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Canada’s 2011 Census No Longer Fully Mandatory; You Choose To Answer


However, experts and officials believe this will result in inadequate information

By Victoria Chau, Staff Writer

“Despite the claims that no one should ever be forced to answer questions if they choose not to, the information collected from the long-form portion has been essential in determining socio-economic trends, such as the level of education and income in a certain geographic area.”

via rosalita54.wordpress.com

Students, young professionals, entrepreneurs, whatever we may be, for the most part, we don’t tend to put up a big fuss about the government census.  And yet, we don’t realize that the census, which pops up every five years, plays an integral role in shaping the society we live in.  The data collected by Statistics Canada from the census is used in deciding when and where new schools should be built; if the local transportation system is sufficient enough for the surrounding population; what areas need subsidized housing for seniors, and the list goes on.

So the main things you need to know is that each time the census is conducted, every household receives a short-form census which asks the personal details, such as address, age, gender, marital status and native language.  Previous to this year’s census, one in every five Canadian households also received a long-form census that had to be answered (punishable by fine or imprisonment) which contained questions about citizenship, ethnic origin, religion, education, employment income, housing, etc.

Now, what’s the big deal with the census for this year?  Well, it’s changed in one very important aspect: Canadians can now refuse – if they are selected – to complete the long-form portion of the census for whatever reason.  It can be whether you believe the questions asked are too intrusive, or maybe if you’re just plain lazy and don’t want to do it.  This year, one in every three households, instead of five, will be receiving the long-form portion with the option to complete it.

[pullquote]Despite the claims that no one should ever be forced to answer questions if they choose not to, the information collected from the long-form portion has been essential in determining socio-economic trends, such as the level of education and income in a certain geographic area.[/pullquote]

The change came on the heels of debate about whether or not the mandatory long-form portion was an invasion of Canadians’ privacy rights as some of the questions do get down to the ‘nitty-gritty’ details (including in essence, who was doing chores in the house, or looking after the kids, and for how many hours each week).  Despite the claims that no one should ever be forced to answer questions if they choose not to, the information collected from the long-form portion has been essential in determining socio-economic trends, such as the level of education and income in a certain geographic area.

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