where data are open and where opportunities for evidence based decision making are restricted.

Open Data Initiatives in Canada:
One part of the Open Government Conversation
October 28
Canada’s Information Commissioners have adopted a resolution toward Open Government and part of the open government process is open access to public administrative, census, map and research data...

Source: - the most comprehensive online resource on the Census questionnaire issue!

How to Lower Poverty Without Really Trying
By Andrew Jackson
October 25, 2010
Followers of statistical entrails have known for some time that the incidence of poverty (sorry, low income) varies between surveys. The Census - which covers 20% of the population - captures significantly more low income persons than does the annual Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID) which is based on a much smaller sample which is followed for a period of time. The
numbers for 2005 suggest that the replacement of the long form Census with a National Household Survey will lead to a significant reduction in measured low income.
Progressive Economics Forum Blog
[ Progressive Economics Forum ] - "Science that Protects You"

Government Scientists Go Public: Website will Speak Up for Science
News Release
October 18, 2010
Today, the union that represents federal government scientists launches a campaign to put the spotlight on science for the public good. (...) The recent decision to end the mandatory long form census is the latest step in a worrying trend away from evidence-based policy making. Restrictive rules are curtailing media and public access to scientists, while cutbacks to research and monitoring limit Canada’s ability to deal with serious threats and potential opportunities.
The site aims to highlight science done for the public good – much of it taxpayer-funded and carried out by government scientists – and to “mobilize” scientists and the public to pressure politicians to support it. It features interviews with federal scientists about their work, along with interviews with science policy experts. (CBC)
Part of what inspired the creation of was the cancellation of the Long-Form Census. is a new initiative sponsored by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada.

[ Version française du site: : "La science qui vous protège"]


A guide for using statistics for evidence based policy, 2010
22 October 2010
There in an increasing emphasis within Australia on using good statistical information in policy-making. This guide provides an overview of how data can be used to make well informed policy decisions.
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Recommended reading for Stephen Harper's Office...

Ottawa spent $1-million to test run census before abrupt Tory change
By Jennifer Ditchburn
Ottawa— The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010A million-dollar test run, privacy checks and extensive consultations on the 2011 census were all in place only a month before the Conservative government decided to scrap the long questionnaire this spring.
Internal Statistics Canada documents shed light on just how abrupt the decision was for the agency, which prepares for the census and analyses the data over a period of seven years.
Globe and Mail

Language-rights groups hit snag in battle for census
October 5, 2010
OTTAWA—Language-rights groups have hit a snag in their campaign to revive the mandatory long-form census. Canada’s commissioner of official languages has issued a preliminary ruling saying he does not have the power to reverse a decision made by politicians, and can only look at how departments implement policy. Graham Fraser nevertheless slaps the federal cabinet on the wrist, warning that it could be held accountable if its decision to eliminate the mandatory long-form questionnaire winds up hurting francophones living outside Quebec or anglophones living within Quebec. “The commissioner remains concerned about the possible impact this decision could have on the vitality of official language minority communities and on the application of the Official Languages Act,” says the interim ruling issued recently to complainants.
Toronto Star

From Armine Yalnizyan
(of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives):

Ontario, Quebec call census decision a “mistake”
September 29, 2010
Cabinet ministers from the governments of Ontario and Quebec have sent a letter to Minister Tony Clement, calling the census decision a “mistake” and asking that the federal government “reverse this course of action as soon as possible”. The provinces, together, represent 62% of the labour market and spend billions of dollars every year on training and education. The Ministers responsible for those public expenditures point out that the Harper government’s decision on the census will make it impossible to reliably know how the labour market is changing, and if the taxpayers dollars being spent on training and education is being targeted appropriately.

It’s Not too Late to Fix the Census
By Armine Yalnizyan
September 24, 2010
Everyone knows that the Harper government’s decision on the census is destructive madness, including the Harper government. But there is a growing sense that it’s too late to reverse the decision. It’s not.

