Has Canada Botched "the Mother of all Data"?

The 2011 Canadian Census marks a new era in population information: it is now a brief and voluntary household survey, which has led to widespread concern that Canadian public policy will be left fundamentally crippled, writes Sean Kilpatrick.

For 345 years, some form of a census has been carried out in Canada. But many fear that the Conservative Harper government's decision last year to scrap the long-form census and replace it with a voluntary household survey will lead to low response rates, particularly among populations for whom informed policy-making is essential such as the impoverished, the illiterate, the uneducated, immigrant populations, the working poor, the mentally ill, seniors and the homeless. There is a protest campaign underway to boycott the survey, but with tens of thousands of dollars in federal transfer payments at stake for every individual who completes the survey, the Province of Manitoba is waging an information campaign to urge compliance.

According to the Globe and Mail,

"The move sparked anger from a range of groups who said the changes will deprive government and citizens of detailed information about the country's social makeup and eliminate the ability to track those changes over time. The biggest question is how the latest count could possibly be as informative and accurate as those in the past. Statistics Canada says it is doing its best while critics contend the endeavour is a waste of time."

Full Story: Census Day, 2011 – dawn of a new information-gathering era

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