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What kind of a country do you want to live in?

Guest post by Lisa Dillon, Professor, Demography U of Montreal –

Do you want a country which maintains a reputable, effective statistics-gathering agency, which provides the reliable data necessary to understand how our society and economy are evolving over time, from the national to the community level? OR do you want decision-makers in government, charity groups and a variety of other institutions operating in a blind fog?

If the long-form census is replaced with a voluntary survey, not only will that survey (at the cost of $30 million) be biased against some of the very groups we need to study, incomparable to census data from the previous 150 years of census taking, from 1852 to 2006, but other surveys conducted by StatsCan as well as private groups will not have the data necessary to judge the representativeness of the surveys and create weights to adjust for problems of representativity.

To be well-informed, check out the actual 2006 long-form census

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Save our Canadian Census! Long Form under threat.

Please sign the petition to save the Canadian long-form census :

Save the Canadian Census - sign the petitionThe census is under threat.

My sister, a professor in Demography, has asked for my help in communicating this issue.  In reading about this issue, I find it unsettling and agree with her that we need to protect the census.  Please retweet, repost, link and promote.

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Dear colleagues,

You have probably already read in the press about the cancelling of the long-form census questionnaire for 2011.  In 2011, only the short-form questionnaire will be implemented, and the long-form questionnaire, which normally goes to 1 in 5 households, will be replaced by a new National Household Survey.  This will be the most severe cutting of the Canadian census since the launching of nominal censuses in 1851/52 (and since Brian Mulroney’s attempt to cancel the 1985 census, which was thwarted).  Heather Juby at CIQSS passed me a list of useful links about this situation, including responses (see bottom of this message).  See in particular this article by Richard Shearmur in the Montreal Gazette ” Canadians Must Be Able to Count on Statistics Canada

[Laurie:  or today’s Globe and Mail article entitled “Don’t mess with the census”]

I contact you to ask your opinion on this subject and to enjoin you to sign a petition to keep the long-form census :

I and many other scholars are concerned that

  1. The Canadian government will not have the same commitment to the NHS as it had to the long-form census,
  2. As a volontary survey, the NHS will be biased against certain populations, particularly vulnerable subgroups who we particularly wish to study (and we will have no way of weighting the data to compensate, except with respect to the basic questions asked in the short-form census)
  3. Researchers (including those at Stats Can) will not have the census data needed to evaluate the representativity of other surveys,
  4. We will lose the possibility of conducting long-term comparisons and
  5. Our ability to conduct in-depth analyses using a broad range of control variables, examining small population subgroups, including racial minorities and at a very refined geographic level will  be erased.

Finally, the imposition of this change by the Conservative government with no consultation of Statistics Canada and other expert users is intolerable.

Please let us know of your reactions, so that we can unite in fighting this cancellation.

Thank you very much,

Lisa Dillon, Professeure agrégée, Universite de Montreal.