Saving Statistics Canada
By Armine Yalnizyan
September 22, 2010
On September 9th, Canada’s Prime Minister received a letter from Mel Cappe, David Dodge, Alex Himelfarb and Ivan Fellegi. It opened with a stern warning that government actions with regard to the census over the summer “put the well earned credibility and respected international standing of Statistics Canada at risk”. Then they told him how to fix the problem. (...)
Summer’s over. Parliament is back. The vote to end the long-gun registry came and went, with the Harper team threatening to get more serious about killing it in future. It’s time to get more serious about the other threats we face as a society.
The census decision is one of those threats, for the reasons noted by Messrs Dodge, Cappe, Himelfarb and Fellegi. Parliamentarians will find themselves revisiting it many times this fall. There’s one simple way to stare down that threat: Adopt the Fellegi amendment (for short)...

Blog : Relentlessly Progressive Economics
Part of:
Progressive Economics Forum
The Progressive Economics Forum aims to promote the development of a progressive economics community in Canada. The PEF brings together over 125 progressive economists, working in universities, the labour movement, and activist research organizations.

From Jennefer Laidley

The Census form:

Reinstatement motion passes – Conservatives will ignore it:

Toronto Sun:
Tories reject census defeat

They’re not budging – stubbornness over leadership:
PM ‘confusing stubbornness with leadership’ over census, Ignatieff says

Opposition, provinces fail to stir Tories from census position

Hamilton Spectator:
Census lie exposed


Thanks to Jennefer Laidley of the Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC) in Toronto
for sharing the above links. Visit BOTH of ISAC's websites!

ISAC website:

Social Assistance Review website:

Morale at StatsCan cautious, Fellegi pushes for Statistics Act amendments
Methodological decisions should be based on science alone, not politics: Fellegi.
By Jessica Bruno
September 13, 2010
The mood at Statistics Canada is cautious, seven weeks after its chief statistician Munir Sheikh quit because he didn't agree with the government's move to scrap the mandatory long-form census, say sources inside and close to Statistics Canada. "I think everybody's holding their breath to see what going to happen next," said Armine Yalnizyan, a senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives who has been a vocal national opponent of the government's move to end the mandatory long-form census, referring to employees at Statistics Canada.
The Hill Times

Government study reveals significant errors in voluntary census
Simulation done before Ottawa scrapped long-form census found data was skewed
By Steven Chase
September 9, 2010
A study conducted by Statistics Canada weeks before Ottawa revealed its plan to scrap the mandatory long-form census found that significant errors can creep into survey results gathered on a voluntary basis.
Globe and Mail

How Census-gate will change Canada - special series
August 26, 2010
The Mark's contributors give 11 reasons why the controversy around the future of Canada's mandatory long-form census just won't go away

* A Conservative Experiment in Faux Populism, by Taufiq Rahim, Strategy adviser, political analyst, and writer based in Dubai
* Canada: Now Easier for Harper to Change, by Andrew Lang, Candidate, Toronto-Danforth, Liberal Party of Canada
* What NGOs Won't Know Will Hurt Us, by Jill Atkey, Research Director, B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association
* Towards a Dumbed-Down Future, by Alan Broadbent, Expert in urban issues; leader in Canadian politics and public discourse
* Who Will Be The Next Chief Statistician?, by Armine Yalnizyan, Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
* Paying More For Poorer Data, by Roger Gibbins, President and CEO, the Canada West Foundation
* Making Neighbourhoods Unknowable, by Janet Gasparini, Chair, Social Planning Network of Ontario
* Big Government, Bad Government, by Stephen Gordon, Professor of Economics, Laval University
* The End Of The Enlightenment, by Jacquetta Newman, Associate Professor of Political Science, King's University College, UWO
* Trouble for Transit, by Kate Chappell , Journalist and commentator on politics and business
* A Blow to Community Health, by Frances Lankin, President and CEO, United Way Toronto

The Mark - The people and ideas behind the headlines
The Mark is a national movement to record Canadian ideas and propel the people behind them. It is a collection of thoughts and a tool for facilitating interdisciplinary dialogue and debate between outstanding Canadians.

From the
Globe and Mail

Census burden 'colossally inflated,' MPs told
August 27, 2010
Gloria Galloway
Political posturing dominated a debate about the government’s decision to scrap the mandatory long-form census at parliamentary hearing Friday with Conservative MPs trying to make opposition members seem out of touch with the common man and their rivals in opposition trying to make the Tories appear out of touch with common sense. Conservative members of the standing committee on industry, science and technology did their best to trip up those experts called by opposition members to defend the mandatory long-form. And opposition members did the same to the people called by the Tories.

