Voluntary Canadian Census Might be Seriously Flawed

An internal Statistics Canada simulation of a voluntary census -- conducted prior to the federal government's announcement that the mandatory long form census would be scrapped -- reveals serious concerns over potential inaccuracies.
September 10, 2010, 11am PDT | Michael Dudley
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The study shows that a voluntary census would likely dramatically underrepresent or misrepresent minority groups. In particular, the simulation demonstrates how this would affected housing data:

"Statistics experts warn its findings demonstrate how minorities and groups such as renters could be measurably underrepresented or miscounted in the coming 2011 census. When the Statscan study simulated the results of a voluntary 2006 long-form – which reflect the lower response rates expected in optional surveys – it ...indicated that rented dwellings in Canada as a share of the population declined by 8.07 percentage points from 2001...nearly five percentage points [more pronounced than the actual results] – suggests a voluntary survey in 2006 would have massively undercounted renting households."

Many researchers, analysts and civil society organizations fear that such flawed data will compromise future evidence-based policymaking.

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Published on Thursday, September 9, 2010 in Globe and Mail
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