Decision to Ditch Long-Form Census Torments Canada's Planners

The federal government's controversial decision to scrap Canada's long-form census in 2011 and replace it with a voluntary household survey is coming home to roost, as cities across the country dismiss its skewed results.
Enokson / flickr

"Weaknesses in the most recent national census mean the City of Ottawa is treating the data skeptically and relying more on its own sources of information about the city’s population, says the city’s chief urban-planning statistician."

"Decrying the mandatory long-form census as an invasion of privacy, then industry minister Tony Clement, who oversaw Statistics Canada, replaced it with a voluntary 'National Household Survey.' Since filling out the survey in 2011 was optional, the results are necessarily skewed: there’s no way to be sure if any particular group of people is more or less likely to choose to fill out the form, so there’s no way to know whether the survey accurately represents Canada’s actual population," writes David Reevely.

According to Anna Mehler Paperny, the city of Toronto has already decided it will not use the survey results as a tool for historical comparison. "Toronto, like other cities and a multitude of government and private organizations, relies on data from the long-form census to get a sense of where the community’s going."

"At least, it used to."

"Now, every city department – from planning to transit, traffic and social services – will need to find another way to figure out how Toronto’s communities are changing."

Full Story: Census changes a problem for city’s planners


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