Police take on Harper over census
By Gloria Galloway
August 23, 2010
The plan to scrap the long-gun registry is not the only policy of the federal Conservative government that is causing consternation at Canadian police agencies. The Canadian Association of Police Boards (CAPB) approved eight resolutions when its members met in New Brunswick last week, including one that calls on the government to restore the mandatory long-form census.


From The Pope:

Census Offensus (The Offensive Census)
Papal Encyclical
August 25, 2010
I am aware of the ways in which the Census has been and continues to be misconstrued and emptied of meaning, with the consequent risk of being misinterpreted, detached from ethical living and, in any event, undervalued. In the social, juridical, cultural, political and economic fields — the contexts, in other words, that are most exposed to this danger — it is easily dismissed as irrelevant for interpreting and giving direction to moral responsibility.
Pope Benedict XVI

The economist in Harper knows exactly why he's decimating the census
By Frances Russell
August 18, 2010
Industry Minister Tony Clement's tweets aside, Stephen Harper's Conservatives know that changing the 2011 long-form census from compulsory to voluntary makes it useless for public and private Canadian decision makers. That's exactly why they're doing it. An economist, the prime minister understands the value of statistics. He appreciates that authoritative statistics on the relative social and economic well-being of individual Canadians empower the disempowered to demand government programs (higher taxes) to reduce poverty and disparity and promote upward mobility. He also appreciates the need to dumb them down to facilitate stripping government back to its core functions: a strong military to defend the nation abroad, more police, prisons and tougher justice to defend the citizen at home and an unfettered free market to create wealth and employment through ever-lower taxes, especially on business and the well-to-do. Addressing social and economic inequality should be left to individual initiative and private charity.

Stand up for good government, MPs (PDF - 34K, 2 pages)
August 2010
Mel Cappe, Pierre Fortin, Michael Mendelson and John Richards*
This op ed discusses the importance of the long-form census for good government. It puts forward the perspective of several premiers on the federal decision to substitute a voluntary National Household Survey. The authors call on the three federal opposition leaders to agree on the text of a resolution in defence of preserving the mandatory long form and to state their intent to move it upon the reopening of the House of Commons.
* Mel Cappe is president of the Institute for Research on Public Policy. Pierre Fortin is emeritus professor of economics at the University of Quebec at Montreal. Michael Mendelson is senior scholar at the Caledon Institute of Social Policy. John Richards is a professor in the school of public policy at Simon Fraser University.
Caledon Institute of Social Policy
[ Link to the op-ed in the Globe and Mail, August 11 issue ]

Harper's Latest Step in Building 'Tea Party North'
His census stance is meant to fan populist anger while killing a key tool for social advocacy
By Frances Russell Murdoch
12 Aug 2010
Cut to the scary bit:
He [Harper] also appreciates the need to dumb them [Canadians] down to facilitate stripping government back to its core functions: a strong military to defend the nation abroad, more police, prisons and tougher justice to defend the citizen at home and an unfettered free market to create wealth and employment through ever-lower taxes, especially on business and the well-to-do. Addressing social and economic inequality should be left to individual initiative and private charity.

August 5-6
Jennefer Laidley
Interim Research and Policy Analyst
Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC)

This is the attitude that arises when government sees society simply as a group of utility maximizing individuals:



Shawn Graham is unimpressed:

Inconsistencies abound:

It’s a manufactured crisis, says Layton :

Carol Goar separates fact from myth – it’s been death by a thousand cuts:

Harper focuses on economy:

Injunction could delay implementation:

Um, fighter jets vs mandatory census…. Which one has broader impact?:

Bob Rae’s take:

You gotta know that when the media start printing unflattering pictures of the pols, they’re on shaky ground:

August 3, 2010

Questions on Census derail Stockwell Day’s presser:

Here’s what he said about the census – they’re not backing down:

The Canadian Institute of Actuaries gets in on the opposition:

Statistical Society of Canada meets this week and launches a petition to save the mandatory long form:

Don Gutnick on the Fraser Institute’s involvement:

August 2, 2010

New questionnaire going to print August 9 – time’s running out:



Statisticians gather for conference in Vancouver :

Ivan Fellegi explains bias:

The census helps demographers know – which one are you?:

Plugging Zerbesias:

The issue of privacy:

Census, homelessness, and gated communities:

News from Calgary :

Is it compromise? Or capitulation?:

Some census wordplay:

More opposition from Quebec :

CPAC : Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (video on demand)
Topic : The Long Census Form
Tuesday, July 27
NOTE: the above link is actually to the first of a connected series of videos from the day-long event. The day's agenda appears below; each asterisk is a separate video that you can only access by fast forwarding through sections that are of less interest. Move the video progress indicator manually along the bar at the bottom of the video screen. To skip to the next video in the collection, move the progress indicator to the far right of the bar.

Committee Members met in Ottawa to hear testimony on the government’s plan to make the long census form voluntary instead of mandatory.
Speakers included:
* Industry Minister Tony Clement (first hour of the video; mostly tedious repetition of speaking points...)
* Munir Sheikh , who resigned as Chief Statistician of Statistics Canada on July 21 because of the dispute, and Ivan Fellegi, the previous Chief Statistician of Canada
* Panel discussion:
--- Université du Québec à Chicoutimi professor Martin Simard
--- Statistical Society of Canada president Don McLeish
--- York University professor David Tanny
--- Québécois Libre English editor Bradley Doucet
* Panel discussion:
Ernie Boyko, Adjunct Data Librarian at the Carleton University Library Data Centre
--- Don Drummond, chair of the Advisory Panel on Labour Market Information
--- Paul Hébert, editor-in-chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal
--- Darrell Bricker, president of IPSOS Canada
--- Niels Veldhuis, senior research economist at the Fraser Institute, via videoconference from Vancouver).
* Panel discussion:
Jennifer Stoddart, Privacy Commissioner
--- Peter Coleman, National Citizens' Coalition president
--- Elisapee Sheutiapik, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami board member
--- Paul McKeever, employment lawyer
--- Marie-France Kenny, president of the Canadian Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities

CPAC (Canadian Parliamentary Channel)

July 23-28, 2010

Jennefer Laidley
Interim Research and Policy Analyst
Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC)

ISAC website:

You want privacy? Shut the bedroom door:

Three cheers for a hidden agenda!:



Pre-committee piece from Star:

It’s been months in the making:

Why’d he take so long to resign?:

Munir Sheikh an unlikely hero:

Here’s what integrity and leadership look like:

An independent mind:

Compromise urged:

National Stats Council comes out against:


Here’s what the NSC actually said:

Globe editorial gets behind the NSC’s middle way:

Poll says Canadians like the long form:

Cuts even deeper for disability advocates:

How to get the information through other means:

Flaherty’s position:

Retirees not happy:

Francophones and Acadians take government to court:

Steelworkers’ letter:

Note: these are ‘strange bedfellows’:

Concordia Student Union doesn’t like it:

RNAO doesn’t like it:

Ontario Public School Boards doesn’t like it:

Quebec Community Groups Network doesn’t like it:

The debate in BC:

What Ban Ki-Moon thinks:

Why the census matters:


Progressive Economics:

It’s the Tea Party North:

Harper and the history of the census:

Filling out the census is not so bad:

Problems with European census models:

Voluntary census tested then scrapped in US:

What’s next?:

Anachronistic, coercive, and unnecessary:

Um, who is being tyrannical?:

The issue is control:

The issue is Harper:

The spat over national unity:

Corcoran’s take:

The corner of Ideology and Reason (I think that’s somewhere in downtown Ottawa ):

Why Stats Can isn’t independent:

Census decision is US-style dollar-store demagoguery:

The Hogan’s Heroes defence:

Conscientious objection?:

Bad Politics 101:

Stats crash at the corner of ideology and reason
Munir Sheikh had no choice but to resign as head of Statistics Canada
By Jeffrey Simpson
July 23, 2010
(...) The Statistics Canada fight is not the usual clash of competing political visions, of left against right, of Conservatives against progressives. Rather, this is a fight about rational decision-making that requires the best fact-based evidence available against a reliance on ideological nostrums that scorn facts and reason when they stand in the way of those nostrums.
Globe and Mail

Here's an analysis of the situation that I find scary.

When Smart Parties Make Stupid Decisions [dead link]
By Paul Saurette Associate Professor of Political Studies, University of Ottawa
July 23, 2010
The Harper government's decision to make the long-form census voluntary is terrible policy, but there is method in their madness.
(...) One of the core beliefs of many conservative intellectuals and activists is that decades of Liberal dominance in Ottawa has created an octopus-like configuration of arms-length organizations with mandates to mine statistical data (much of it collected by StatsCan) to discover inequalities and other structural patterns, and then to lobby the government and Canadian society to reduce these inequalities through social programs. This drives many conservatives up the wall for many reasons...
(...) Many argue that changing the census policy is simply an example of the government acting the bully – arbitrarily enforcing bad policy because they are too short-sighted and stubborn to appreciate the consequences of this policy. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Rather than underestimating the importance and impact of this policy, the government understands precisely the central role this change has in their long-term goal of cultivating a very different political culture in Canada.
The Mark - "The people and ideas behind the headlines"

My two cents' worth (by Gilles):
July 23, 2010

Notwithstanding the resignation on principle of the respected head of Statistics Canada on July 21 (Bravo, Mr. Sheikh!), Industry Minister Tony Clement won't back down on "his" Census 2011 long-form decision (CBC, July 22). According to the CBC article, Minister Clement doesn't personally consider long-form questionnaires intrusive, but he says he wants to be respectful of Canadians who *do* have a problem disclosing their personal information to the government. He said he's heard from "Canadians who are concerned about other questions, like whether someone in the household has a mental or physical incapacity, they're concerned about questions about the characteristics of their commute to work."
[Never mind the fact that the information, stripped of all personal identifiers, would be used by organizations planning the delivery of home care services for aged people and those living at home with a disability and by city transit planners to improve the public transit service in the neighbourhood. Just to use the two same examples from Minister Clement's statement...]

C'mon, really?
The government's own privacy watchdog agency has received a mere handful of complaints over the years from people fundamentally opposed to divulging any personal information to government. Minister Clement would diminish the value of the Census to appease a handful of people?
Only Statistics Canada employees are allowed to see and work with information collected via the long form questionnaire. Those employees must take an oath not to share this information, under penalty of a fine and/or imprisonment. As one media analyst observed, StatCan is interested in information about you not as an individual but as part of a sample for use in planning community and social services, health services, education services, and so much more.

Here's a face-saving solution* for Mr. Harper:

Minister Clement is in England on ministerial business, right? (see the CBC article above)
He's the person who ended up with egg on his face when Munir Sheikh said categorically that a voluntary survey cannot become a substitute for a mandatory census. In the absence of the Minister responsible, Mr. Harper could simply respond to this twist in the story by declaring the questionnaire switch null and void because the options presented by StatCan were in fact not all viable options, or some such crap.

Minister Clement has stated that "[T]here's not a micron of difference of opinion between myself and the prime minister on this."
[ Of course not - right after the prime minister took him aside and read him the riot act. ]

Sign the Petition to Keep the Canada Census Long Form:

See who has signed the petition


Join the Facebook Group:


Vote on the Census question.: e-online-poll-census/article1648059/


The 2006 questionnaires:

* The short census questionnaire (PDF - 5K, 3 pages)
The long census questionnaire (PDF - 1MB, 40 pages)
2006 Census questionnaires and guides
[ Census of Canada ]
[ Statistics Canada ]

From the
Business News Network (BNN)

The Relationship Between Civil Servants & The Government (video, 6:53)
July 22, 2010
BNN discusses the relationship between civil servants and the government with Michael Mendelson, senior scholar, Caledon Institute of Social Policy, and a former deputy minister in Ontario and Manitoba.

A two-part discussion:

The Importance of The Census: Part One (video, 7:40)
The Importance of The Census: Part Two (video, 8:27)
July 22, 2010
The head of StatsCan has quit, saying a voluntary census can't replace a mandatory one. BNN discusses the importance of censuses with Penni Stewart, president, Canadian Association of University Teachers; Catherine Swift, president, Canadian Federation of Independent Business; and Peter Hume, president of the Association of Ontario Municipalities.

Clement won't back down on census
July 22, 2010
Industry Minister Tony Clement has dismissed growing calls for him to reverse his decision to scrap the mandatory long-form census, saying he and Prime Minister Stephen Harper are on the same page on the issue.

StatsCan head quits over census dispute [dead link]
July 21, 2010
Munir Sheikh, the head of Statistics Canada, resigned Wednesday over the federal government's decision to scrap the mandatory long-form census. "I want to take this opportunity to comment on a technical statistical issue which has become the subject of media discussion. This relates to the question of whether a voluntary survey can become a substitute for a mandatory census," Sheikh said in a release. "It cannot," he said. "Under the circumstances, I have tendered my resignation to the prime minister."
CBC News

Thank you Munir Sheikh
July 22, 2010
By Tracey Lauriault
Our Chief Statistician Resigned Yesterday. A first for Canada.
Full text of Munir Sheikh's resignation letter, which was posted briefly on the Statistics Canada website until Steve made them take it down.

Our thanks to you for that, Mr. Sheikh.
You are a man of integrity, and a true public servant.

Related link:

Statistics Shuffle (video)
["SYCOPHANCY" : See "Fraser Institute"]
July 19, 2010
Major changes to census collection in our country has [sic] many groups concerned, including here in Alberta. Instead of a mandatory long-form census the federal government will now supply a shorter, voluntary form. The feds say they're responding to complaints that the census infringes on privacy rights, critics say the information collected is vital for health care, our economy and for long term municipal planning. How critical is census information? Will the quality and usability of the information suffer? And how will you be impacted? Joining us for this conversation are Niels Veldhuis, director of fiscal studies at the Fraser Institute and Derek Cook, a research and social planner with the city of Calgary.
Alberta Prime Time
NOTE: My reference to The Fraser's servile flattery is deserved, IMHO.
At last count, it was Stephen Harper and the Fraser Institute vs. the rest of the frikkin' country.
Where's, oh where, is Marge Princess Warrior when we need her??

Also from Derek Cook
of the City of Calgary:

Donec Prohibiti, Procidite*:
Building a Knowledge Infrastructure to Support Place-Based Policy [dead link]
Derek Cook
March 2010
The author of this article in the March 2010 issue of the Policy Research Initiative's Horizons magazine contends that the Harper government's decision to replace the long form Census questionnaire is completely at odds with the recent direction of Statscan and the data user community. The article discusses a developing partnership with Statscan over recent years that is incongruent with the new direction set down by the ruling Conservative party.
The article speaks about some recent work of the Community Social Data Strategy and the Quality of Life Reporting System on the joint development of the Municipal and Community Data Access Initiative. "Through these initiatives, communities work collaboratively with Statistics Canada to increase access to information and more effectively engage with senior orders of government."
[* Donec prohibiti, procidite = "proceed until apprehended"]

Earlier media coverage of the Census questionnaire issue:
July 21-22

Jennefer Laidley
Interim Research and Policy Analyst
Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC)

ISAC website:

ISAC's Social Assistance Review website:


The Census:

Perhaps the biggest news is the resignation of the Chief Statistician, Munir Sheikh:



On the implications:



Globe editorial:

The Opposition parties are calling for a reversal of the decision:


But there has been all kinds of other coverage of this issue over the last two days – far too much for me to include here (I can’t keep up!). But here are a few juicy ones:

The history of Canada ’s 345-year-old Census:

Ten ways the Census affects regular Canadians:

Tony Clement gives his reasoning:

Carol Goar on the alienation of voters:

Decision gets a drubbing in Quebec :

Provinces not pleased:

Creating Harper Hysteria (note the comment about a “lame protest song”):

Here’s that “lame protest song”, by the way, which has been featured in most major media for the last couple of days:

Here's the view from the
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives:

* CCPA Senior Economist Armine Yalnizyan's open letter [June 30] to the Honourable Tony Clement, Ministry of Industry and Minister Responsible for Statistics Canada and Munir Sheikh, Chief Statistician, Statistics Canada.
- includes some compelling reasons why the Census long-form questionnaire is an important tool for good policy-making and accountability
"(...) This is not the first Statistics Canada survey to be cut or compromised during the administration of the current government in areas of inquiry that help develop or assess the impact of public policy..."

* Listen to Armine appearing on CBC radio's As It Happens - mp3 [July 5]

* An account of the growing backlash to the policy, in Rolling Thunder Census Review [July 9]
"(...) Clearly the vast majority of Canadians do not mistrust StatCan, the Census of the government. But if this government works hard enough at it, all that will change. Instead of standing by and letting that happen, a remarkable cross-section of Canadian society - bankers and business consultants, city planners, immigration and settlement workers, community service providers, charities and municipalities, academics and public health officials - is discussing how best to come together to reverse this decision.

* A media roundup of top news stories and editorials on the issue. [up to July 12]

* Christian and Jewish groups join the debate in this New twist on census story [July 15]

* Armine comments as The Fraser Institute finally weighs in on the Census [July 16]

All the latest on the census long-form debacle
[ Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives ]

Sign the Petition to Keep the Canada Census Long Form:

See who else has signed the petition so far


Join the Facebook Group:

Globe and Mail online poll: Census
"Do you think the long-form census questionnaire is an intrusion on the privacy of Canadians?"
As at Sunday July18 at 8am, YES has 51% (16124 votes) to 49% for NO (15536 votes)"
Surprise, surprise. Given the source of this poll, I would've expected those numbers to be much more tilted in favour of the G&M audience, i.e., hands-off-my-private-info libertarians.

2011 Census
For the first time in 35 years, the Canadian census will not have a long form questionnaire. The Harper government decided to replace it with a voluntary survey, the National Household Survey. No consultation has preceded this decision. The consequences are important and the opponents are numerous...
- incl. 150+ links to comments, letters, articles in the printed media, news releases, and more, mostly from Québec
Quebec Inter-University Centre for Social Statistics

Click the 2011 Census link above to see letters and
articles from supporters of the long form questionnaire, including:

* the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ)
the Association of Educational Researchers of Ontario
the Canadian Labour Congress
the Département de démographie of the Université de Montréal
the Statistics Canada Advisory Committee on Demographic Statistics and Studies
the Canadian Historical Association
* the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association
the Federation of Canadian Municipalities
the Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives
Investigation launched by the Commissioner of Official Languages
the Canadian Economics Association
the Canadian Research Data Centre
the Canadian Network of Metropolis Centers PPT file ...
the Cities Centre of University of Toronto
Canadian Association of University Teachers
* the
Canadian Association for Business Economics
+ Other Articles

Quebec Inter-University Centre for Social Statistics


Canadians must be able to count on Statistics Canada
Information allows us to make informed decisions
July 6, 2010
The government's recent decision to do away with the census's mandatory long questionnaire might appear to many people as a minor technical matter. However, it is a major decision that will substantially reduce the validity of the information that we have about Canada, its citizens, and the way society is changing. This move, which will increase our ignorance about ourselves, will have long-term political consequences: As society becomes less informed, it will be easier for the government to manipulate it and to use its authority to circulate specious arguments and ideological positions.
Montreal Gazette


Version française:

Recensement 2011
Pour la première fois en 35 ans, le recensement canadien ne comptera pas de formulaire long. Le gouvernement Harper a décidé de le remplacer par l'Enquête nationale auprès des ménages dont la participation sera volontaire. Aucune consultation n'a été menée avant de prendre une telle décision. Les conséquences sont importantes et les opposants à cette décision sont nombreux...
- plus de 150 liens vers des ressources pertinentes, plusieures en français

Centre interuniversitaire québécois de statistiques sociales

Selected media coverage:

Census changes 'indefensible,' retired top statistician says
Decision to axe long questionnaire likely to bias data : Fellegi
By Shannon Proudfoot
July 13, 2010
A former top official from Statistics Canada has slammed the Conservative government's changes to the 2011 census, joining a growing chorus of opposition to the move. The decision to axe the long census questionnaire and distribute the questions through a voluntary survey is "indefensible" and likely to result in "seriously biased" data, says Ivan Fellegi, who was chief statistician at the agency until his retirement in 2008.
Some groups such as aboriginals, new immigrants, those with low income or education and the very wealthy are less likely to complete a voluntary survey, he says, leaving gaping holes in the country's demographic portrait and potentially warping the statistical results.
Canwest News Service

A census designed by 'drunken monkeys'
July 14, 2010
By Dan Gardner
(...) Apparently, the long mandatory survey was scrapped because it offends the staunch libertarian principles of the Harper government. Yes, the staunch libertarian principles of the government. The Harper government. The government that thinks marijuana decriminalization is a Marxist plot, an adult who agrees to consensual sex in exchange for money should be imprisoned, the police did a fine job at the G20 and Omar Khadr can rot in a tropical gulag. But requiring citizens to fill out a form that is absolutely essential to sound public policy and social science? An outrageous violation of individual liberty.
Victoria Times-Colonist

Good information comes at a price
Yes, the census long form is intrusive, but statistics empower Canadians
By William Robson
July. 13, 2010
The Globe and Mail

The federal government is senseless on the census
Globe editorial
July 11, 2010
There's no evidence of a broad public backlash against the long-form census, and the imposition on Canadians is not unreasonable.
The Globe and Mail

More media coverage of this issue:
July 13

Critics say changes could result in biased information:

Official Languages Commissioner reviewing long form decision:

Discussion is deemed “off topic” and “irrelevant”:

A cadre of morons:

July 9

[United Kingdom]
National census to be axed after 200 years
The Census, the official population count carried out by the Government, is to be scrapped after more than 200 years, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

By Christopher Hope
09 Jul 2010
Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, said the Census, which takes place every 10 years, was an expensive and inaccurate way of measuring the number of people in Britain. Instead, the Government is examining different and cheaper ways to count the population more regularly, using existing public and private databases, including credit reference agencies. It will represent a historic shift in the way that information about the nation’s population, religion and social habits is gathered. The suggestion is likely to be approved by Cabinet next week.
The Telegraph (U.K.)

From Jennefer Laidley:
July 8, 2010

You may have heard that the federal government is moving to eliminate the Canada census long form questionnaire and replace it with a voluntary survey. Your immediate action is required to help save this important source of information. Take action below, and forward this email to your friends and colleagues.

The long form was sent to 20% of households and is a critical source of information about diversity, employment, income, education and other characteristics of Canadians. It is essential to business, research, planning and good public policies and programs. Stakeholders ranging from the business community, to university researchers to social justice advocates are raising their voices to oppose this move.

You may choose to sign the petition AND join the Facebook group on this.

1) Sign the Petition:
The Keep the Canada Census Long Form petition is at:

[NOTE: the plan was to send the petition on July 12 to Tony Clement (Minister for Industry and Stats Can), the Prime Minister, the Chief Statistician and opposition leaders. As at July 20 the petition is still online, so you can sign if you haven't already...]

2) Join the Facebook Group:
Here is the weblink to the Facebook group on this issue:

And here are some media links that talk about the importance of the Long Form:

Liberals condemn Conservative move on Census long form:

Why you should care:

Because it’s “dumbing down” democracy:

Need more proof? Listen to Armine Yalnizyan:

Armine Yalnizyan also comments on the decision:

CAUT calls for reinstatement of the long-form:

Genealogy site calls decision “ludicrous”:

The Star says the decision is the wrong move:

Letter to editor:

Statistics Canada’s Senseless Census Decision
An Open letter to the Honourable Tony Clement, Ministry of Industry and Minister Responsible for Statistics Canada and
Munir Sheikh, Chief Statistician, Statistics Canada

by Armine Yalnizyan
July 2, 2010
(...) This latest decision [by the Harper government] scraps the Census long-form questionnaire in favour of a one-time survey which makes responses voluntary rather than mandatory. This move will weaken the quality and availability of data that tells us what is happening to employment, immigration, housing, incomes and education – the very issues that beg for the best policy decisions possible as we inch our way through recovery. The Census long-form questionnaire is a unique tool that affords decision-makers a rich set of facts about Canadians, facts that are as reliable at the census tract or neighbourhood level as the nation-wide level.
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Thanks to Jennefer Laidley of the Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC) for the many of the links in the above collection.

ISAC website:

Social Assistance Review website:

Changes distort the census
By Dan Gardner
July 9, 2010
Admittedly, the census is not the sexiest topic, but it is important. The data generated by the census are the foundation of almost every public policy. Social science in this country would come to a shuddering halt without those numbers. So would a great deal of business. Anyone interested in reality -- and I hope that includes every politician and citizen -- is indebted to Statistics Canada and its bean counters. (...) Apparently, the long mandatory survey was scrapped because it offends the staunch libertarian principles of the Harper government. Yes, the staunch libertarian principles of the government. The Harper government. The government that thinks marijuana decriminalization is a Marxist plot, an adult who agrees to consensual sex in exchange for money should be imprisoned, the police did a fine job at the G20, and Omar Khadr can rot in a tropical gulag.
The Ottawa Citizen

Don't cut long census form: Liberals
July 7, 2010

The Liberals are demanding the federal government reverse its decision to scrap the mandatory long census form, saying they will introduce legislation to protect a mandatory long-form census if necessary. The Conservative government announced last week that it is eliminating the mandatory long census form for the 2011 census, replacing it with a voluntary national household survey.


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